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Odom v. CVS Caremark Corp.

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

August 31, 2016

JAMES D. ODOM, Plaintiff,
v.
CVS CAREMARK CORPORATION, CVS RX SERVICES, INC., and SOUTH CAROLINA CVS PHARMACY, LLC, Defendants.

          ORDER ADOPTING THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION AND GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          MARY GEIGER LEWIS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff filed this case containing federal statutory claims of sex and age discrimination as well as a state law claim of defamation. The matter is before the Court for review of the Report and Recommendation(Report) of the United States Magistrate Judge suggesting Defendants' motion for summary judgment be granted. The Report was made in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636 and Local Civil Rule 73.02 for the District of South Carolina.

         The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court. The recommendation has no presumptive weight. The responsibility to make a final determination remains with the Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270 (1976). The 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 Magistrate Judge filed the Report on July 6, 2016, Plaintiff filed his objections on July 25, 2016, and Defendants filed their response to Plaintiffs objections on August 11, 2016. The Court has carefully considered Plaintiffs objections, but holds them to be without merit. Therefore, it will enter judgment accordingly.

         Much of what Plaintiff includes in his submission is not specific objections to the Report, but is instead nothing more than a reassertion of arguments the Magistrate Judge has already considered and rejected. Plaintiff did this notwithstanding straightforward statutory authority requiring specific objections: (1) “a party may serve and file specific, written objections to the proposed findings and recommendations, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b); (2) “[a] judge of the court shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made, ” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); and (3) “[a]ny adjudication of fact or conclusion of law rendered [in the Report] not specifically objected to . . . may become conclusive upon the parties. Failure to file specific objections pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C) . . . may be construed by any reviewing court as a waiver of such objection” Hence, the Court's analysis below addresses only Plaintiffs statements in which he lodges specific objections to the Report.

         First, Plaintiff contends “[t]he Magistrate Judge erred in concluding that Plaintiff has failed to present sufficient direct or circumstantial evidence that sex was a motivating factor in his termination.” Objections 6. The Court is unconvinced.

         As the Magistrate Judge observed, Plaintiff marshals the following in his attempt to demonstrate [Defendants] discriminated against him based on sex:

(1) that he was not the pharmacist involved with the sale of the prescription in January 2013; (2) that a female pharmacist was in fact involved in the prescription transaction on that date; (3) that a second female pharmacist was involved in executing a falsified statement to DHEC in that she did not work at the pharmacy on the date prescribed and would have had no personal knowledge of the same; (4) that another female employee of the Defendant actually committed the act of disclosing the personal information to the police officer; (5) that the Plaintiff was the only individual who was questioned by Hammond and Spivey as being the violator; and (6) that Plaintiff was the only employee that was terminated for any purported violation.

         Report 16 (quoting ECF No. 83 at 21).

         Plaintiff takes exception to the Magistrate Judge's suggestion that allegation one, “that he was not the pharmacist involved with the sale of the prescription in January 2013, ” and two, “that a female pharmacist was in fact involved in the prescription transaction on that date, ” are irrelevant. The Magistrate suggested that this is so because “there has been no allegation . . . that anyone from the Pharmacy acted improperly in filling the prescription.” Report 16. According to Plaintiff, however, “[t]he Magistrate Judge's assertion that these facts are irrelevant misses the point-the analysis is whether . . . gender motivated . . . Defendants' adverse employment action against Plaintiff.” Objections 7.

         Defendants state they discharged Plaintiff solely because he violated Defendants' Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) policy. As such, Plaintiffs two arguments regarding who filled the prescription are nothing more than a distraction. The same is true regarding Plaintiffs contention the Magistrate Judge incorrectly dismissed his third argument: “that a second female pharmacist was involved in executing a falsified statement to DHEC in that she did not work at the pharmacy on the date prescribed and would have had no personal knowledge of the same[.]” Report 16 (quoting ECF No. 83 at 21). This allegation has nothing whatsoever to do with Defendants' articulated reason for terminating Plaintiff. For these reasons, the Court will overrule this objection.

         Second, Plaintiff maintains “[t]he Magistrate Judge erred in concluding that Plaintiff had not shown pretext on [his] Title VII and ADEA discrimination claims.” Objections 8. The Court disagrees.

         The Court is of the firm opinion Plaintiff has failed to establish a prima facie case of sex and age discrimination. But, even if it thought otherwise, Defendants have “identified a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for discharging Plaintiff, he committed a HIPAA violation.” Report 22. And Plaintiff's pretext arguments are insufficient to show Defendants discriminated against him on the basis of his sex or age.

         When “reviewing the employer's articulated reasons for discharge and the plaintiff's refutation thereof, [the Court] must keep in mind that Title VII [and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, 29 U.S.C. § 621 (ADEA) are] not . . . vehicle[s] for substituting the judgment of a court for that of the employer. DeJarnette v. Corning Inc., 133 F.3d 293, 298-99 (4th Cir. 1998) (citation omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted). In other words, “this Court does not sit as a kind of super-personnel department weighing the prudence of employment decisions made by [employers] charged with employment discrimination.” Id. at 299 (citations omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted) (alteration marks omitted). Instead, the Court's only interest “is whether the reason for which the defendant discharged the plaintiff was discriminatory.” Id. Therefore, if the “employer articulates a ...


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