Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Souffrant v. C.J. Iseman of Clarendon County

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Rock Hill Division

August 1, 2019

Thomas Souffrant, Plaintiff,
v.
C.J. Iseman of Clarendon County; and Clarendon County Sheriff's Office Defendants.

          ORDER ADOPTING IN PART AND REJECTING IN PART THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION, DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, AND GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          MARY GEIGER LEWIS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Thomas Souffrant (Souffrant), proceeding pro se, filed this case under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants C.J. Iseman (Iseman) and Clarendon County Sheriff's Office (CCSO). Souffrant alleges Iseman, in his official and individual capacity, and CCSO, in its official capacity, violated his Fourth Amendment rights by conducting an unlawful search and seizure (search and seizure claim) and using excessive force during an arrest (excessive force claim). The matter is before the Court for review of the Report and Recommendation (Report) of the United States Magistrate Judge suggesting this Court deny Souffrant's motion for summary judgment and grant in part and deny in part Iseman and CCSO's motion for summary judgment. The Report was made in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636 and Local Civil Rule 73.02 for the District of South Carolina.

         The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court. The recommendation has no presumptive weight. The responsibility to make a final determination remains with the Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270 (1976). The Court is charged with making a de novo determination of those portions of the Report to which specific objection is made, and the Court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge or recommit the matter with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The Court need not conduct a de novo review of the record “when a party makes general and conclusory objections that do not direct the court to a specific error in the [Magistrate Judge's] proposed findings and recommendations.” Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b).

         “A document filed pro se is ‘to be liberally construed.'” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). Courts are not, however, required to “conjure up questions never squarely presented to them” or seek out arguments for a party. Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).

         The Magistrate Judge filed the Report on January 17, 2019. Souffrant filed his objections on January 28, 2019, and Iseman[1] filed his objections on February 11, 2019. The Court has carefully reviewed the objections and finds only Iseman's objection to the Report's recommendation denying his motion for summary judgment on Souffrant's search and seizure claim meritorious. Therefore, the Court will enter judgment accordingly.

         DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS

         Souffrant objects to the Magistrate Judge's recommendations to (A) grant Iseman and CCSO's motion for summary judgment on Souffrant's official capacity claims, (B) deny Souffrant's motion for summary judgment on his search and seizure claim against Iseman, and (C) deny Souffrant's motion for summary judgment on his excessive force claim against Iseman. Iseman objects to the Magistrate Judge's recommendation to deny his motion for summary judgment on Souffrant's search and seizure claim and his excessive force claim.

         A. Official Capacity Claims

         Souffrant's objection to the Report summarily concludes his official capacity claims should survive summary judgment because Iseman is employed by CCSO. The objection neither specifies why CCSO may be sued in its official capacity, nor how Iseman is liable in his official capacity.

         As the Magistrate Judge correctly noted in the Report, Iseman and CCSO are not “persons” under § 1983, see Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58 (1989), and they are immune from suit in their official capacities. See Gulledge v. Smart, 878 F.2d 379 (4th Cir. 1989) (affirming the Eleventh Amendment bars suits against South Carolina sheriffs and deputies in their official capacity). Nothing in Souffrant's objection suggests this case law is not controlling in this case. The Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge's recommendation to grant Iseman and CCSO's motion for summary judgment on Souffrant's official capacity claims.

         B. Search and Seizure Claim

         Souffrant alleges Iseman conducted an unconstitutional search and seizure during a traffic stop. Iseman claims he initiated the stop after he observed Souffrant driving outside of his lane, which, in Iseman's experience, indicates fatigue or impairment. Incident Report (Inc. Rep.) at 1. After he approached the car, Iseman asked Souffrant to exit the vehicle and asked if he was impaired. Id. Souffrant claims he volunteered to take a breathalyzer test and requested Iseman write him a ticket, both of which Iseman refused to do. Pl.'s Decl. at 1-2.

         When he approached Souffrant's vehicle, Iseman observed paraphernalia in the car, such as Red Bull cans, multiple cell phones, an air freshener, and a single key in the ignition, which he stated in his affidavit are all indicators consistent with individuals smuggling contraband. Def.'s Aff. at 1-2. Iseman's suspicions grew when Souffrant told Iseman he had been in North Carolina for five days but the rental agreement for the vehicle Souffrant was driving showed the vehicle had been rented in Florida only two days earlier. Id. at 2. Souffrant also told Iseman he was visiting his cousin but was unable to provide his cousin's name or tell Iseman where his cousin lived. Id. Iseman then inquired whether there were any drugs or large amounts of cash in the car, both of which Souffrant denied. Inc. Rep. at 2. Iseman also noted Souffrant acted nervously when Iseman spoke to him during the stop. Id.

         After Iseman verified Souffrant's license and found there were no outstanding warrants, which Souffrant claims Iseman previously said would conclude the stop, Iseman asked for consent to search the car. Pl.'s Decl. at 2. Souffrant refused, and Iseman instructed his partner Deputy Braxton to lead a K-9 around the vehicle. Inc. Rep. at 2. Once the dog alerted positive for drugs, ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.