Abrar Omeish v. Stacey Kincaid, No. 22-1826 (4th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff resisted arrest during a traffic stop, and Officer Patrick deployed a burst of pepper spray to her forehead. Further, Sheriff S. Kincaid’s officers required Plaintiff to remove her hijab for the purpose of taking booking photographs. Plaintiff claimed that Officer Patrick used excessive force in arresting her and that Sheriff Kincaid was liable for her office’s policy that disregarded Plaintiff’s religious beliefs in violation of the First Amendment and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000. The district court dismissed Plaintiff’s claim against Officer Patrick on the basis of qualified immunity, but it granted Plaintiff a permanent injunction, requiring Sheriff Kincaid to destroy all copies of the booking photographs of Plaintiff without her hijab. Sheriff Kincaid filed an appeal seeking to reverse the district court’s order, and Plaintiff filed an appeal from the district court’s order denying her motion for attorneys fees.
As to Sheriff Kincaid’s appeal, the court dismissed it as moot and remanded with instructions to vacate the district court’s judgment. As to Plaintiff’s appeal of the dismissal of her claim against Officer Patrick, the court affirmed. And as to Plaintiff’s appeal of the district court’s order denying her motion for attorneys fees, the court vacated and remanded. The court explained that under Section 1988(b), a prevailing party should ordinarily be awarded reasonable attorneys fees unless special circumstances would render them unjust, whereas under Rule 54(d)(1), a prevailing party is presumed to be entitled to an award of costs unless the court finds an element of injustice in doing so. By addressing Plaintiff’s motion under the incorrect legal standard, the district court erred.