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Jane Doe 202a v. Cannon

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division

November 6, 2017

Jane Doe 202a, PLAINTIFF,
v.
Al Cannon, Sheriff of Charleston County, individually and in his official capacity, et al. DEFENDANTS.

          REPORT & RECOMMENDATION

          MARY GORDON BAKER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         The Plaintiff, through counsel, brings this action for violations of her constitutional rights and under state law against Al Cannon, Sheriff of Charleston County, along with several deputy sheriffs[1]; Sandra J. Senn; and Senn Legal, LLC. Before the court is the CCSO Defendants' Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings. (Dkt. No. 103.) The Plaintiff filed her Opposition on September 20, 2017. (Dkt. No. 108.) The CCSO Defendants replied on September 27, 2017. (Dkt. No. 111.) All pretrial proceedings in this case were referred to the undersigned pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and (B) and Local Rule 73.02(B)(2)(d), DSC. This court recommends that the CCSO Defendants' Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings (Dkt. No. 103) be granted.

         Relevant Alleged Facts

         The Plaintiff alleged that in March of 2014 she was wrongfully arrested in her home for assaulting a police officer in violation of a North Charleston City Ordinance. (Dkt. No. 85 ¶ 20.) The Plaintiff was then booked into the Charleston County Detention Center (“the jail”) under the custody of the Sheriff as a result of her arrest. (Id. ¶¶ 21, 25.) After the Plaintiff was booked into the jail, the arresting officer reduced the charge against her to simple assault, which she alleged was still false. (Id. ¶ 25.) The Plaintiff alleged that the Sheriff's policy and practice at the jail is to retaliate against individuals charged with assaulting a police officer or who ask to speak to a lawyer. (Id. ¶¶ 26, 27, 30.)

         The Plaintiff was kept in the jail for a total of 17 hours and 15 minutes. (Dkt. No. 85 ¶ 32.) During that time, the Plaintiff alleged that many of her constitutional rights were violated by the Defendant jail staff, under the supervision of the Sheriff. The Plaintiff alleged that the jail staff worked in a conspiracy to deny the Plaintiff her constitutional rights. The Plaintiff alleged that she was denied access to a lawyer and was not allowed to contact anyone to inform them she was in jail. (Id. ¶ 34.) She alleged that her constitutional rights were violated when various jail Defendants: (1) improperly demanded to strip search her (Id. ¶ 41); (2) refused to tell her why she was arrested and then told her a false reason (Id. ¶ 50, 52); (3) assaulted her and then hid evidence of the assault (Id. ¶ 59); (4) mischaracterized her conduct following the assault (Id. ¶ 137); (5) falsely claimed she was intoxicated (Id. ¶ 170); (6) placed her in a restraint chair (Id. ¶ 172); (7) sexually degraded her by putting her on display (Id. ¶ 184); (8) improperly tased her (Id. ¶ 189); (9) improperly strip searched her (Id. ¶ 210); and (10) intentionally gave her a man's jail uniform to degrade her (Id. ¶ 212).

         The Plaintiff alleged that “for each year not later than 2008, ” the Sheriff has failed to properly train Defendants Farmer, Dyer, Fickett, Walters, McLauchlan, and Calvert, ” all of whom are his deputies. (Dkt. No. 85 ¶ 317.) The Plaintiff alleged that the Sheriff failed to properly review Defendants Grant Mathewes, Durbin, Keyes, Tice, and Beatty”, all of whom are his deputies, over the same time period. (Id.) The Plaintiff alleged that the Sheriff failed to train deputies in the following areas:

(a) a detainee's right to make “at least two” telephone calls during intake including a call to her lawyer, (b) a detainee's right to not be battered by a deputy, (c) that a deputy should not agree to delete evidence of another deputy's battery on a detainee, (d) that a deputy should not agree to not report a battery committed by another deputy in his or her presence, (e) that the restraints on Jane Doe did not permit a Taser to be used against her when she posed no danger of escape or serious bodily harm to a deputy, and (f) that a detainee may not be retaliated against based on either the charge against her or for demanding her rights.

(Dkt. No. 85 ¶ 320.)

         The Plaintiff alleged that the Sheriff was grossly negligent for the conduct of his deputies, but not under a theory of respondeat superior. (Dkt. No. 85 ¶ 337.) The Plaintiff alleged a total of “62 separate occurrence[es] of gross negligence by [the Sheriff's] deputies as to [the Plaintiff].” (Id. ¶ 345.) The Plaintiff did not specifically allege any other legal theory that would impute liability on the Sheriff for his subordinates' acts of gross negligence other than respondeat superior.

         The Plaintiff alleged that the Sheriff was liable for the defamatory statements of deputies Dyer, Fickett, and Washington. (Dkt. No. 85 ¶¶ 349-364.) The Plaintiff “presumes that deputies Dyer, Fickett, and Patrice Washington acted in their representative official capacities.” (Id. ¶ 350.) The Plaintiff alleged that the defamatory statements occurred on March 27-28, 2014. (Id. ¶¶ 349-364.) The alleged defamatory statements included statements regarding the Plaintiff's treatment of her mother and her state of intoxication. (Id.) The Plaintiff alleged that her mother was hospitalized at MUSC following the Plaintiff's stay in the jail. (Id. ¶ 358.) The Plaintiff alleged that she “was obligated to report to MUSC the false statements by Dyer and Washington claiming that [the Plaintiff] abused her own mother” which prevented her from having access to her mother. (Id. ¶ 359.)

         Standard of Review

         Pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a party may move for judgment on the pleadings after the pleadings are closed. A motion for judgment on the pleadings should be granted when, viewing the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, there remain no genuine issues of material fact, and the case can be decided as a matter of law. Tollison v. B & J Machinery Co., 812 F.Supp. 618, 619 (D.S.C. 1993). In considering a motion for judgment on the pleadings, the court applies the same standard as for motions made pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). Independence News, Inc. v. City of Charlotte, 568 F.3d 148, 154 (4th Cir. 2009). However, the court may also consider a defendant's answer. See Massey v. Ojaniit, 759 F.3d 343, 347 (4th Cir. 2014); see also Void v. Orangeburg Cty. Disabilities & Special Needs Bd., No. 5:14-cv-02157-JMC, 2015 WL 404247, at *2 n.1 (D.S.C. Jan. 29, 2015).

         A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) examines the legal sufficiency of the facts alleged on the face of the plaintiff's complaint. Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The “complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). A claim is facially plausible when the factual content allows the court to reasonably infer that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Id. When considering a motion to dismiss, the court must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). The court “may also consider documents attached to the complaint, see Fed. R. ...


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