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Civil Rights – Excessive Force – Deputy Sheriff – Sheriff & Detention Center

Civil Rights – Excessive Force – Deputy Sheriff – Sheriff & Detention Center

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Shelley v. County of Kershaw  (Lawyers Weekly No. 002-118-13, 14 pp.) (Cameron McGowan Currie, J.) 3:11-cv-03477; D.S.C.

Holding: The parties’ arguments assume that the defendant-county’s detention center had a policy of non-intervention: detention center officers may not exit the intake area of the detention center and intervene in an altercation between a deputy sheriff and a detainee. However, there is no evidence that, prior to the handcuffed plaintiff’s beating by a deputy sheriff in the detention center’s sally port, there were any incidents of any unconstitutional use of force by sheriff’s deputies against arrestees in the sally port which would have resulted in notice to the county, prior to this incident, that a policy of non-interference would result in constitutional violations.

Defendants’ motion for summary judgment is granted.

The deputy who beat and injured plaintiff was fired, was convicted of use of excessive force while acting under color of state law, and is serving a 63-month sentence in the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

Where defendant Matthews did not become Sheriff of Kershaw County until well after this incident, he is entitled to summary judgment.

To the extent defendant McCaskill is being sued in his official capacity, he is immune from suit because he is treated as an arm of the state.

A federal court lacks jurisdiction to hear a cause of action against an S.C. sheriff’s department, as such a suit is barred by the state’s Eleventh Amendment immunity.

Where plaintiff has had sufficient time to identify all defendants in this action yet has failed to specifically serve or identify any John Doe defendants, defendants “Certain Unnamed Officers and Employees of Kershaw County” are dismissed without prejudice.

Under no scenario can the county be responsible under a theory of bystander liability, as such would involve an imposition of liability based on the municipality’s employment of a tortfeasor.


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