United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Rock Hill Division
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
GEIGER LEWIS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
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.
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).
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).
Magistrate Judge filed the Report on January 17, 2019.
Souffrant filed his objections on January 28, 2019, and
Iseman 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.
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
Official Capacity Claims
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.
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.
Search and Seizure Claim
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.
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.
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, ...