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Mial v. Charleston County Sheriff's Department

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

August 28, 2018

Rudy Mial, Plaintiff,
Charleston County Sheriff's Department, Defendant.


         The plaintiff, Rudy Mial, filed this action raising claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law against the remaining defendant, the Charleston County Sheriff's Department.[1] 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 the motion for summary judgment filed by the Sheriff's Department. (ECF No. 57.) Mial filed a response in opposition (ECF No. 64), and the Sheriff's Department replied (ECF No. 67.) Having reviewed the parties' submissions and the applicable law, the court finds that Charleston County Sheriff's Office's motion for summary judgment should be granted.


         The following facts are either undisputed or are viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, to the extent they find support in the record. This matter arises out of the defendant's allegedly inadequate response to Mial's complaints of chest pains while he was detained in the Al Cannon Detention Center, which is operated by Defendant Charleston County Sheriff's Office.

         Upon release from his detention, Mial was diagnosed by his doctor at the Veterans Administration with pneumonia. Pertinent to the instant motion, Mial raises claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, and various state law claims.


         A. Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary 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).

         In 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. The 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.

         B. Mial's Claims Against Charleston County Sheriff's Office

         1. Federal Claims

         The defendant correctly asserts that Mial's claims for alleged violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment fail as a matter of law because the defendant is immune from suit. See Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58 (1989) (recognizing that “arms of the State” are not “persons” under § 1983, and observing that “[w]e cannot conclude that § 1983 was intended to disregard the well-established immunity of a State from being sued without its consent”). Moreover, because the State of South Carolina has not waived its immunity from suit in state court for § 1983 claims, the defendant's voluntary removal of this case to federal court has not, in this instance, effected a waiver of the State's immunity from suit for these claims. See Stewart v. North Carolina, 393 F.3d 484, 490 (4th Cir. 2005) (holding that the State did not waive sovereign immunity by voluntarily removing the action to federal court for resolution of the immunity question); see also S.C. Code Ann. § 15-78-20(e); cf. Lapides v. Bd. of Regents, 535 U.S. 613, 622 (2002) (holding that a State that voluntarily invokes the jurisdiction of the federal court waives immunity for claims in which it has consented to suit in its own courts). Accordingly, the Charleston County Sheriff's Office is immune from suit with regard to these claims, and the defendant's motion for summary judgment should be granted as to any federal claims.

         2. State Law Claims [2]

         With regard to Mial's claim purporting to arise under S.C. Code Ann. § 16-5-60, it appears that every court considering this statute has held that it was impliedly repealed by the South Carolina Tort Claims Act. See, e.g., Doe v. McGowan, No. 2:16-CV-00777-RMG, 2017 WL 659938 (D.S.C. Feb. 13, 2017) (agreeing with Report and Recommendation dated January 9, 2017 collecting cases); Sadek v. Lambert, No. 0:13-CV-02174-TLW, 2014 WL 117671 (D.S.C. Jan. 13, 2014).

         3. South ...

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