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Doe-4 v. Horry County

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

February 28, 2019

JANE DOE-4, Plaintiff,
v.
HORRY COUNTY, SOUTH CAROLINA, HORRY COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT, SAUNDRA RHODES, SCOTT RUTHERFORD, THOMAS DELPERCIO, WILLIAM SQUIRES, and DALE BUCHANAN, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          MARY GEIGER LEWIS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff 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. § 1367.

         Pending 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 judgment.

         II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         According 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.

         Doe-4 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.

         Large 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.

         Large 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.

         During 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 12.

         The 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.

         During 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.

         Doe-3 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.

         Doe-4 did not name Large as a defendant in this matter. She dismissed Delpercio from the action before Defendants filed this motion for summary judgment.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Summary 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).

         A party 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).

         “[W]here 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.

         IV. CONTENTIONS OF THE PARTIES

         Defendants 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.

         Doe-4 refutes each of Defendants' arguments.

         V. ...


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