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Case Name Kenny v. Wilson CJ-SC-0001
Docket / Court 2:16-cv-02794-CWH ( D.S.C. )
State/Territory South Carolina
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Education
Special Collection DOJ Civil Rights Division Statements of Interest
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
On August 11, 2016, the non-profit, Girls Rock, and four students of South Carolina public schools, filed this lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina. The plaintiffs sued the Attorney General of South Carolina and the heads of twelve South Carolina Police Departments ... read more >
On August 11, 2016, the non-profit, Girls Rock, and four students of South Carolina public schools, filed this lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina. The plaintiffs sued the Attorney General of South Carolina and the heads of twelve South Carolina Police Departments under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiffs, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, asked the court for a declaratory judgement that two South Carolina codes, commonly referred to as the "Disturbing Schools" statute and the “Disorderly Conduct” statute violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. They further asked for injunctive relief enjoining the defendants from enforcing the statutes. The plaintiffs claimed that the statutes set an impossible standard for students to follow and made it next to impossible for students to speak out against mistreatment or unfair punishment. The plaintiffs also claimed that the statutes violated due process because they were unjustifiably vague. Further, the plaintiffs pointed to evidence that the statutes disproportionately affected black students.

One named plaintiff, a nineteen-year-old African American girl, was a former student of a South Carolina public school. While in math class one day, she and other students watched as a School Resource Officer flipped a classmate onto the floor in her desk, yanked her from the overturned desk, dragged her across the floor, and handcuffed her. (She had been caught texting in class and refused to leave her seat.) The plaintiff called out for someone to stop the violence and began documenting the event; she was then herself arrested under the Disturbing Schools statute and held in an adult detention center for several hours.

With the complaint, the plaintiffs also filed a motion to certify class and a motion for a preliminary injunction.

On December 8, 2016, U.S. District Judge C. Weston Houck held a hearing on the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction, the defendants’ motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim and lack of jurisdiction, and on the defendants’ motion to strike class action certification. On March 3, 2017, the court granted the motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. On March 20, 2017, the defendants moved for attorneys’ fees.

The plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal to the Fourth Circuit on this order to dismiss on March 22, 2017. Shortly after, the district court granted a motion to stay proceedings on the defendants’ fees and expenses motion pending resolution of the appeal.

On April 6, 2018, the Fourth Circuit overturned the dismissal, finding the plaintiffs’ allegations sufficient to allege injury in fact. 885 F.3d 280. The court held that students faced a credible threat of future arrest or prosecution under the challenged laws, and so the Fourth Circuit vacated and remanded the decision of the district court. The case was reassigned to Judge Margaret B. Seymour. The defendants again moved to dismiss the complaints.

The plaintiffs and the police department defendants entered into a consent agreement to stay proceedings on May 15, 2018, recognizing that a bill in the South Carolina Legislature, if passed, would make changes to the current Disturbing Schools law. The police department defendants withdrew all pending renewed motions to dismiss and objections to the plaintiffs’ class certification, and the plaintiffs agreed to dismiss all claims against the police department defendants with prejudice upon a final judgment on claims against the remaining defendants. The plaintiffs further agreed to seek attorneys’ fees and costs from the other defendants should the plaintiffs prevail in the litigation, and the police department defendants agreed to not seek fees from the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs continued to pursue claims against the Attorney General of South Carolina. They filed an amended complaint on May 16, 2019, adding another individual plaintiff. In addition, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction as well as a motion to dismiss or strike class action allegations on June 6, 2019. The court denied the defendants’ motions to dismiss on March 30, 2020. The court reasoned, among other things, that although one of the plaintiffs was no longer in school, her claims, being of a transitory nature, were not moot. In addition, the court found that as no pleadings had made clear that the class in this matter cannot be certified, it would be premature to rule on the validity of the class allegations at this time.

As of August 2020, this case is ongoing.

Gabriela Hybel - 02/12/2017
Erica Becker - 03/20/2019
Bogyung Lim - 08/11/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
Discrimination-basis
Age discrimination
Race discrimination
General
Disciplinary procedures
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
Excessive force
Grievance Procedures
Juveniles
Over/Unlawful Detention
Placement in detention facilities
Racial profiling
National Origin/Ethnicity
Hispanic
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Race
Black
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Attorney General of South Carolina
Police Departments of South Carolina
Plaintiff Description A nonprofit organization and four students of South Carolina public schools.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Pending
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 08/11/2016
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Kenny v. Wilson
aclu.org
Date: Mar. 16, 2017
By: American Civil Liberties Union
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
2:16-cv-2794 (D.S.C.)
CJ-SC-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/05/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
CJ-SC-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/11/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Statement of Interest of the United States [ECF# 86]
CJ-SC-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/28/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 91] (D.S.C.)
CJ-SC-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/03/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
USCA Opinion [Ct. of App. ECF# 102]
CJ-SC-0001-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/15/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Consent Order [ECF# 131] (D.S.C.)
CJ-SC-0001-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/15/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint [ECF# 157]
CJ-SC-0001-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/16/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Diaz, Albert (Fourth Circuit) show/hide docs
CJ-SC-0001-0004
Duncan, Allyson Kay (Fourth Circuit) show/hide docs
CJ-SC-0001-0004
Houck, Charles Weston (D.S.C.) show/hide docs
CJ-SC-0001-0003
Seymour, Margaret B. (D.S.C.) show/hide docs
CJ-SC-0001-0005 | CJ-SC-0001-9000
Xinis, Paula (D. Md.) show/hide docs
CJ-SC-0001-0004
Plaintiff's Lawyers Dunn, Susan K. (South Carolina) show/hide docs
CJ-SC-0001-0002 | CJ-SC-0001-0006 | CJ-SC-0001-9000
Hinger, Sarah (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-SC-0001-0002 | CJ-SC-0001-0006 | CJ-SC-0001-9000
Lapidus, Lenora M. (New Jersey) show/hide docs
CJ-SC-0001-0002
Lapidus, Lenora M. (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-SC-0001-0006 | CJ-SC-0001-9000
Parker, Dennis D. (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-SC-0001-0002 | CJ-SC-0001-9000
Roth, Emma Jane (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-SC-0001-0006 | CJ-SC-0001-9000
Sherwin, Galen (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-SC-0001-0002 | CJ-SC-0001-0006 | CJ-SC-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Coler, Robert P. (South Carolina) show/hide docs
CJ-SC-0001-9000
Culbreath, Anne R. (South Carolina) show/hide docs
CJ-SC-0001-9000
Garfield, Robert David (South Carolina) show/hide docs
CJ-SC-0001-9000
Hemlepp, William Michael Jr. (South Carolina) show/hide docs
CJ-SC-0001-9000
Jackson, Robin Lilley (South Carolina) show/hide docs
CJ-SC-0001-9000
Lindemann, Andrew F. (South Carolina) show/hide docs
CJ-SC-0001-9000
Pitts, Michael Stuart (South Carolina) show/hide docs
CJ-SC-0001-9000
Senn, Sandra Jane (South Carolina) show/hide docs
CJ-SC-0001-9000
Smith, James Emory Jr. (South Carolina) show/hide docs
CJ-SC-0001-9000
Spreeuwers, Steven Richard (South Carolina) show/hide docs
CJ-SC-0001-9000
Thye, Dana Marie (South Carolina) show/hide docs
CJ-SC-0001-9000
Wells, Logan McCombs (South Carolina) show/hide docs
CJ-SC-0001-9000
Other Lawyers Bains, Chiraag (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-SC-0001-0001
Drake, Beth (South Carolina) show/hide docs
CJ-SC-0001-0001
Fox, Deena (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-SC-0001-0001
Gupta, Vanita (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-SC-0001-0001
Jackson, Shelley (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-SC-0001-0001
Moossy, Robert J. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-SC-0001-0001
Rosenbaum, Steven H. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-SC-0001-0001
Savitsky, Zoe M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-SC-0001-0001
Sneed, Robert (South Carolina) show/hide docs
CJ-SC-0001-0001 | CJ-SC-0001-9000 | CJ-SC-0001-9000

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