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-4 (Doe-4) filed this lawsuit against Defendants
Horry County, South Carolina, the Horry County Police
Department (HCPD), 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. §
before the Court is Defendants Rhodes, Rutherford, Squires,
and Buchanan's (collectively Defendants) motion for
summary judgment. Having considered the motion, Doe-4's
response, Defendants' reply, the record, and the relevant
law, the Court will deny Defendants' motion for summary
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
to Doe-4, her first contact with Large was in the fall of
2014. Confidential Exhibit 1, Page 21, Lines 19-23. She was
actively using heroin at the time. Confidential Exhibit 1,
Page 30, Lines 7-11. Large called Doe-4 on her phone and let
her know he was a law enforcement official. Confidential
Exhibit 1, Page 24, Lines 1-4. Large told her he needed to
speak with her, although he failed to say why. Confidential
Exhibit 1, Page 24, Line 5-13.
thought Large wanted to talk to her as a law enforcement
officer regarding either her use of heroin or her
brothers' recent interactions with law enforcement.
Confidential Exhibit 1, Page 79, Line 17-Page 80, Line 16.
Large came to Doe-4's residence not long after his
initial call. Confidential Exhibit 1, Page 24, Line 10-13.
After arriving, Large drove Doe-4 to the grocery store.
Confidential Exhibit 1, Page 27, Line 1-11.
told Doe-4 he had searched the police database and knew of
her arrest history as well as her sexual abuse as a child.
Confidential Exhibit 1, Page 27, Line 12-Page 28, Line 6.
After Large purchased Doe-4's groceries, he drove her
home. Confidential Exhibit 1, Page 27, Lines 8-11.
visited Doe-4 again the next day at her home. Confidential
Exhibit 1, Page 34, Lines 1-15. This time, he went into her
bedroom. Confidential Exhibit 1, Page 34, Lines 13-24. Doe-4
states Large saw her heroin needles on a bookshelf.
Id. According to Doe-4, Large put his service weapon
beside the heroin needles; and then “he . . . pushed
her down on the bed and . . . ripped [her] shorts off, and .
. . started giving [her] oral sex.” Confidential
Exhibit 1, Page 34, Line 1-Page 35, Line 21.
the following months, Large asked Doe-4 to participate in
fights with other women, touched her inappropriately many
times, and drove her to buy heroin in his police vehicle.
Confidential Exhibit 1, Page 36, Lines 13-17; Page 39, Lines
3-13; Page 43, Line 24-Page 44, Line 9. In February 2015,
Doe-4 entered a drug rehab facility; and, after she
disconnected her mobile phone, she never heard from Large
again. Confidential Exhibit 1, Page 53, Line 3-Page 54, Line
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 2.
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 ¶ 3 and “Rutherford,
Delpercio, Squires, and Buchanan were the supervising
officers of . . . Large, ” Id. ¶ 4.
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-4 filed her response in opposition, and
Defendants filed their reply. Afterwards, the case was
reassigned to this Court.
did not name Large as a defendant in this matter. She
dismissed Delpercio from the action before Defendants filed
this motion for summary judgment.
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-4'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.