Webb v. Lott, C. A. 3:19-2031-JMC-SVH

CourtUnited States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtShiva V. Hodges, United States Magistrate Judge
Docket NumberC. A. 3:19-2031-JMC-SVH
PartiesSheila Webb, Plaintiff, v. Lean Lott, in his capacity as Sheriff of the Richland County Sheriff's Department, and Cameron Duecker, Defendants.
Decision Date16 December 2020

Sheila Webb, Plaintiff,

Lean Lott, in his capacity as Sheriff of the Richland County Sheriff's Department, and Cameron Duecker, Defendants.

C. A. No. 3:19-2031-JMC-SVH

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

December 16, 2020


Shiva V. Hodges, United States Magistrate Judge

Sheila Webb (“Plaintiff”) originally filed this matter in the Court of Common Pleas for Richland County, South Carolina, asserting claims against Leon Lott (“Lott”), in his capacity as Sheriff of the Richland County Sheriff's Department (“RCSD”), and Cameron Duecker (“Duecker”), pursuant to the South Carolina Tort Claims Act, SC Code Ann. § 15-78-70 (“SCTCA”) and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff's complaint concerns Duecker's arrest of her on February 1, 2019, and her subsequent confinement. More specifically, Plaintiff asserts Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment claims for unreasonable seizure and excessive force and state-law claims sounding in negligence and for false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, assault, battery, and malicious prosecution. On July 19, 2019, Lott removed the action to this court.

This matter is before the court on the motions for summary judgment filed by Duecker [ECF No. 34] and Lott [ECF No. 35]. The motions having been fully briefed, including a sur-reply filed by Plaintiff, [ECF Nos. 37, 38, 41, 44, 47], they are ripe for disposition.

All pretrial proceedings in this case were referred to the undersigned pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civ. Rule 73.02(B)(2)(f) (D.S.C.). Because the summary judgment motions are dispositive, this report and recommendation is entered for review by the district judge. For the following reasons, the undersigned recommends denying Duecker's motion and granting in part and denying in part Lott's motion.

I. Factual Background

The parties agree that on the afternoon of February 1, 2019, Duecker was dispatched to 50 Periwinkle Court in Irmo, South Carolina, to respond to a complaint made to 911 by Plaintiff, a 58-year-old female, that her brother, William Gossette (“Gossette”), had unlawfully used their incapacitated mother's vehicle. [ECF No. 34-1 at 25:20-26:12, ECF No. 38-3 at 11:17-24, 37:9-2]. At the time, Plaintiff, Gossette, and Gossette's wife, Rachel Jones (“Jones”) all lived at the residence, and the mother was in the hospital. [ECF No. 38-3 at 10:10-14]. Duecker responded to the complaint in the patrol vehicle that had been issued to him by the RCSD, while wearing his Richland County Sheriff's uniform and the full kit of gear that had been issued to him for patrol purposes. [ECF No. 34-1 at 27:4-7, 27:18-23]. That kit of gear included a sidearm, taser, pepper-OC spray, baton, and two sets of handcuffs. Id. at 28:25.

Based on the body camera evidence, Duecker, through the front door of the residence, spoke first with Jones, informing her that he had been dispatched about “a stolen car” or “something about a car being used without mom's permission, ” to which Jones called inside the house stating “Billy, Sheila done called the police and said you stole the car.” [ECF No. 34-2 at 19:28:00-19:28:40].[1] Both Plaintiff and Gossette approached the front door, while Duecker remained outside on the porch, and Plaintiff repeatedly denied having called 911. See id.[2] Plaintiff then stated to Duecker that “my mother is in ICU, [Gossette] don't have authority . . ., ” and Plaintiff and Gossette entered into a short verbal dispute, with Duecker interjecting. Id. at 19:28:40-19:29:25. Duecker then yelled “here's the deal, ” and Plaintiff became upset, telling Duecker to back up, that she is a soldier, identifying herself as “Colonel Sheila Webb, ” and stating the car “was not registered, . . . there's no insurance on the car.” Id. at 19:29:25-19:29:50.[3] Duecker responded by taking out his handcuffs and informing Plaintiff that the car was legally parked and if there was an issue with permission to use the car, that was between Gossette and the owner of the car. See id. Duecker then told Plaintiff that if she called 911 again, Duecker would take her to jail for unlawful use of 911. Id. at 19:29:50-54.

Plaintiff then became increasingly antagonistic, retreating into the residence, but then returning to the front door, informing Duecker that he would not be arresting her, that she was going to call Sheriff Leon Lott, culminating in telling Duecker that he was not “going to do shit.” Id. at 19:29:54-19:30:58. During this time, Gossette also informed Duecker that Plaintiff had summoned law enforcement to the residence on several occasions and that this had been ongoing for some time. See id. Duecker inquired about the possible initiation of eviction protocols. Id. Plaintiff reappeared, continued to be upset, and then once again retreated into the house. Id.

Duecker then entered the residence stating, “you're going to jail for filing a false police report.” Id. at 19:30:58-19:31:05.[4] Duecker followed Plaintiff into her bedroom, while Plaintiff denied she filed a false police report and slowly tried to move away from Duecker. Id. at 19:31:05-19:31:13. Duecker repeatedly told Plaintiff to come here, not to fight him, and to stop resisting, as he caught Plaintiff's arm and forced it behind her, attempting to put Plaintiff in handcuffs; however, Plaintiff twisted away and climbed into her bed, putting the covers over her. Id. at 19:31:13-19:31:35. Plaintiff and Duecker then wrestled on her bed, with Duecker standing, as Plaintiff attempted to keep Duecker from rolling her over or putting handcuffs on her. Id. at 19:31:3519:33:05.[5] During this time, Plaintiff asked Duecker to leave her alone, stating she was sick, while Duecker repeatedly informed Plaintiff to stop resisting and not scratch him, finally informing Plaintiff that she was under arrest for filing a false police report and assaulting a police officer. See id. Also during this time, Duecker used his radio to summon other officers for assistance and was able to place one handcuff, but not two, on Plaintiff. See id.

Duecker then pulled out his taser, and, over the next three minutes, deployed his taser multiple times, in both “drive stun” and “probe” mode, [6] the latter mode to Plaintiff's chest, while telling Plaintiff to stop resisting and while Plaintiff yelled for her brother. Id. at 19:33:05-19:36:10. Duecker then placed Plaintiff in handcuffs with the assistance one of the other Richland County Deputies who had arrived on the scene following Duecker's use of his taser, including Corporal Fairbanks (“Fairbanks”), Duecker's supervisor, who states upon arrival “that is a seventy year old woman, you tased her, what the fuck, what happened.” [ECF No. 34-2 at 19:36:10-19:38:08, see also, e.g., ECF No. 38-5 at 33:13-16 (“We made it into the house, went to the back room where we heard the struggle and we saw Deputy Duecker standing over Ms. Webb and we assisted in handcuffing Ms. Webb.”)].

According to a report written by Fairbanks:

[Duecker] then relayed the facts of the fight. After we all calmed down we went outside and Deputy Duecker told me he was going to charge her with filing a false police report and assaulting a police officer while resisting arrest. I immediately told him that was not the correct charge due to the civil nature of the call. After talking a few minutes, it was decided by both of us that due to her [demeanor] and level of intoxication, breach of peace would be the more appropriate charge

[ECF No. 38-1 at 78, see also id. at 43:10-44:1 (Duecker testifying that “I knew that there was a charge available for unlawful use of 911, but with consulting my corporal and my lieutenant on the scene and the demeanor of Corporal Fairbanks, we-it was decided to make the charge for breach of peace and assault on a police officer while resisting arrest.”)]. Plaintiff was treated by emergency medical services and transported to Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center. Id. at 42:13-18. Plaintiff's charges were favorably dismissed on or about March 6, 2019. [ECF No. 37-4].

On February 21 or 22, 2019, Duecker was fired from his position with RCSD. [ECF No. 38-1 at 42:6-12]. Following a criminal investigation, Lieutenant Isenhoward (“Isenhoward”) for RCSD charged Duecker with assault and battery, third degree, as a result of Duecker's arrest of Plaintiff. [ECF No. 38-4]. Magistrate Judge Surles issued an arrest warrant for Duecker on February 22, 2020, and the case against Duecker is being prosecuted by Solicitor Byron Gibson. [ECF No. 37-3, ECF No. 35-8 at 95:24-96:18].[7]II. Discussion

A. Standard on Summary Judgment

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 a judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The movant bears the initial burden of demonstrating that summary judgment is appropriate; if the movant carries its burden, then the burden shifts to the non-movant to set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). If a movant asserts that a fact cannot be disputed, it must support that assertion either by “citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials;” or “showing . . . that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1).

In considering a motion for summary judgment, the evidence of the nonmoving party is to be believed and all justifiable inferences must be drawn in favor of the non-moving party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). However, “[o]nly disputes over facts...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT