Van Schaick v. United States, Civ. A. No. 82-2263-15.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtJohn B. Grimball, Asst. U.S. Atty., Columbia, S.C., for defendant
Citation586 F. Supp. 1023
PartiesOtto E. VAN SCHAICK, Plaintiff, v. UNITED STATES of America, Defendant.
Decision Date22 November 1983
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 82-2263-15.

586 F. Supp. 1023

Otto E. VAN SCHAICK, Plaintiff,
UNITED STATES of America, Defendant.

Civ. A. No. 82-2263-15.

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

November 22, 1983.

586 F. Supp. 1024

J. Leeds Barroll, IV, Columbia, S.C., for plaintiff.

John B. Grimball, Asst. U.S. Atty., Columbia, S.C., for defendant.


HAMILTON, District Judge.

This is an action against the United States of America pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346(b) and 2671-2680, and the Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States. This action arises out of the arrest and confinement of the plaintiff during the period May 20-29, 1980.1 The plaintiff contends that actions by or on behalf of the United States of America caused him to be falsely imprisoned, deprived him of his liberty without due process in violation of the Fifth Amendment, violated his rights (1) to reasonable bail under the Eighth Amendment and (2) his right to be informed of the nature and causes of the charges against him under the Sixth Amendment.2

The case came on for trial before the court sitting without a jury on October 12, 1983. At the conclusion (October 13, 1983) of the cases as presented by plaintiff and defendant, the court, pursuant to Rule 614 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, directed that additional witnesses be called for interrogation by the court concerning their knowledge of certain issues in dispute. The trial was resumed and completed on November 7, 1983.

After hearing and receiving the evidence, reviewing the exhibits and briefs of counsel, and studying the applicable law, this court makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law with its order. Rule 52, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. To the extent that any findings of fact constitute conclusions of law, they are adopted as such; to the extent any conclusions of law constitute findings of fact, they are so adopted.


1. The plaintiff, Otto E. Van Schaick, is a 69 year old free lance charter pilot and instructor working out of Eustes, Florida.

586 F. Supp. 1025
The plaintiff served as an aviator both for the Air Force (1936-1939) and then for the Navy (1942-1946 and 1951-1957). From 1960 until 1974, when he retired, the Martin-Marietta Corporation employed the plaintiff as an inspector. Plaintiff has been self-employed since then and, in May, 1980, was a free lance pilot, instructor, and instrument pilot

2. Aviation Biz hired plaintiff to fly a charter from Gainesville, Florida, to Greensboro, North Carolina, on May 20, 1980. The plaintiff accepted the charter and on May 20, 1980, picked up the airplane,3 which was owned by Lake Aviation, Inc., and leased by Aviation Biz. The Plaintiff, with the five year old daughter4 of his girl friend Joan L. Corley, first flew from Eustes, Florida, to the airport at Gainesville, Florida. He then flew to a small airport west of Gainesville where he filled the plane's tanks with fuel and met his four adult passengers. Plaintiff proceeded toward Greensboro with the four passengers. A line of thunderstorms forced them to land in Florence, South Carolina, that afternoon.

3. Plaintiff was not aware that the four adult passengers were attempting to smuggle one hundred thousand (100,000) quaaludes into North Carolina for a prearranged sale. The plaintiff did not know either the purposes of the trip or the nature of the contents of the passengers' luggage. The smugglers did not know that S. Chevez, the person to whom they were going to sell the drugs, had been arrested by agents of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (NCSBI) on May 17, 1980. Chevez, in cooperation with and under the direction of DEA Agent Odis Rousseau and NCSBI Agent Robert H. Clark, arranged for the drug transaction in Greensboro.

4. After the plane had been forced to land in Florence, the four smugglers, using the plaintiff's credit card, rented a car at the airport. The smugglers unloaded from the plane four suitcases containing the quaaludes. After the plaintiff serviced the plane and secured it for the night, he left the airport with the four smugglers. They dropped him off at the Holiday Inn (now a Quality Inn) in downtown Florence. The smugglers then drove to Greensboro and, as previously arranged, "sold" the quaaludes to Agents Rousseau and Clark. The agents promptly arrested them on charges of conspiracy to distribute and distribution of a Schedule II Controlled Substance. 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846.

5. As the smugglers were driving to Greensboro, DEA Agent Odis Rousseau contacted Deputy Wayne Howard in Florence, South Carolina. Howard is and was at that time a deputy sheriff for Florence County, South Carolina. Agent Rousseau asked him to locate both the plane and the pilot and find out the pilot's identification. Howard called Officer Jerry C. Michell, a Florence City Policeman, and asked him to meet him at the airport. Through their investigation they located the plane and discovered that the pilot was Otto E. Van Schaick, the plaintiff herein. The officers also determined that the plaintiff was at the Holiday Inn in downtown Florence. Deputy Howard relayed this information to DEA Agent Rousseau who in turn relayed the information to David Smith, the Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) for the Middle District of North Carolina, who was coordinating the joint federal-state drug task force.

6. AUSA Smith, DEA Agent Rousseau and NCSBI Agent Clark, under the circumstances, justifiably suspected that the plaintiff was a member of the drug conspiracy along with the four smugglers arrested earlier in the day in Greensboro. They

586 F. Supp. 1026
were concerned that plaintiff, upon learning of the arrest of his passengers, would promptly flee. To avoid his fleeing, it was decided to authorize his arrest by Deputy Howard and Officer Michell, who agreed to make the arrest only after receiving written authorization from these federal officials. AUSA Smith, who had the ultimate authority to authorize the arrest, decided that the plaintiff should be arrested and authorized the following telex
PD Florence SC
ATT: Wayne Howard or Jerry Michle This is your authority to arrest and take into custody the following subject: Otto Van Schaick W/M. Home Add/1805 E. Orange Ave., Eustes, Fla. (Address not confirmed) Subject is currently staying at the Holiday Inn, your city. It is also requested that you seize the following aircraft: Piper Aztec Twin Engine Tail Number N6410Y. This aircraft will be parked at a private airstrip in Florence, S.C. Please do not search or disturb the above aircraft in any manner. The aircraft will be processed for fingerprints by DEA. Please maintain custody of the aircraft from seizure until agents from DEA, Columbia, SC arrive at your location. Request is made due to violations of the following statutes: Title 21 USC 846, Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance. DEA Case Nbr/GE 80-0007 SBI Case Nbr/144-M-17-172 (SEU) Auth/Assistant U.S. Attorney David Smith, U.S. Att. Office, Middle District, Greensboro, N.C. (emphasis added).

7. In authorizing the arrest of plaintiff, AUSA Smith and DEA Agent Rousseau contemplated that plaintiff would be arrested pursuant to the authorization contained in the telex. The telex was authority to Deputy Howard and Officer Michell to arrest plaintiff for the federal authorities. It was further contemplated by AUSA Smith and DEA Agent Rousseau that plaintiff would be arrested on "convenience" charges and held until federal charges could be filed and served on plaintiff, at which time any state charges would be dismissed or dropped in favor of prosecution by the United States. The sole purpose of the "convenience" state charges was to get the plaintiff in custody pending the filing of federal charges against him.

8. Deputy Howard and Officer Michell arrested plaintiff on the evening of May 20, 1980, at his motel in Florence pursuant to the authority conferred on them by the telex. They would not have arrested plaintiff without the authority conferred on them by the telex. In making the arrest without a warrant the officers were acting on behalf of the United States Government. As arresting officers, neither Deputy Howard nor Officer Michell intended that any state or local charges would be preferred against plaintiff. Upon arresting plaintiff pursuant to the authority of the telex and booking him on May 20, 1980, at the Florence County Detention Center (Detention Center), Deputy Howard and Officer Michell considered their involvement with the plaintiff to have ended. They considered plaintiff charged with offenses against the United States and that federal agents would handle subsequent proceedings against plaintiff.

9. By authorizing the arrest of plaintiff pursuant to the authority conferred on Deputy Howard and Officer Michell in the telex, AUSA Smith and DEA Agent Rousseau vested Deputy Howard and Officer Michell with the power and authority to act for the United States as United States law enforcement officers.

10. Plaintiff was arrested by Deputy Howard and Officer Michell for the United States, specifically for DEA Agent Rousseau, for an alleged violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. No state charges were ever filed against plaintiff. Solely from the independent investigation of Deputy Howard and Officer Michell there was no probable cause for arresting plaintiff for any state offenses. However, based on the information supplied to Deputy Howard and Officer Michell by DEA Agent Rousseau, probable cause would have existed for the arrest of plaintiff on state charges similar to 21 U.S.C. § 846.

586 F. Supp. 1027

11. At the Holiday Inn, after Deputy Howard and Officer Michell arrested the plaintiff, they read to him the telex to explain why they were arresting him. These county and city officers had no other basis for arresting the plaintiff.

12. The two...

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6 cases
  • Valdez v. United States, Case No. 1:12–CV–381.
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