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Workman v. Perry

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

July 6, 2018

Olandio Ray Workman, Plaintiff,
v.
Robert Joseph Perry, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Bryan Harwell United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Olandio Ray Workman, a state pretrial detainee proceeding pro se, brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendant Robert Joseph Perry, who has filed a motion for summary judgment. See ECF No. 29. The matter is now before the Court for consideration of Plaintiff's objections to the Report and Recommendation (“R & R”) of United States Magistrate Judge Kevin F. McDonald, who recommends granting Defendant's motion for summary judgment.[1] See ECF Nos. 65 & 67.

         Legal Standards

         I. Review of the R & R

         The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the Court. The Magistrate Judge's recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the responsibility to make a final determination remains with the Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). The Court must conduct a de novo review of those portions of the R & R to which specific objections are made, and it may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge or recommit the matter with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b).

         The Court must engage in a de novo review of every portion of the Magistrate Judge's report to which objections have been filed. Id. However, the Court need not conduct a de novo review when a party makes only “general and conclusory objections that do not direct the [C]ourt to a specific error in the [M]agistrate [Judge]'s proposed findings and recommendations.” Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). In the absence of specific objections to the R & R, the Court reviews only for clear error, Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005), and the Court need not give any explanation for adopting the Magistrate Judge's recommendation. Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199-200 (4th Cir. 1983).

         II. Summary Judgment

         Summary judgment is appropriate when no genuine issue of material fact exists and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Reyazuddin v. Montgomery Cty., Md., 789 F.3d 407, 413 (4th Cir. 2015); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a) (“The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”). “A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by: (A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record . . .; or (B) 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). The facts and inferences to be drawn from the evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, Reyazuddin, 789 F.3d at 413, but the Court “cannot weigh the evidence or make credibility determinations.” Jacobs v. N.C. Admin. Office of the Courts, 780 F.3d 562, 569 (4th Cir. 2015).

         Moreover, “the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). “A dispute of material fact is ‘genuine' if sufficient evidence favoring the non-moving party exists for the trier of fact to return a verdict for that party.” Seastrunk v. United States, 25 F.Supp.3d 812, 814 (D.S.C. 2014). A fact is “material” if proof of its existence or nonexistence would affect disposition of the case under the applicable law. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

         At the summary judgment stage, “the moving party must demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Once the moving party has met his burden, the nonmoving party must come forward with some evidence beyond the mere allegations contained in the pleadings to show that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Baber v. Hosp. Corp. of Am., 977 F.2d 872, 874-75 (4th Cir. 1992) (internal citation omitted). Summary judgment is not warranted unless, “from the totality of the evidence, including pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and affidavits, the [C]ourt believes no genuine issue of material fact exists for trial and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Whiteman v. Chesapeake Appalachia, L.L.C., 729 F.3d 381, 385 (4th Cir. 2013); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986).

         Discussion[2]

         Plaintiff, presently detained at the Greenville County Detention Center on state charges, [3] filed a § 1983 complaint alleging Defendant (who is a deputy employed by the Greenville County Sheriff's Office) looked inside the mailbox at Plaintiff's house in Piedmont, South Carolina, without a search warrant. See ECF No. 1. Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment with several exhibits, including an affidavit in which he avers, “I have never opened Olandio Workman's mailbox . . . .” See ECF No. 29-1 at p. 3. The Magistrate Judge recommends granting Defendant's motion for summary judgment because (1) Plaintiff lacks standing and (2) Defendant is entitled to qualified immunity and Eleventh Amendment immunity. See R & R at pp. 3-6. Plaintiff objects to the Magistrate Judge's recommendations.[4] See ECF No. 67 [Pl.'s Objs.] at pp. 1-2.[5]

         Assuming arguendo that Plaintiff has standing (contrary to the Magistrate Judge's finding), [6] the Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge that the Eleventh Amendment bars Plaintiff from suing Defendant for monetary damages in his official capacity. See Lawson v. Union Cty. Clerk of Court, 828 F.3d 239, 278 (4th Cir. 2016) (“The Eleventh Amendment bars suit against state officials in their official capacity for damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.”); Gulledge v. Smart, 691 F.Supp. 947, 955 (D.S.C. 1988) (holding deputy sheriffs are state officials for § 1983 purposes), aff'd, 878 F.2d 379 (4th Cir. 1989); Cone v. Nettles, 417 S.E.2d 523, 524 (S.C. 1992) (same).[7]

         Moreover, Plaintiff's individual capacity claims fail because he has not presented any actual evidence contradicting the sworn statement in Defendant's affidavit that he never opened Plaintiff's mailbox.[8]See ECF No. 29-1 at p. 3. Because it is undisputed that Defendant never opened Plaintiff's mailbox (the crux of Plaintiff's claim), Defendant is entitled to summary judgment on this basis. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248 (“[A] party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of his pleading, but must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” (internal quotation marks and ellipsis omitted) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)).[9] Similarly, Defendant is entitled to qualified immunity because if he did not open Plaintiff's mailbox, he could not have violated Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights. SeeThompson ...


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