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Hanna v. Dillon Police Department

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

August 27, 2019

LINDA HANNA and GARY HANNA, Plaintiffs,
v.
DILLON POLICE DEPARTMENT, and CORPORAL BRIAN GENWRIGHT, individually and as an employee of Dillon Police Department, Defendants.

          ORDER ADOPTING THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION AND GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          MARY GEIGER LEWIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiffs Linda Hanna (Mrs. Hanna) and Gary Hanna (Mr. Hanna) (collectively, the Hannas) filed this lawsuit against Defendant Dillon Police Department (Dillon P.D.) and Corporal Brian Genwright (Genwright) (collectively, Defendants). They brought their claims against Genwright both in his individual and official capacity as an employee of the Dillon P.D.

         Mrs. Hanna makes section 1983 claims against Defendants of unlawful arrest, unlawful detention, and excessive force, and state law claims against Genwright of assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. In addition, Mr. Hanna asserts a claim for loss of consortium against Defendants.

         The matter is before the Court for review of the Report and Recommendation (Report) of the United States Magistrate Judge suggesting Defendants' motion for summary judgment be granted in part and denied in part. Specifically, the Magistrate Judge suggests Defendants' motion be granted as to: (1) Mrs. Hanna's section 1983 claim for unlawful arrest against Defendants, (2) all of her other section 1983 claims against the Dillon P.D., (3) her state law claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress against Genwright, and (3) Mr. Hanna's claim for loss of consortium against Defendants.

         The Magistrate Judge recommends Defendants' motion for summary judgment be denied, however, with respect to: (1) Mrs. Hanna's section 1983 claims against Genwright for unlawful detention and excessive force, as well as (2) her state law claims against him for assault and battery. The Magistrate Judge filed the Report 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 Magistrate Judge filed the Report on June 20, 2019, Defendants filed their objections on July 3, 2019, and the Hannas filed their reply to Defendants' objections on July 17, 2019. The Court has carefully reviewed Defendants' objections, but holds them to be without merit. It will therefore enter judgment accordingly.

         The Hannas failed to file any objections to the Magistrate Judge's suggestion the Court grant summary judgment on certain of their claims. “[I]n the absence of a timely filed objection [to those portions of the Report, the Court] need not conduct a de novo review, but instead must ‘only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation.'” Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 72 advisory committee's note). Moreover, a failure to object waives appellate review. Wright v. Collins, 766 F.2d 841, 845-46 (4th Cir. 1985).

         According to the Complaint, “[o]n or about December 9, 2015, [Mrs.] Hanna was operating in her capacity as a transportation supervisor for Dillon County School District Four when she boarded a school bus that was stopped for a fight between students.” Complaint ¶ 10. “Genwright was operating in his capacity as an officer with Defendant Dillon [P.D.] when he was dispatched to the scene as a result of the fight between students.” Id. ¶ 11 “Genwright entered the school bus at the same time as [Mrs.] Hanna.” Id. ¶ 12. “Genwright attempted to release a student on the school bus to a gentleman standing outside the bus after [Mrs.] Hanna said she could not release the child to anyone without the child being signed out at school, per Dillon County School policy.” Id. ¶ 13. “[Mrs.] Hanna further explained to . . . Genwright she had not verified the gentleman outside the bus was the student's custodial parent.” Id. ¶ 14.

         “In response to [Mrs.] Hanna's . . . concern for the student's safety and the district policies, . . . Genwright, . . . handcuffed [Mrs.] Hanna and pulled her down the isle of the school bus.” Id. ¶ 15. “Once the student was off the bus, . . . Genwright removed the handcuffs from [her].” Id. ¶ 16. “[Mrs.] Hanna was never charged with any crime.” Id. ¶ 17.

         First, Defendants contend the Magistrate Judge erred in suggesting the Court deny their motion for summary judgment on Hanna's claims against Genwright for assault and battery. The Court disagrees.

         Defendants contend “Genwright was clearly acting within the course and scope of his employment with the City of Dillon [P.D.].” Objections 2. They argue “that his intention in handcuffing [Mrs. Hanna] was to maintain control and prevent the situation from escalating.” Id. According to Defendants, Mrs. Hanna “has come forward with no evidence . . . Genwright's actions were done with the intent to cause her harm.” Id.

         The Hannas, however, state “the actions of Defendant Genwright were committed with both actual malice and intent to harm because . . . Genwright knew or should have known that he had no foundation to violate [Mrs.] Hanna's rights by detaining her and in doing so committing an assault and battery with the intent to harm and/or with actual malice.” Hanna's Reply 4. According to the Hannas, “[w]hether or not the acts were committed with actual malice and/or intent to harm is a genuine issue of material fact.” Id.

         The South Carolina Tort Claims Act provides to the State, its political subdivisions, and employees, while acting within the scope of official duty, immunity from liability for any tort, except as waived therein. S.C. Code Ann. § 15-78-20(b). Section 15-78-70(a) states that “[a]n employee of a governmental entity who commits a tort while acting within the scope of his official duty is not liable therefore except as expressly provided for in subsection (b).” As per subsection (b), an employee does not have immunity from suit, “if it is proved that the employee's conduct was not within the scope of ...


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