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Civil Rights

Aug 16, 2023

Civil Rights – FOIA Request – Charitable Organization – State Involvement – Private Schools – Exceptional Children

The South Carolina Educational Credit for Exceptional Needs Children Fund was set up by the General Assembly, and our Department of Revenue is minimally involved in operating the Fund. However, the money in the Fund comes from private sources and is distributed as scholarships for children with exceptional needs. The Fund is not a public […]

Jun 29, 2023

Civil Rights – Civil Practice – Statute of Limitations – General vs. Specific Statute

In a case arising out of a school resource officer’s sexual relationship with the plaintiff-student, S.C. Code Ann. § 15-3-555 would have set the statute of limitations at six years after plaintiff turned 21. However, plaintiff brought her claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and the limitation period for such a claim is borrowed from […]

Jun 21, 2023

Civil Rights – University Student Expulsion – Sexual Harassment Claim – Procedural Due Process

Plaintiff was expelled from defendant The Citadel for alleged sexual misconduct against a female cadet, “Roe.” Even if The Citadel’s treatment of plaintiff in the Title IX process was improper, he did not allege facts demonstrating that his sex was the but-for cause of any mistreatment. Plaintiff contends that The Citadel displayed a so-called “‘Believe […]

Jun 2, 2023

Civil Rights – Insurance – Covenants Not to Execute – Prisons & Jails

Although an Insurance Reserve Fund (IRF) policy and S.C. Code Ann. § 1-11-460 functioned to indemnify the defendant-corrections officers for the amounts they were liable to pay pursuant to a judgment for plaintiff, since plaintiff released the defendants from all liability, the IRF and the State Fiscal Accountability Authority were likewise no longer able to […]

Mar 13, 2023

Civil Rights – Domestic Violence Arrest – Probable Cause – ‘Omitted’ Facts

On his last shift before a day off, the defendant-police officer responded to a domestic disturbance call, took statements from both participants, was unable to determine who was the primary aggressor, submitted his warrant applications and incident report to the magistrate’s office, and asked a fellow officer to present his findings to a magistrate the […]

Feb 22, 2023

Civil Rights – Adoption – Abusive Parents – Private Agency – Delegation of State Duty

Where the State of Ohio terminated the parental rights of then four-year-old plaintiff’s biological parents, the state took on an affirmative constitutional duty not to make a foster placement that was deliberately indifferent to plaintiff’s right to personal safety and security. When the state contracted with the defendant-private adoption agency to place plaintiff, the state’s […]

Oct 12, 2022

Civil Rights – Search & Seizure – Arrest Warrant – Probable Cause – Security Footage 

At the time Officer Scott Hill sought a warrant for defendant’s arrest, Hill knew that tobacco products were kept behind the counter of a convenience store. When watching the store’s security footage, Hill saw the perpetrator climb over the counter to steal tobacco products. While police were on the scene, the store manager discovered and […]

Jul 29, 2022

Civil Rights – False Arrest – Probable Cause – Child Abuse – Acquittal 

Although plaintiff was eventually acquitted on charges that he had abused eight-week-old E.W., his only complaints about statements in the affidavit supporting the warrant for his arrest are directed at statements that his “admissions are consistent with the injuries reported by the examining medical personnel” and that, when he threw the baby, E.W.’s mother “heard […]

Jun 20, 2022

Civil Rights – Assault & Battery Arrest – Probable Cause – Conflicting Stories

Even though the arresting officer knew of the complainant’s history of aggression towards the plaintiff’s decedent, the statements of the complainant and her son gave the officer probable cause to arrest the decedent for assault and battery after her altercation with the complainant. We affirm summary judgment for the officer on plaintiff’s federal claims. However, […]

Mar 24, 2022

Civil Rights – Student’s First Amendment suit reinstated

Where a high school student alleged that he was suspended after expressing non-threatening factual views about a school shooting in Florida, the district court erred in dismissing his First Amendment claim. Schools cannot silence such student speech simply because it communicates controversial or upsetting ideas. Background Jonathan Starbuck brought this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action […]

Mar 10, 2022

Civil Rights – Setting aside of jury verdict was error

Where the district court lacked insight into why the jury deadlocked on an excessive force claim brought by a detainee against a prison official, but awarded the detainee damages for his retaliation claim, it erred by assuming the two decisions were in conflict and ordering a new trial. Background Jason R. Jordan, a detainee in […]

Feb 11, 2022

Civil Rights – Jury to decide if fatal shooting was warranted

Where there were disputed facts over whether the decedent’s conduct provided justification for a state trooper to fire fatal shots, including that the officer claimed the man turned toward him while raising his hands, but the decedent was shot in the back, the officer wasn’t entitled to qualified immunity on summary judgment. Background Spencer Lee […]

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