United States District Court, D. South Carolina
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
J. Gossett, United States Magistrate Judge.
plaintiff, Dana Fetherson, proceeding pro se, filed
this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
This matter is before the court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2) (D.S.C.) for a Report
and Recommendation on Defendant's motion for summary
judgment. (ECF No. 110.) Pursuant to Roseboro v.
Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), the court
advised Plaintiff of the summary judgment and dismissal
procedures and the possible consequences if he failed to
respond adequately to Defendants' motion. (ECF No. 113.)
Plaintiff filed a response in opposition to the motion (ECF
No. 126), and Defendant filed a reply (ECF No. 127). Having
reviewed the record presented and the applicable law, the
court finds Defendant's motion should be granted as to
Plaintiff's federal claims.
following facts are either undisputed, or are taken in the
light most favorable to Plaintiff, to the extent they find
support in the record. On December 28, 2003, Defendant
Lieutenant Blackmon of the Lancaster County Sheriff's
Department obtained a warrant for Plaintiff's arrest for
the murder of Jason Burgess. (Blackmon Aff. ¶ 17,
Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. 110-2 at 4.) On January
15, 2004, a Lancaster County Grand Jury indicted Plaintiff
for murder. (Id. ¶ 22, ECF No. 110-2 at 6.)
Plaintiff was arrested that day by a different Lancaster
County sheriff's deputy. (Id. ¶ 18.)
Plaintiff pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter on June 7,
2004. (Ex. O, Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. 110-2 at
filed this action on September 19, 2016. Plaintiff alleges
Defendant obtained the arrest warrant without probable cause
and without a warrant affidavit. (Am. Compl., ECF No. 26-1 at
5.) He also claims that Defendant lied to a grand jury about
witnessing the murder to secure an indictment against him.
(Id. at 7.) Plaintiff claims Defendant's conduct
caused him mental pain and suffering and emotional
distress. (Id. at 8.)
Motion for Summary Judgment Standard
judgment is appropriate only if the moving party “shows
that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and
the [moving party] is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A party may support or refute
that a material fact is not disputed by “citing to
particular parts of materials in the record” or by
“showing that the materials cited do not establish the
absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse
party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the
fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). Rule 56 mandates entry of
summary judgment “against a party who fails to make a
showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element
essential to that party's case.” Celotex Corp.
v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
deciding whether there is a genuine issue of material fact,
the evidence of the non-moving party is to be believed and
all justifiable inferences must be drawn in favor of the
non-moving party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). However, “[o]nly
disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit
under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of
summary judgment. Factual disputes that are irrelevant or
unnecessary will not be counted.” Id. at 248.
moving party has the burden of proving that summary judgment
is appropriate. Once the moving party makes this showing,
however, the opposing party may not rest upon mere
allegations or denials, but rather must, by affidavits or
other means permitted by the Rule, set forth specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. See
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c), (e); Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at
322. Further, while the federal court is charged with
liberally construing a complaint filed by a pro se
litigant to allow the development of a potentially
meritorious case, see, e.g., Erickson
v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89 (2007), the requirement of
liberal construction does not mean that the court can ignore
a clear failure in the pleadings to allege facts which set
forth a federal claim, nor can the court assume the existence
of a genuine issue of material fact where none exists.
Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387
(4th Cir. 1990).
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment
argues that Plaintiff's § 1983 claims are barred
pursuant to Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994).
The court agrees.
Heck, the United States Supreme Court held that a
state prisoner's claim for damages is not cognizable
under § 1983 where success of the action would
implicitly question the validity of the conviction or
duration of the sentence, unless the prisoner can demonstrate
that the conviction or sentence has been previously
invalidated. Id. at 487; see also Wilkinson v.
Dotson, 544 U.S. 74, 81-82 (2005) (“[A] state
prisoner's § 1983 action is barred (absent prior
invalidation)-no matter the relief sought (damages or
equitable relief), no matter the target of the prisoner's
suit (state conduct leading to conviction or internal prison
proceedings)-if success in that action would necessarily
demonstrate the invalidity of confinement or its
duration.”). Here, Plaintiff's § 1983 claim
for false arrest and imprisonment rests on the circumstances
he is using to challenge his conviction his state
post-conviction relief application. Thus, the Heck
bar applies here because if Plaintiff were to prevail on the
merits of his claim, it would imply that his state criminal
conviction was unlawful. See Wilson v. Johnson, 535
F.3d 262, 265 n.4 (4th Cir. 2008) (stating the purpose of the
Heck bar is to preclude inconsistent judgments and
“undue federal interference with states'
administration of justice”).
provides no evidence that he has successfully challenged the
validity of his conviction. Plaintiff pled guilty to
voluntary manslaughter on June 7, 2004 and was sentenced to
fifteen years' imprisonment. (Ex. O, Def.'s Mot. for
Summ. J., ECF No. 110-2 at 62.) Plaintiff provides no
indication that he appealed his guilty plea. Plaintiff filed
an application for post-conviction relief on October 8, 2004,
wherein he did not raise any of the issues he raises in the
instant matter. (Pl.'s Resp., ECF No. 126-4 at 7-8.)
Plaintiff voluntarily withdrew this application at a hearing
on August 9, 2006, and the application was dismissed with
prejudice. (Id.) Plaintiff filed a second
application for post-conviction relief on August 29, 2015
that was conditionally dismissed on March 5, 2016.
(Id. at 7-13.) In the second application, Plaintiff
raised similar claims as in this matter-that probable cause
for his arrest did not exist because the arrest warrant did