University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Carson v. Heigel PB-SC-0005
Docket / Court 3:16-cv-00045-MGL ( D.S.C. )
State/Territory South Carolina
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Special Collection Same-Sex Marriage
Attorney Organization Lambda Legal
Case Summary
The Plaintiffs, same-sex parents filing on behalf of their minor twins, filed this lawsuit in the District Court of South Carolina (Columbia Division) on January 7, 2016. The Plaintiffs sued the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control/State Registrar of Vital Statistics under 4 ... read more >
The Plaintiffs, same-sex parents filing on behalf of their minor twins, filed this lawsuit in the District Court of South Carolina (Columbia Division) on January 7, 2016. The Plaintiffs sued the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control/State Registrar of Vital Statistics under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Plaintiffs, represented by Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc., sought declaratory and injunctive relief, claiming violations of Obergefell v. Hodges (PB-OH-0003)and other binding precedent, as well as violation of their fundamental right to marry and other protected liberties. The Plaintiffs alleged that Defendant’s refusal to treat same-sex spouses the same as opposite-sex spouses in the issuance of birth certificates is a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Plaintiffs further allege that the Defendant’s refusal to name both Plaintiffs on their twins’ birth certificates discriminates on the basis of sex and sexual orientation.

The Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on May 31, 2016. They alleged that there was no dispute between the parties as to material fact and that the Defendants failed to contest the Plaintiffs’ constitutional arguments or right to declaratory relief judgment. The Court agreed, and on February 15, 2017, District Judge Mary G. Lewis granted Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment and request for declaratory judgment. 2017 WL 624803.

On February 28, 2017, Judge Lewis entered a Consent Decree ordering the Defendant to (1) apply all rules, procedures, policies and practices relating to the issuance of birth certificates to same-sex spouses on the same terms as it applies them to different-sex spouses, (2) to list the birth mother on the original birth record as the “Mother” of a child born in South Carolina, (3) to list the spouse of the birth mother on the birth record as the other parent of the child (excluding instances of surrogate births), (4) to issue two-parent birth certificates to married same-sex parents on the same terms that two-parent certificates are provided to different-sex married parents, (5) to modify its existing vital records system to allow updates to its systems and forms so that the first parent is listed as “Mother/parent,” and the second parent as “Father/parent,” (6) to institute updates to allow the Mother’s Worksheet for Child’s Birth Certificate completed at hospitals to be recorded in a gender-neutral fashion, (7) to issue corrected birth certificates to the Plaintiff’s mailing address, (8) to make available to the public a statement listing these new policies and procedures, (9) and to allow any individuals who meet the requirements listed in this public statement but were previously denied issuance of a birth certificate listing both same-sex spouses as parents to obtain a corrected birth certificate for free. Furthermore, the court maintained jurisdiction of the case for purposes of monitoring compliance with and enforcing the Consent Decree, and allowed the Plaintiff’s to submit a motion for attorney’s fees and costs pursuant to federal and local rules.

The Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Attorney’s Fees on April 14, 2017, requesting approximately $49,000, but subsequently withdrew that motion on June 15, 2017 in light of an agreed upon undisclosed settlement between the parties, thus closing the case.

Robert Carnes - 10/13/2017

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Required disclosure
Hospital/Health Department
Sex discrimination
Sexual orientatation
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) State of South Carolina
State of South Carolina
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs are same-sex parents who desired to have both of their names listed on the birth records of twins.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Lambda Legal
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Declaratory Judgment
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Filing Year 2016
Case Ongoing Yes
3:16-cv-45 (D.S.C.)
PB-SC-0005-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/17/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PB-SC-0005-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/07/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint For Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 12]
PB-SC-0005-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/27/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order Granting Plaintiffs' Motion For Summary Judgment on the Merits and For Declaratory Judgment and Rendering As Moot Plaintiffs' Request For Injunctive Relief [ECF# 36] (2017 WL 624803) (D.S.C.)
PB-SC-0005-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 02/15/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Consent Decree [ECF# 37] (D.S.C.)
PB-SC-0005-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/28/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Lewis, Mary Geiger (D.S.D., D.S.C.)
PB-SC-0005-0003 | PB-SC-0005-0004 | PB-SC-0005-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Borelli, Tara L. (Georgia)
PB-SC-0005-0001 | PB-SC-0005-0002 | PB-SC-0005-0004 | PB-SC-0005-9000
Condon, Colleen Therese (South Carolina)
PB-SC-0005-0002 | PB-SC-0005-0004 | PB-SC-0005-9000
Custer, William V (Georgia)
PB-SC-0005-0001 | PB-SC-0005-0002 | PB-SC-0005-0004 | PB-SC-0005-9000
Dempsey, Jennifer Burch (Georgia)
PB-SC-0005-0001 | PB-SC-0005-0002 | PB-SC-0005-0004 | PB-SC-0005-9000
Finney, Jerry Leo (South Carolina)
PB-SC-0005-0001 | PB-SC-0005-0002 | PB-SC-0005-0004 | PB-SC-0005-9000
Lantta, Luke A (Georgia)
PB-SC-0005-0001 | PB-SC-0005-0002 | PB-SC-0005-0004 | PB-SC-0005-9000
Sommer, Susan (New York)
PB-SC-0005-0001 | PB-SC-0005-0002 | PB-SC-0005-0004 | PB-SC-0005-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Harleston, John (South Carolina)
Lord, William Leighton (South Carolina)
Mergo, Nikole Setzler (South Carolina)

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