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Blount-Ferguson v. Agape Community Hospice of Pee Dee, Inc.

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division

February 26, 2015

Patsine Blount-Ferguson, Plaintiff,
v.
Agape Community Hospice of the Pee Dee, Inc., Defendant.

ORDER

R. BRYAN HARWELL, District Judge.

Plaintiff Patsine Blount-Ferguson ("Plaintiff") filed this action on July 16, 2013 seeking recovery against her former employer, Defendant Agape Community Hospice of the Pee Dee, Inc. ("Defendant" or "Agape"). See Compl., ECF No. 1. In the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant discriminated against her because of her race in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e), et. seq. See id. at ¶¶ 15-16. She also alleges that Defendant retaliated against her as a result of her complaints to that end. See id.

On May 8, 2014, Defendant filed a motion summary judgment. See Def.'s Mot., ECF No. 31. Plaintiff timely filed a response in opposition to this motion on May 28, 2014, see Pl.'s Resp., ECF No. 37, and Defendant filed a reply in support of its motion on June 9, 2014, see Def.'s Reply, ECF No. 40. The matter is now before the Court after the issuance of the Report and Recommendation ("R & R") of United States Magistrate Thomas E. Rogers, III.[1] See R & R, ECF No. 51. In the R & R, the Magistrate Judge recommends that the Court deny Defendant's motion for summary judgment. See id. at 11.

For the reasons stated below, the Court adopts the Magistrate Judge's R & R and denies Defendant's motion for summary judgment.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the district court. The recommendation has no presumptive weight. The responsibility to make a final determination remains with the district court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). The district court is charged with making a de novo determination of those portions of the Report to which specific objection is made, and the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge, or recommit the matter with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

The district court is obligated to conduct a de novo review of every portion of the Magistrate Judge's report to which objections have been filed. Id. However, the court need not conduct a de novo review when a party makes only "general and conclusory objections that do not direct the [C]ourt to a specific error in the [M]agistrate's proposed findings and recommendations." Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). The Court reviews only for clear error in the absence of a specific objection. See Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005).

SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

Summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party has the burden of proving that summary judgment is appropriate. Once the moving party makes the showing, however, the opposing party must respond to the motion with "specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).

When no genuine issue of any material fact exists, summary judgment is appropriate. Shealy v. Winston, 929 F.2d 1009, 1011 (4th Cir. 1991). The facts and inferences to be drawn from the evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Id. However, "the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Id. (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986)).

In this case, Defendant "bears the initial burden of pointing to the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Temkin v. Frederick Cnty. Comm'rs, 845 F.2d 716, 718 (4th Cir. 1991) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986)). If Defendant carries this burden, "the burden then shifts to the non-moving party to come forward with fact sufficient to create a triable issue of fact." Id. at 718-19 (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48).

"Once the moving party has met its burden, the nonmoving party must come forward with some evidence beyond the mere allegations contained in the pleadings to show there is a genuine issue for trial." Baber v. Hosp. Corp. of Am., 977 F.2d 872, 874-75 (4th Cir. 1992). The nonmoving party may not rely on beliefs, conjecture, speculation, of conclusory allegations to defeat a motion for summary judgment. See id; Doyle v. Sentry, Inc., 877 F.Supp. 1002, 1005 (E.D. Va. 1995). Rather, the nonmoving party is required to submit evidence of specific facts by way of affidavits, depositions, interrogatories, or admissions to demonstrate the existence of a genuine and material factual issue for trial. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c), (e); Baber, 977 F.2d at 875 (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324)). Moreover, the nonmovant's proof must meet "the substantive evidentiary standard of proof that would apply at a trial on the merits." Mitchell v. Data Gen. Corp., 12 F.3d 1310, 1316 (4th Cir. 1993); DeLeon v. St. Joseph Hosp., Inc., 871 F.2d 1229, 1223 n.7 (4th Cir. 1989). In discrimination cases, a party is entitled to summary judgment if no reasonable jury could rule in the non-moving party's favor. See Dennis v. Columbia Colleton Med. Ctr., Inc., 290 F.3d 639, 645 (4th Cir. 2002).

FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The facts of this case, including citations to the record, were completely and accurately set forth in the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation. See ECF No. 51 at 1-4. Briefly stated, Plaintiff was employed by Agape from May 6, 2008 to May 16, 2012 as a Certified Nursing Assistant ("CNA"). See Agape Statement, ECF No. 37-4 at 3. During the course of her employment, Plaintiff alleges that she was treated differently on the basis of race in the terms, privileges and conditions of her employment. See ECF No. 1 at ¶ 7. She asserts that she was punished for patient complaints about here while other, Caucasian employees were not, and that she was terminated for failure to provide good customer service while other, Caucasian employees were not. See id. She also alleges that she was part of a pattern and practice of discriminatory discharge by Defendant. See id. Finally, Plaintiff alleges that she complained ...


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