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Dyson v. Le'chris Health System, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Eastern Division

January 9, 2015

ANNIE BATTLE DYSON and AARON PURNELL DYSON, Plaintiffs,
v.
LE'CHRIS HEALTH SYSTEM, INCORPORATED, EDGECOMBE, COUNTY GOVERNMENT, LEONARD WIGGINS, Chairman, County Manager, Defendants.

ORDER

TERRENCE W. BOYLE, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on defendants Le'Chris Health System, Incorporated and Edgecombe County Government's respective motions for summary judgment. [DE 43, 45]. Plaintiffs have responded and the matter is now ripe for adjudication. [DE 51]. For the following reasons, both motions for summary judgment are GRANTED.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs, Annie Battle Dyson and Aaron Purnell Dyson, brought this action against Le'Chris Health System Incorporated ("Le'Chris Health"), Edgecombe County Government ("Edgecombe County"), Leonard Wiggins, and Lorenzo Carmon, alleging various state and federal constitutional violations, as well as state law claims, and invoking the Court's federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Plaintiffs seek $105, 500, 000 in compensatory and punitive damages from Le'Chris Health and $55, 000, 000 in compensatory and punitive damages from Edgecombe County, as well as injunctive relief.

The complaint arises from the alleged numerous violations of plaintiffs' civil rights when an adult protective services worker, Ms. Shawn Watson, with the Edgecombe County Department of Social Services ("DSS"), entered the home plaintiffs shared with a family member, Ricky W. Battle. Ms. Watson entered the home to investigate a claim by Le'Chris Adult Day Care of Rocky Mount ("Le'Chris Day Care"), via its employees Nicki Bradberry, Beverlyn Richardson, and Faye Hill, that Mr. Battle was the victim of abuse by Aaron Dyson. Both the Rocky Mount Police department and DSS investigated Mr. Battle's claim, but no charges were filed against Mr. Dyson.

On January 24, 2014, the Court entered an order adopting Magistrate Judge Jones's Memorandum and Recommendation [DE 8], thereby dismissing defel;ldants Wiggins and Carmon, all claims brought by plaintiffs on behalf of Ricky Battle, and all claims based on violations of Battle's rights. [DE 21]. The remaining claims against Le'Chris Health are 1) a violation of the Sixth Amendment (Count 3); malicious prosecution (Count 7); deprivation of rights per 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count 9); intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count 11); libel per se (Count 14); and invasion of privacy (Count 19). The remaining claims against Edgecombe County are 1) a violation of the Fourth Amendment (Count 1); a violation of the Fifth Amendment (Count 2); a violation of the Sixth Amendment (Count 3); a violation of the Eighth Amendment (Count 4); a violation of the Ninth Amendment (Count 5); a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment (Count 6); malicious prosecution (Count 7); intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count 11); claims brought directly under the North Carolina Constitution (Count 12); libel per se (Count 14); negligence (Count 15); and invasion of privacy (Count 19).

Each defendant has filed a motion for summary judgment as to all claims.

DISCUSSION

Summary judgment is proper only when, viewing the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, there is no genuine issue of material fact, and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter oflaw. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56; Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Cox v. Cnty. ofPrince William, 249 F.3d 295, 299 (4th Cir. 2001). The moving party must demonstrate the lack of genuine issue of fact for trial and if that burden is met, the party opposing the motion must "go beyond the pleadings" and come forward with evidence of a genuine factual dispute. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists for trial, a trial court views the evidence and the inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007). An issue is "genuine" if a reasonable jury, based on the evidence, could find in favor of the non-moving party.); Cox, 249 F.3d at 299. Conclusory allegations are insufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment. Anderson v. LibertyLobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) ("[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment").

CLAIMS AGAINST LE'CHRIS HEALTH

Plaintiffs have sued Le'Chris Health based on actions committed by Ms. Bradberry when she allegedly improperly reported Mr. Battle's accusations against Mr. Dyson to the Rocky Mount Police Department and Edgecombe County Department of Social Services. Ms. Bradberry is employed by Le'Chris Day Care, not Le'Chris Health. Le'Chris Health's evidence demonstrates that Le'Chris Day Care is an entirely different company from Le'Chris Health, and Le'Chris Health did not own, operate, or manage Le'Chris Day Care, nor did Le'Chris Health ever provide any services to Mr. Battle. Plaintiffs have not put forth any evidence that shows Le'Chris Health has any connection to their claims. Accordingly, there is no issue of material fact as to Le'Chris Health's non-involvement in this case, and its motion for summary judgment is granted.

CLAIMS AGAINST EDGECOMBE COUNTY

I. SECTION 1983 CLAIMS

Section 1983 imposes liability on anyone who under color of state law "subjects... any citizen... or other person... to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution...." 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiffs allege that their Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendment ...


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