United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Orangeburg Division
Maliaka S. Void and Frederick Summers, Plaintiffs,
Orangeburg County Disabilities and Special Needs Board, Defendant.
ORDER AND OPINION
Plaintiffs Maliaka S. Void (“Void”) and Frederick Summers (“Summers”) (collectively “Plaintiffs”) filed this action against their employer, Defendant Orangeburg County Disabilities and Special Needs Board (“Defendant”), alleging violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201–219. (ECF No. 1-1.)
This matter is before the court on Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss and/or for Summary Judgment pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 37, 41(b) and 56, on the grounds that: (1) Plaintiffs have failed to prosecute this action, causing Defendants to incur unnecessary fees and costs and (2) Plaintiffs have failed to present genuine issues of material fact upon which their claims are based. (ECF No. 38.) Plaintiffs oppose the Motion to Dismiss and/or for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 44.) For the reasons set forth below, the court DENIES Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss and/or for Summary Judgment.
I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND TO PENDING MOTION
Defendant “is the administrative, planning, coordinating, and service delivery body” for Orangeburg County, South Carolina citizens with “disabilities and special needs, ” including those with “mental retardation, related disabilities, head injuries, and spinal cord injuries.” (ECF No. 9-1 at 1–2 (quoting S.C. Code Ann. § 44-20-385 (2014); citing Hedberg v. Darlington Cnty. Disabilities & Special Needs Bd., No. 95-3049, 1997 WL 787164, at *1 n.1 (4th Cir. Dec. 24, 1997)).) Plaintiffs are hourly employees of Defendant. (ECF No. 1-1 at 5 ¶ 15.)
On or about May 2, 2014, Plaintiffs filed an action seeking monetary damages for alleged violations of the FLSA. (Id. at 4–7.) This matter is currently in its third amended conference and scheduling order. (ECF No. 33.) Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss and/or for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 37, 41(b) and 56 on April 2, 2015. (ECF Nos. 38, 38-1.) In response to Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss and/or for Summary Judgment, Plaintiffs filed a Response on April 27, 2015, to which Defendant filed a Reply on May 7, 2015. (ECF Nos. 44, 50.)
This court has original federal question jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 because Plaintiffs allege violations of federal laws and regulations.
III. LEGAL STANDARD
A. Dismissal for Failure to Prosecute
Federal courts have the authority to dismiss a plaintiff's action with prejudice because of his or her failure to prosecute. Link v. Wabash R.R. Co., 370 U.S. 626, 629 (1962). “Rule 41(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides an explicit basis for this sanction.” Doyle v. Murray, 938 F.2d 33, 34 (4th Cir. 1991); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(b). To determine whether dismissal for failure to prosecute constitutes an appropriate sanction, courts must consider four factors: “(1) the plaintiffs degree of personal responsibility; (2) the amount of prejudice caused the defendant; (3) the presence of a drawn out history of deliberately proceeding in a dilatory fashion; and (4) the effectiveness of sanctions less drastic than dismissal.” Hillig v. Commissioner, 916 F.2d 171, 174 (4th Cir. 1990) (citing Herbert v. Saffell, 877 F.2d 267, 270 (4th Cir. 1989)).
Similarly, Fed.R.Civ.P. 37 (“Rule 37”) permits a court to impose sanctions upon motion when “a party, after being properly served with interrogatories under Rule 33 . . . fails to serve its answers, objections, or written response.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(d)(1)(A)(ii). Available sanctions include “dismissing the action or proceeding in whole or in part.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(b)(2)(A)(v), (d)(3). In considering whether to impose sanctions pursuant to Rule 37, the court must determine “(1) whether the non-complying party acted in bad faith, (2) the amount of prejudice that noncompliance caused the adversary, (3) the need for deterrence of the particular sort of non-compliance, and (4) whether less drastic sanctions would have been effective.” Belk v. Charlotte–Mecklenburg Bd. of Educ., 269 F.3d 305, 348 (4th Cir. 2001) (citing Anderson v. Found. for Advancement, Educ. & Emp. of Am. Indians, 155 F.3d 500, 504 (4th Cir. 1998)).
“The legal standard for dismissals under Rule 37 is virtually the same as that for dismissals for failure to prosecute under Rule 41.” See Clatterbuck v. Charlottesville, 3:11CV00043, 2013 WL 4929519, at *3 (W.D. Va. Sept. 12, 2013) (noting that the standard for imposing dismissal as a sanction under Fed.R.Civ.P. 37 (d)(1)(A)(ii) is virtually the same as that for dismissal for failure to prosecute under Rule 41).
B. Summary Judgment
Summary judgment should be granted “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A fact is “material” if proof of its existence or non-existence would affect the disposition of the case under the applicable law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248–49 (1986). A genuine question of material fact exists where, after reviewing the record as a whole, the court finds that a reasonable ...