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
("R. & R.") of the Magistrate Judge (Dkt. No.
81) recommending that the Court grant in part, deny in part,
and find moot in part Defendants' Partial Motion to
Dismiss (Dkt. No. 57). Plaintiff filed objections to the R.
& R., and Defendants filed a reply. (Dkt. Nos. 83, 86.)
For the reasons set forth below, the Court adopts the R.
& R. as the order of the Court. Defendants' Partial
Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. No. 57) is GRANTED
as to Plaintiffs Eleventh and Sixteenth Causes of Action,
DENIED as to Plaintiffs Fourth Cause of
Action, and found to be MOOT as to
Plaintiffs First and Fifteenth Causes of Action.
Background and Relevant Facts
Court adopts the relevant facts as outlined in the R. &
R. (Dkt. No. 81 at 1-4.)
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court.
The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the
responsibility for making a final determination remains with
this Court. See Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261,
270-71 (1976). This Court is charged with making a de
novo determination of those portions of the Report and
Recommendation to which specific objection is made.
Additionally, the Court may "accept, reject, or modify,
in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by
the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). In
the absence of any specific objections, "a district
court need not conduct a de novo review, but instead
must only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the
face of the record in order to accept the
recommendation." See Diamond v. Colonial Life &
Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005)
(internal quotation omitted).
First and Fifteenth Causes of Action
First and Fifteenth Causes of Action seek injunctive and
declaratory relief, respectively, against the City of North
Charleston under Title 42, United States Code, Section 1983.
Plaintiff has clarified that her requests for injunctive and
declaratory relief pertain to "post-verdict
relief." (Dkt. No. 61 at 1.) The Magistrate Judge has
therefore recommended that the Court deny Defendants'
Partial Motion to Dismiss as moot with respect to Plaintiffs
First and Fifteenth Causes of Action. No. party has objected
to the Magistrate Judge's recommendation, and the Court
finds that the Magistrate Judge has correctly applied the
controlling law to the relevant facts. Defendants'
Partial Motion to Dismiss is therefore denied as moot with
respect to Plaintiffs First and Fifteenth Causes of Action.
Fourth Cause of Action
Fourth Cause of Action alleges that Defendants McGowan,
Doxey, Wohlleb, and the City of North Charleston are liable
for invasion of privacy under Section 1983 and under state
law for their warrantless entry into Plaintiffs
residence. Defendants argue in their Partial Motion
to Dismiss that Plaintiffs Fourth Cause of Action is
duplicative because it is subsumed within Plaintiffs Second
Cause of Action, which is a Section 1983 claim against
Defendants McGowan, Wohlleb, and Doxey for warrantless entry
into her home. As the Magistrate Judge explained, while
Plaintiffs Second and Fourth Causes of Action may be
duplicative, that is not sufficient grounds to dismiss the
Fourth Cause of Action, and allowing both claims to proceed
at this time will not lead to excess discovery. (Dkt. No. 81
at 8.) The Magistrate Judge also explained that Plaintiffs
allegations about Defendants' warrantless entry into her
home are sufficient to state a state law claim for invasion
of privacy. (Dkt. No. 81 at 16.) The Magistrate Judge
therefore recommended that this Court deny Defendants'
Partial Motion to Dismiss as to Plaintiffs Fourth Cause of
Action. No. party has objected to the Magistrate Judge's
recommendation, and the Court finds that the Magistrate Judge
has correctly applied the controlling law to the relevant
facts. Defendants' Partial Motion to Dismiss is denied as
to Plaintiffs Fourth Cause of Action.
Sixteenth Cause of Action
Sixteenth Cause of Action alleges that the City is liable
under Section 1983 or, in the alternative, under state law
for unauthorized surveillance of Plaintiff and her home
through attorney Sandra J. Senn. Plaintiff claims that
Senn's actions violated the City's official policy
which forbids police from conducting surveillance that is not
directly related to suspected criminal activity. As the
Magistrate Judge explained in the R. & R., the law is
well-settled that a breach of internal policy alone cannot be
the basis for a Section 1983 claim. (Dkt. No. 81 at 14.) The
Magistrate Judge therefore recommended that Plaintiffs
Section 1983 claim for unauthorized surveillance in the
Sixteenth Cause of Action be dismissed because Plaintiff has
not sufficiently pleaded that the City has a policy or custom
to unconstitutionally surveil the Plaintiff through its
attorney, Sandra Senn.
Magistrate Judge also recommended that this Court dismiss the
state law invasion of privacy claim within Plaintiffs
Sixteenth Cause of Action because Plaintiffs vague
allegations about Sandra Senn's surveillance of her
residence do not include factual allegations sufficient to
maintain a claim against the City for unlawful surveillance,
not least because Senn was not an employee of the city, and
Plaintiff has not alleged that any Defendant in this case
intentionally committed an invasion of privacy. No. party
objected to the Magistrate Judge's recommendations, and
the Court finds that the Magistrate Judge has ...