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Parson v. Miles

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

January 6, 2020

Arnold Parson Jr., Plaintiff,
v.
Darren Miles, Supervisor Judy Barker, Officer Jack McCaskill, Officer Mitchell McCaskill, Officer Charlie Watson, Officer Dewayne Rogers, Officer Jeff Gause, Officer Samantha Jackson, Officer Jonathan Edwards, Officer Robert Page, Officer Michael Latu, Officer Dale Sylvester, Officer Tracey Causey, and Officer Greg Pike, Defendants.

          ORDER

          R. BRYAN HARWELL, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Arnold Parson Jr., proceeding pro se, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging, among other claims, that he was handcuffed in an excessively tight manner. The matter is now before the Court for consideration of Defendants' objections to the Report and Recommendation (“R & R”) of United States Magistrate Judge Kaymani D. West, who recommends denying their motion for summary judgment.[1]

         Legal Standards

         I. Review of the R & R

         The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the Court. The Magistrate Judge's recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the responsibility to make a final determination remains with the Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). The Court must conduct a de novo review of those portions of the R & R to which specific objections are made, and it 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); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b).

         The Court must engage in a de novo review of every portion of the Magistrate Judge's report to which objections have been filed. Id. However, the Court need not conduct a de novo review when a party makes only “general and conclusory objections that do not direct the [C]ourt to a specific error in the [M]agistrate [Judge]'s proposed findings and recommendations.” Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). In the absence of specific objections to the R & R, the Court reviews only for clear error, Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005), and the Court need not give any explanation for adopting the Magistrate Judge's recommendation. Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199-200 (4th Cir. 1983).

         II. Summary Judgment

         Summary judgment is appropriate when no genuine issue of material fact exists and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Reyazuddin v. Montgomery Cty., Md., 789 F.3d 407, 413 (4th Cir. 2015); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a) (“The court shall grant summary judgment 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.”). “A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by: (A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record . . .; or (B) showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). The facts and inferences to be drawn from the evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, Reyazuddin, 789 F.3d at 413, but the Court “cannot weigh the evidence or make credibility determinations.” Jacobs v. N.C. Admin. Office of the Courts, 780 F.3d 562, 569 (4th Cir. 2015).

         Moreover, “the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). “A dispute of material fact is ‘genuine' if sufficient evidence favoring the non-moving party exists for the trier of fact to return a verdict for that party.” Seastrunk v. United States, 25 F.Supp.3d 812, 814 (D.S.C. 2014). A fact is “material” if proof of its existence or nonexistence would affect disposition of the case under the applicable law. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

         At the summary judgment stage, “the moving party must demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Once the moving party has met his burden, the nonmoving party must come forward with some evidence beyond the mere allegations contained in the pleadings to show that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Baber v. Hosp. Corp. of Am., 977 F.2d 872, 874-75 (4th Cir. 1992) (internal citation omitted). Summary judgment is not warranted unless, “from the totality of the evidence, including pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and affidavits, the [C]ourt believes no genuine issue of material fact exists for trial and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Whiteman v. Chesapeake Appalachia, L.L.C., 729 F.3d 381, 385 (4th Cir. 2013); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986).

         Facts

         Plaintiff filed this § 1983 action alleging his constitutional rights were violated when Marion County law enforcement executed a state-court writ of assistance and forcibly removed him from foreclosed property by arresting him. Plaintiff's sole remaining claim is his § 1983 excessive force claim relating to his allegedly excessively tight handcuffing during his arrest; this claim is pending against the fourteen above-captioned Defendants in their individual capacities.[2] See ECF No. 161 (verified third amended complaint).

         The evidence shows Defendants-who are agents/employees of the Marion County Sheriff's Department-went to Plaintiff's residence in Mullins, South Carolina, on the morning of November 2, 2015, to execute the writ of assistance and eject him from the premises. The parties have provided video footage from the scene (recorded by patrol vehicle and body cameras). See ECF Nos. 50, 78, 104, 213, & 219.

         The videos depict multiple police vehicles arriving at a mobile home and surrounding it. Armed officers approach the front of the house, and one officer knocks on the front door. Plaintiff can be heard inside asking, “Who is it?”; the officer replies, “Sheriff's Office, ” and tells him to open the door; and Plaintiff says he is putting on clothes. Plaintiff then exits the front door with both arms raised and stands on the porch while holding a cell phone in one hand and a cigarette in another. He is barefoot and dressed in a T-shirt and shorts. Plaintiff states, “I don't know what's going on, ” and after an officer informs him he is being evicted from the premises, Plaintiff says that there is an appeal on file and that he has sent notices to everyone. Defendant Darren Miles[3] approaches and informs Plaintiff, “You have this instance only to leave this residence on your own free will or you will be arrested.” Plaintiff states he will leave if he can get his clothes, and after not being allowed to do so, Plaintiff says, “Well, then, you do have to arrest me, ” and walks down the stairs. Defendant Miles then says, “Arrest him.” Defendant Jack McCaskill[4] immediately handcuffs Plaintiff behind his back, and Plaintiff is placed in the back seat of a patrol vehicle. Before being put into the vehicle, Plaintiff says, “Hey, you're violating my rights going in that home, ” repeatedly yells, “Breach of the peace” and “Help, ” and states, “I'm in fear for my life.”

         Approximately three minutes later, Defendants Jack McCaskill and Jonathan Edwards remove Plaintiff from the vehicle, place him in the back seat of another patrol vehicle, and secure the seatbelt. Plaintiff is then transported to jail by Defendants Edwards and Dale Sylvester.

         During the ride to jail, which lasts approximately fifteen minutes, Plaintiff is still handcuffed with his hands behind his back. Soon after being placed in the back seat, he moves his left hand to his left hip while his right hand remains behind his back. He frequently moves around on the seat by leaning forward and adjusting his arms, opens and closes his left hand, bows his head and shakes several times, and makes the following statements:

• “Sir, I can't feel the circulation in my hands. I'm a diabetic with high blood pressure, sir. Losing circulation in my hands. My hands feel numb.”
• “Sir, I'm a diabetic with high blood pressure. This thing is cutting off my circulation. And I've been diagnosed with COPD.”

         Plaintiff says, “Sir, ” several other times. Neither Defendant Edwards nor Defendant Sylvester responds to Plaintiff's statements, and he ...


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