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Vaughn v. Byrd

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

February 7, 2018

Earnest E. Vaughn, Sr., Plaintiff,
v.
Larry Robert Byrd, a.k.a. Robbie Byrd, and Greenwood County, Defendants.

          REPORT OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          KEVIN F. MCDONALD, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter is before the court on the plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order (“TRO”) and motion in limine (doc. 42). The plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, was a pretrial detainee at the Greenwood County Detention Center at the time of the allegations in his complaint.

         Pursuant to the provisions of Title 28, United States Code, Section 636(b)(1)(B), and Local Civ. Rule 73.02(B)(2)(d) (D.S.C.), this magistrate judge is authorized to review all pretrial matters in cases filed under Title 42, United States Code, Section 1983, and submit findings and recommendations to the district court.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         The plaintiff filed a complaint (doc. 1) and an amended complaint (doc. 15), both with various attachments, alleging that former Greenwood County Deputy Robbie Byrd and Greenwood County violated his constitutional rights. The defendants, represented by separate counsel, filed answers denying the claims (docs. 26, 31). On January 8, 2018, the undersigned recommended that the County's motion to dismiss (doc. 27) be granted (doc. 40). That motion is currently pending before the Honorable Terry L. Wooten, Chief United States District Judge. Defendant Byrd also recently filed a motion to dismiss (doc. 47). The plaintiff's response to that motion is due by February 26, 2018. On January 22, 2018, the plaintiff filed the motion that is now before the court (doc. 42), and the defendants filed separate responses in opposition on February 5, 2018 (docs. 50, 51).

         FACTS PRESENTED

         The plaintiff alleges that in March 2015 he was arrested on drug charges by Byrd and other officers in a restaurant parking lot and was transported to the Greenwood County Detention Center, where he remained in custody for eight months before posting bond (doc. 15 at 5-19). He claims the arrest was illegal and that Byrd lied to a local magistrate to obtain the resulting warrants and then requested that his bond be denied. Though he was subsequently indicted, he alleges that the indictment was improperly obtained (id.). He also claims that Byrd seized money from him as drug proceeds, and he did not get his money back when the indictment was later dismissed by the solicitor (id.). He further alleges that Byrd later resigned and was charged with misconduct in office and embezzlement (id.). The plaintiff alleges that Greenwood County is liable for failing to properly train Byrd (doc. 15-4) and because Byrd was employed as a Greenwood County deputy at the time of his alleged misconduct (doc. 1 at 6).

         APPLICABLE LAW AND ANALYSIS

         The substantive standard for granting either a TRO or a preliminary injunction is the same. See e.g., U.S. Dep't of Labor v. Wolf Run Mining Co., 452 F.3d 275, 281 n.1 (4th Cir.2006). A preliminary injunction or TRO is “an extraordinary remedy never awarded as of right.” Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 24 (2008). The United States Supreme Court has held that a party seeking a preliminary injunction or TRO must establish all four of the following elements: (1) he is likely to succeed on the merits; (2) he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief; (3) the balance of equities tips in his favor; and (4) an injunction is in the public interest. Id. at 20; The Real Truth About Obama, Inc. v. Fed. Election Comm'n, 575 F.3d 342, 346-47 (4th Cir.2009), vacated on other grounds, 559 U.S. 1089 (2010), reissued in part, 607 F.3d 355 (4th Cir.2010). A plaintiff must make a clear showing that he is likely to succeed on the merits of his claim. Winter, 555 U.S. at 22; Real Truth, 575 F.3d at 345-46. Similarly, he must make a clear showing that he is likely to be irreparably harmed absent injunctive relief. Winter, 555 U.S. at 19-20; Real Truth, 575 F.3d at 347. The court must pay particular regard to the public consequences of employing the extraordinary relief of injunction. Real Truth, 575 F.3d at 347 (quoting Winter, 555 U.S. at 19-23).

         In his motion, the plaintiff asks that the court issue a TRO and/or preliminary injunction restraining the defendants from violating his rights under the United States Constitution and from using his criminal conviction and any of the evidence from his criminal trial against him in this case (doc. 42 at 2-3). With regard to his conviction and the evidence from his criminal case, the plaintiff has also filed a motion in limine asking that such evidence be “suppressed” (id.).

         The defendants argue that the plaintiff's motion for a TRO and/or preliminary injunction should be denied because the plaintiff has failed to make the required showing. The undersigned agrees. First, the plaintiff has failed to assert any facts to make a clear showing that he is likely to succeed on the merits of the claims in his amended complaint. Second, he has failed to make a clear showing that he is likely to be irreparably harmed if preliminary relief is denied. There is no indication that the plaintiff does not have adequate remedies at law for what he alleges as a basis for a TRO and/or preliminary injunction. He has failed to show that the balance of equities tips in his favor, and he has failed to show that an injunction or TRO is in the public interest. As the plaintiff has failed to adequately support his request for this extraordinary relief, his motion should be denied.

         As to the plaintiff's motion in limine, as argued by the defendants, the admissibility at the trial of this case of the plaintiff's prior conviction(s) and the evidence and testimony presented in his criminal trial is governed by the Federal Rules of Evidence. Should this case proceed to trial, the plaintiff may renew his motion in limine at the appropriate time.

         CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION

         Now, therefore, based upon the foregoing, IT IS RECOMMENDED that the ...


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