Cox v. Duke Energy, No. 16-6625 (4th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
After plaintiff was arrested for flying his glider plane over a nuclear plant, he filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that defendants had violated his civil rights under color of state law, denying him the "freedom of movement, freedom from arrest and detention, and freedom to conduct a lawful activity," in violation of the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiff also alleged state law claims of false imprisonment, false arrest, negligence, and civil conspiracy. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment, holding that the district court did not err in determining that the release-dismissal agreement was enforceable and thus plaintiff waived his right to sue the Darlington County Sheriff's Office, the Sheriff, and the deputies; that Duke Energy and its vice president were private actors not operating "under color of" state law as required for liability under section 1983; and plaintiff's state law claims were preempted by federal law's exclusive regulation of nuclear safety.