United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
ORDER AND OPINION
Richard Mark Gergel United States District Court Judge
matter is before the Court on the Report and Recommendation
of the Magistrate Judge, recommending denial of
Defendant's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons
set forth below, the Court adopts in part and declines to
adopt in part the Report and Recommendation. The Court
declines to adopt the Report and Recommendation only insofar
as it addresses state-law claims Plaintiff has since
abandoned. The Court otherwise fully adopts the Report and
alleges that on that on August 25, 2015, he was awoken by
John Mauldin knocking on his door, who told Plaintiff that he
was there to repossess a vehicle. Plaintiff told him to leave
his property. Plaintiff testified that Mr. Mauldin did not
present any paperwork or documentation, and that he informed
Mr. Mauldin that he did not have permission to repossess
Plaintiffs vehicle. Plaintiff also testified that he then
entered his vehicle. At that time, Mr. Mauldin called 911 and
told the dispatcher that Plaintiff had pointed a handgun at
him. Plaintiff testified that he never pointed a gun at Mr.
Mr. Mauldin was on the phone with 911 dispatch, Defendant,
who was then the Coroner for Dorchester County, South
Carolina, approached Mr. Mauldin, identified himself as the
Coroner, and offered to assist Mr. Mauldin with the
repossession. Mr. Mauldin told Defendant that Plaintiff had
pointed a gun at him. Although Mr. Maudlin had already
contacted police, Defendant called Captain Douglas Wright of
the Summerville Police Department and was recorded telling
him "there's a repo guy across the street from my
house at the damn, damn niggers that live across the street
and they there trying to repo his truck and they pulled a gun
on him and all kind of shit over here." (Dkt. No.
then left his house in his vehicle, and the Defendant, in his
official county vehicle, followed the Plaintiff and activated
his vehicle's blue lights and siren. Plaintiff testified
that when he stopped, Defendant pointed his county-issued
firearm him and told him to "get out of the car you
little black mother fucker." (Dkt. No. 44-4.) Police
officers then arrived on the scene. They found Defendant
wearing pajama pants, holding a gun, and smelling of alcohol.
(Dkt. No. 44-15.) Officers directed Defendant to drop his
weapon, which he did after a delay of about 15 to 20 seconds.
(Id.) No parties were charged with any crime that
night. Responding officers noted that the repossession
company had been trying to repossess Plaintiffs vehicle for
eight months "and there could be a vendetta against the
owner." (Id.) Ultimately, Defendant was charged
with misconduct in office and breach of the peace. He pleaded
no contest to breach of the peace and the misconduct in
office charge was dropped nolle prosequi. The
Governor suspended him from office after his indictment, and
he resigned on February 3, 2016.
October 27, 2015, Plaintiff filed the present action,
asserting claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and South
Carolina law. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant conducted an
unlawful and unreasonable stop and seizure and used excessive
force in violation of Plaintiffs constitutional rights,
falsely imprisoned him, and committed assault. Plaintiff
seeks monetary damages. On May 9, 2017, Defendant moved for
summary judgment. On October 13, 2017, the Magistrate Judge
recommended denial of Defendant's motion for summary
judgment. Both parties have filed objections to the Report
and Recommendation. In his objections, Plaintiff abandons his
state-law claims and seeks leave to amend the complaint to
remove those claims.
Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court.
The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the
responsibility to make a final determination remains with the
Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261 (1976). The
Court is charged with making a de novo determination
of those portions of the Report and Recommendation to which
specific objection is made. The Court may accept, reject, or
modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the
Magistrate Judge. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
proper objection is made to a particular issue, "a
district court is required to consider all arguments directed
to that issue, regardless of whether they were raised before
the magistrate." United States v. George, 971
F.2d 1113, 1118 (4th Cir. 1992). However, "[t]he
district court's decision whether to consider additional
evidence is committed to its discretion, and any refusal will
be reviewed for abuse." Doe v. Chao, 306 F.3d
170, 183 & n.9 (4th Cir. 2002). "[A]ttempts to
introduce new evidence after the magistrate judge has acted
are disfavored, " though the district court may allow it
"when a party offers sufficient reasons for so
doing." Caldwell v. Jackson, 831 F.Supp.2d 911,
914 (M.D. N.C. 2010) (listing cases).
judgment is appropriate if a party "shows that there is
no genuine dispute as to any material fact" and that the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In other words, summary judgment should
be granted "only when it is clear that there is no
dispute concerning either the facts of the controversy or the
inferences to be drawn from those facts." Pulliam
Inv. Co. v. Cameo Props., 810 F.2d 1282, 1286 (4th Cir.
1987). "In determining whether a genuine issue has been
raised, the court must construe all inferences and
ambiguities in favor of the nonmoving party."
HealthSouth Rehab. Hosp. v. Am. Nat'l Red Cross,
101 F.3d 1005, 1008 (4th Cir. 1996). The party seeking
summary judgment shoulders the initial burden of
demonstrating to the court that there is no genuine issue of
material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
the moving party has made this threshold demonstration, the
non-moving party, to survive the motion for summary judgment,
may not rest on the allegations averred in his pleadings.
Id. at 324. Rather, the non-moving party must
demonstrate that specific, material facts exist that give
rise to a genuine issue. Id. Under this standard,
"[c]onclusory or speculative allegations do not suffice,
nor does a 'mere scintilla of evidence'" in
support of the non-moving party's case. Thompson v.