United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS'
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
GEIGER LEWIS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Jane Doe-3 (Doe-3) filed this lawsuit against Defendants
Horry County, South Carolina, the Horry County Police
Department (HCPD), Troy Allen Large (Large), Saundra Rhodes
(Rhodes), Scott Rutherford (Rutherford), Thomas Delpercio
(Delpercio), William Squires (Squires), and Dale Buchanan
(Buchanan), alleging violations of her constitutional rights,
42 U.S.C. § 1983, and a state law claim of
negligence/gross negligence. The Court has federal-question
jurisdiction over the federal claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1331 and supplemental jurisdiction over the state
claim under 28 U.S.C. § 1367.
before the Court is Defendants Rhodes, Rutherford, Delpercio,
Squires, and Buchanan's (collectively Defendants) motion
for summary judgment. Having considered the motion,
Doe-3's response, Defendants' reply, the record, and
the relevant law, the Court will deny Defendants' motion
for summary judgment.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
says she initially came into contact with Large, a detective
with the HCPD, in 1996 when he was assigned to investigate
her case after she made allegations her then-husband
assaulted her. Confidential Exhibit 1, Page 23, Lines 11-Page
24, Line 2. Doe-3 encountered him again in March of 1998 when
he was assigned to investigate another domestic violence
incident in which she was shot once through the hip and four
times through the hand by her then-husband. Confidential
Exhibit 1, Page 24, Lines 12-20.
stated she had no real concerns regarding her contact with
Large during this time period, except he was “very
flirty.” Confidential Exhibit 1, Page 26, Line 20-Page
27, Line 10. According to Doe-3, after the court proceedings
were finalized leading to her then-husband's conviction,
she left South Carolina in 2001 and moved to Tennessee.
Confidential Exhibit 1, Page 25, Lines 11-21.
Doe-3 left South Carolina, she said she lost contact with
Large for approximately ten years. Confidential Exhibit 1,
Page 33, Lines 16-21. She moved back to South Carolina in
2005; but did not come into contact with him again until
January 2015, after a third domestic violence incident in
which she accused her then-husband of threatening her and
members of her family with a firearm. Confidential Exhibit 1,
Page 34, Line 19-Page 35, Line 12. Large came to her home in
light of this report of domestic violence. Confidential
Exhibit 1, Page 35, Lines 2-8.
testified that Detective Large, after responding to the
January 2015 domestic violence incident, began to visit her
between two and three times a week. Confidential Exhibit 1,
Page 40, Line 1-8. She stated that, between January of 2015
and December of 2015, Large assaulted her on fifty occasions,
which included multiple instances of sexual assault.
Confidential Exhibit 1, Page 127, Line 18-Page 128, Line 7;
Page 123, Line 24-Page 125, Line 9. Doe-3 also attested Large
coerced her into participating in a private wrestling match
with another victim of domestic violence at a law enforcement
officer's home in North Carolina. Confidential Exhibit 1,
Doe-3 Depo. at Page 40, Line 22-Page 41, Line 3; Page 43,
Lines 6-23; Page 118, Lines 21-24; Page 129, Lines 1-8.
stated she felt restrained from leaving because of the
presence of armed law enforcement officers at the fight.
Confidential Exhibit 1, Page 118, Lines 21-24. Doe-3
testified her encounters with Large were not consensual and
that she was repulsed by him; but she felt forced to engage
in these activities as a result of his position of authority.
Confidential Exhibit 1, Page 71, Line 10-Page 72, Line 5.
HCPD received a report in July 2015 of criminal sexual
conduct by Large. Confidential Exhibit 4. After investigating
the July 2015 allegations, the HCPD Office of Internal
Affairs sustained the allegations. Id. The HCPD
subsequently referred the case to the South Carolina Law
Enforcement Division in November 2015. Confidential Exhibit
Horry County Grand Jury indicted Large on September 15, 2016,
bringing eleven counts of criminal sexual conduct and
misconduct in office against him. Confidential Exhibit 3. Two
of the eleven counts specifically address his alleged
criminal interactions with Plaintiff. Id.
the relevant period of time, “Rhodes was the duly
appointed Chief of Police for the Horry Count Police
Department. As such, she was the commanding officer of . . .
Large, ” Complaint ¶ 4; and “Rutherford,
Delpercio, Squires, and Buchanan were the supervising
officers of . . . Large, ” Id. ¶ 5.
filed this action in the Horry County Court of Common Pleas.
Defendants thereafter removed the case to this Court.
Defendants subsequently filed this motion for summary
judgement, Doe-3 filed her response in opposition, and
Defendants filed their reply. Afterwards, the case was
reassigned to this Court.
who was initially a defendant in this case, died after Doe-3
filed this lawsuit. She dismissed Large and Delpercio from
the action after Defendants filed their motion for summary
STANDARD OF REVIEW
judgment is appropriate only “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.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In deciding whether a genuine issue of
material fact exists, the evidence of the non-moving party is
to be believed and all justifiable inferences must be drawn
in his favor. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). 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; see also Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).
asserting that a fact is genuinely disputed must support the
assertion by “citing to particular parts of materials
in the record, including depositions, documents,
electronically stored information, affidavits or
declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes
of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or
other materials.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). A litigant
“cannot create a genuine issue of material fact through
mere speculation or the building of one inference upon
another.” Beale v. Hardy, 769 F.2d 213, 214
(4th Cir. 1985). Therefore, “[m]ere unsupported
speculation . . . is not enough to defeat a summary judgment
motion.” Ennis v. Nat'l Ass'n of Bus. &
Educ. Radio, Inc., 53 F.3d 55, 62 (4th Cir. 1995).
the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier
of fact to find for the non-moving party, disposition by
summary judgment is appropriate.” Teamsters Joint
Council No. 83 v. Centra, Inc., 947 F.2d 115, 119 (4th
Cir. 1996). “Summary judgment is proper only when it is
clear that there is no dispute concerning either the facts of
the controversy or the inferences to be drawn from those
facts.” Pulliam Inv. Co. v. Cameo Props., 810
F.2d 1282, 1286 (4th Cir. 1987). The court must determine
“whether the evidence presents a sufficient
disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is
so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of
law.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52.
CONTENTIONS OF THE PARTIES
contend Doe-3's allegations of Defendants' actions
and/or inactions fail to rise to the level of a violation of
the constitution or federal law. In addition, according to
Defendants, they are entitled to sovereign and qualified
immunity. Defendants also claim they have no liability under
42 U.S.C. § 1983 as they are not “persons”
as that term is defined in the statute.
refutes each of Defendants' arguments.