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Salley v. Myers

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

March 6, 2019

Robert Salley, Plaintiff,
v.
Officer Paul Myers, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Joseph F. Anderson, Jr. United States District Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Robert Salley, (“Plaintiff”), brings this action raising claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Officer Paul Myers (“Defendant”). This case arises out of Plaintiff's arrest on January 15, 2014. On August 23, 2018, Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 24). On September 6, 2018, Plaintiff, through counsel, responded. (ECF No. 26). On September 13, 2018, Defendant replied to Plaintiff's response. (ECF No. 27). In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(c) (D.S.C.), the case was referred to the Magistrate Judge.

         The Magistrate Judge assigned to this action[1] prepared a thorough Report and Recommendation (“Report”) and opines that this Court should grant Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment because Plaintiff fails to show he can put forth evidence to meet all the elements of malicious prosecution. (ECF No. 28). The Report sets forth, in detail, the relevant facts and standards of law on this matter, and this Court incorporates those facts and standards without a recitation.

         The Court is charged with making a de novo determination of those portions of the Report to which specific objections are made, and the Court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge, or recommit the matter to the Magistrate Judge with instructions. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). However, a district court is only required to conduct a de novo review of the specific portions of the Magistrate Judge's Report to which an objection is made. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b); Carniewski v. W. Virginia Bd. of Prob. & Parole, 974 F.2d 1330 (4th Cir. 1992). In the absence of specific objections to portions of the Report of the Magistrate, this Court is not required to give an explanation for adopting the recommendation. See Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199 (4th Cir. 1983).

         Plaintiff was advised of his right to object to the Report, which was entered on the docket on December 4, 2018. (ECF No. 29). Plaintiff, through counsel, filed objections to the Report (“Objections”) on December 5, 2018. (ECF No. 23). On December 19, 2018, Defendant filed a Reply to Plaintiff's Objections. (ECF No. 32). On January 3, 2019, Plaintiff filed a supplement to his Objections and Response in Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 35). Thus, this matter is ripe for review.

         II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         The Report recites the factual and procedural background giving rise to this action. Briefly, Defendant arrested Plaintiff on January 15, 2014, for violating City of Columbia Code § 22-72, “Congregating on streets and sidewalks.” The events leading up to Plaintiff's arrest are disputed.

         According to Plaintiff, on January 15, 2014, he was walking toward a bus stop located at the corner of Sumter Street and Laurel Street to catch a bus. Plaintiff asserts as he was walking along Sumter Street, Defendant and another City of Columbia police officer approached him from a parking lot adjacent to the sidewalk and told him he was blocking the sidewalk. Plaintiff thought the officers were kidding and tried to walk between them, but the officers grabbed him. Plaintiff claims he asked the officers “What's wrong with you?” to which Defendant responded that Plaintiff was “blocking the sidewalk.” Plaintiff claims he pointed out a man on the sidewalk drinking beer, but Defendant said “no, I want you.” Plaintiff claims that Defendant stated twice he was “making a statement” by arresting Plaintiff. Defendants handcuffed Plaintiff and searched his person. According to Plaintiff, he asked the officers what they were doing, and Defendant asked if Plaintiff was trying to avoid being arrested and stated “I'm looking for drugs.”

         Defendant's version of events leading up to the arrest is different. According to Defendant, he observed Plaintiff and another man standing on the sidewalk in front of the bus station for seven to ten minutes. Defendant claims “a few people” had to walk onto Sumter Street to walk around Plaintiff and the other man. Defendant asserts at the time, that section of Sumter Street was busy with pedestrians and buses pulling up to the sidewalk. Defendant claims he approached Plaintiff and the man Plaintiff was speaking with walked away. Defendant testified he asked Plaintiff to move and explained he needed him to do so because he was blocking the sidewalk for pedestrians. Defendant claims he tried to explain to Plaintiff his objective was to make Plaintiff move, but Plaintiff became very hostile, confrontational, and even called Defendant a “white piece of [expletive].” Defendant claims he handcuffed Plaintiff to effect an arrest because Plaintiff refused to move. According to Defendant, he patted Plaintiff down for weapons because of Plaintiff's demonstrated hostility toward Defendant and Plaintiff continued yelling after he was handcuffed. Defendant claims he did not search Plaintiff for drugs.

         After Defendant uncuffed plaintiff, he issued him a uniform traffic citation for violating City of Columbia Code § 22-72, “Congregating on streets and sidewalks.” The citation summoned Plaintiff to the municipal court, providing an appearance date of January 17, 2014. However, Plaintiff immediately went to the municipal court following his arrest and filled out a jury trial request form. Plaintiff was summoned to appear at a roster meeting on July 25, 2017, where he again demanded a jury trial, which was set for August 7, 2017. When Plaintiff appeared for his trial, Plaintiff and Defendant spoke. Plaintiff claims Defendant said he arrested Plaintiff because he thought he “had drugs, ” and then dropped the charges.

         According to Defendant, he decided not to prosecute Plaintiff because he wanted to “cut him a break” due to Plaintiff's age and the length of time that had passed since the arrest. Defendant testified that Plaintiff indicated the nolle prosequi was fine with him. Defendant gave Plaintiff a “Letter of Disposition” indicating the municipal charge was nolle prossed.

         On November 7, 2017, Plaintiff filed a lawsuit against Defendant in the Richland County Court of Common Pleas asserting claims of claims of false arrest and imprisonment and malicious prosecution pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Thereafter, Defendant removed this case to federal court and moved for summary judgment.

         III. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

         Summary judgment should be rendered if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show “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). The movant has the burden of proving that summary judgment is appropriate. Once the movant makes the showing, however, the opposing party must respond to the motion with “specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56).

         When no genuine issue of any material fact exists, summary judgment is appropriate. See Shealy v. Winston, 929 F.2d 1009, 1011 (4th Cir. 1991). In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the facts and inferences to be drawn from the evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Id. However, “the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for ...


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