Brown v. Dennis et al
ORDER AND OPINION accepting the 112 Report and Recommendation, granting the 76 Motion for Summary Judgment of Defendants Sumter County Sheriff Anthony Dennis, Investigator Jennifer Thomas, Thomas R. Mims, Jr., Hampton Ga rdner, Robert Burnish, Jennie Daley, Wesley Gardner, and Willie McFadden, and dismissing Defendants Krystle Skinner, Susan Oaks-Thomas, Edward Francis Brown, and Shenequa Oaks from the action without prejudice. Signed by Honorable J. Michelle Childs on 9/26/2017. (bgoo)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Anthony Dennis, Sumter County Sheriff;
Investigator Jennifer Thomas; Thomas R. )
Mims, Jr.; Hampton Gardner; Robert
Burnish; Jennie Daley; Wesley Gardner;
Susan Oaks-Thomas; Edward Francis
Brown; Willie McFadden; Krystle Skinner; )
and Shenequa Oaks,
Civil Action No.: 3:15-cv-03334-JMC
ORDER AND OPINION
This matter is before the court for review of the Magistrate Judge’s Report and
Recommendation (“Report”) (ECF No. 112), filed February 23, 2017, recommending that the
Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 76) by Defendants Sumter County Sheriff Anthony
Dennis, Investigator Jennifer Thomas, Thomas R. Mims, Jr., Hampton Gardner, Robert Burnish,
Jennie Daley, Wesley Gardner and Willie McFadden (collectively “Defendants”) be granted as
to Plaintiff’s claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, and 1986, as well as all state law
claims, and that Defendant Krystal Skinner be dismissed from the case without prejudice.
Furthermore, the Magistrate Judge notes that Defendants Susan Oaks-Thomas, Edward Francis
Brown, and Shanequa Oaks were never served with process and therefore recommends that they
be dismissed from this action without prejudice.
After considering Plaintiff’s Objections
(“Objections”), filed March 8, 2017 (ECF No. 114), the court ACCEPTS the Magistrate
Judge’s Report (ECF No. 112) and GRANTS Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF
The Magistrate Judge’s Report is made in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and
Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(c) for the District of South Carolina. The Magistrate Judge makes
only a recommendation to the court, which has no presumptive weight. The responsibility to
make a final determination remains with this court. See Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71
(1976). The court reviews de novo only those portions of a magistrate judge’s report and
recommendation to which specific objections are filed, and reviews those portions which are not
objected to – including those portions to which only “general and conclusory” objections have
been made – for clear error. See Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315
(4th Cir. 2005); Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 200 (4th Cir. 1983); Orpiano v. Johnson, 687
F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). The court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the
recommendation of the magistrate judge or recommit the matter with instructions. See 28 U.S.C.
The Report was filed February 23, 2017. (ECF No. 112.) The court concludes, upon its
own review of the record, that the Report’s factual and procedural summation correctly presents
the facts in light of this requirement and adopts this summary as its own. (ECF No. 112 at 2–10.)
Plaintiff timely filed his Objections to the Report on March 9, 2017. (ECF No. 114.)
Plaintiff’s Objections begin with verbatim statements of facts from his Memorandum in
Opposition to Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF Nos. 102, 114.) Thereafter,
Plaintiff follows up with generalized statements of frustration regarding the allegations against
him resulting in his arrest and prosecution and broad statements of the standard for probable
cause and summary judgment, despite the overwhelming undisputed record evidence cited by the
Magistrate Judge in her Report.
Additionally, Plaintiff reargues verbatim several issues
previously presented to the Magistrate Judge (see, e.g., ECF No. 114 at 7—8), yet points to no
specific error by the Magistrate Judge.
The court’s review perceives that Plaintiff made three specific objections to the Report:
1. Plaintiff objects to the Report’s assertion that Investigator Thomas had probable
cause to secure a warrant for Plaintiff’s arrest, given that a SLED forensics report
allegedly determined that another individual murdered the victim. (ECF No. 114
at 3-4, 9-11.)
2. Plaintiff objects to the Report’s assertion that he has failed to provide any facts
which support his §§ 1985 and 1986 claims. (ECF No. 114 at 11.)
3. Plaintiff objects to the Report’s finding that Plaintiff has failed to allege any facts that
show Mims, Hampton Gardner, Burnish, Daley, Wesley Garner, McFadden, and Dennis,
in his individual capacity, were personally involved in any deprivation of Plaintiff’s
rights. (See ECF No. 114 at 8.)
As to Plaintiff’s first objection, Plaintiff claims that the affidavit supporting the warrant
contains a false statement by the affiant but offers no support to challenge this material fact.
(ECF No. 114 at 9–10). Plaintiff further states that there were no witnesses that claimed that he
admitted his involvement in the murder or that such statements were either rumors or never
corroborated. (Id. at 10). However, Plaintiff provides no support for his arguments, just mere
conclusory arguments contrary to the Magistrate Judge’s well-articulated order demonstrating
sufficient probable cause for Plaintiff’s arrest based on a facially valid warrant supported by an
affidavit and testimony by witnesses who claimed that Plaintiff admitted his involved in the
(ECF No. 112 at 15-16).
Plaintiff merely supports his arguments with baseless
allegations of the motives of law enforcement to frame him.
As to Plaintiff’s second objection, Plaintiff cited the general statements of proof for a 42
U.S.C. § 1985 conspiracy claim and alleges that Defendants had a meeting of the minds to
charge and prosecute Plaintiff without any competent evidence. As to Plaintiff’s third objection,
Plaintiff does not note any errors in the Magistrate Judge’s Report. Instead, he merely relays
facts about the investigation that led to his arrest and prosecution.
Each of the arguments supporting Plaintiff’s specific objections was considered by the
The Magistrate Judge was not persuaded by Plaintiff’s arguments and
Plaintiff offers no arguments based on competent evidence as to why the Magistrate Judge was
mistaken in her findings and conclusions. Therefore, after de novo review of Plaintiff’s specific
objections, the court finds that they are without merit and, as a result, overrules Plaintiff’s
After a thorough review of the Report, the court ACCEPTS the Magistrate Judge’s
Report and Recommendation (ECF No. 112) and GRANTS the Motion for Summary Judgment
(ECF No. 76) of Defendants Sumter County Sheriff Anthony Dennis, Investigator Jennifer
Thomas, Thomas R. Mims, Jr., Hampton Gardner, Robert Burnish, Jennie Daley, Wesley
Gardner and Willie McFadden, and dismisses Defendant Krystle Skinner from the case without
prejudice. Because Defendants Susan Oaks-Thomas, Edward Francis Brown, and Shenequa
Oaks were never served with process, the court also dismisses them from this action without
IT IS SO ORDERED.
United States District Judge
September 26, 2017
Columbia, South Carolina
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?