United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division
F. Anderson, Jr.United States District Judge.
Saxton (“Saxton” or “Plaintiff”),
filed this action against his former employer, the Town of
Irmo Police Department (“Irmo PD”), alleging
racial discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000(e) et seq. Plaintiff has also asserted
state law causes of action against Irmo PD for defamation and
invasion of privacy. He has asserted state law causes of
action against Mark Shirley (“Shirley”) for
defamation and civil conspiracy. He has also asserted a state
law cause of action for civil conspiracy against Brian Buck
(“Buck”). This case was originally filed in the
Lexington County Court of Common Pleas and subsequently
removed to this court on March 17, 2015. (ECF No. 1). In
accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule
73.02(B)(2), D.S.C., the case was referred to the Magistrate
Judge. Thereafter, Shirley filed a motion for summary
judgement (ECF No. 50) and Buck, along with Irmo PD, filed a
separate motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 54).
Magistrate Judge assigned to this action prepared a
thorough Report and Recommendation (“Report”) and
opines that this court should dismiss Plaintiff's Title
VII claim and remand the remaining state law claims back to
the Lexington County Court of Common Pleas. (ECF No. 80). The
Report sets forth in detail the relevant facts and standards
of law on this matter, and this court incorporates those
facts and standards without a recitation.
party objected to the Report. All defendants object to the
extent that the Report recommends a remand of all remaining
state law claims back to the Lexington County court. (ECF No.
81, 84). Plaintiff objects to the dismissal of his Title VII
claim, but supports a remand of the remaining claims in the
event that this court dismisses the Title VII claim over his
objections. (ECF No. 85).
court is charged with making a de novo determination
of those portions of the Report to which specific objections
are made, and the court may accept, reject, or modify, in
whole or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge,
or recommit the matter to the Magistrate Judge with
instructions. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
However, a district court is only required to conduct a
de novo review of the specific portions of the
Magistrate Judge's Report to which an objection is made.
See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b);
Carniewski v. W. Virginia Bd. of Prob. & Parole,
974 F.2d 1330 (4th Cir. 1992). In the absence of specific
objections to portions of the Report of the Magistrate, this
court is not required to give an explanation for adopting the
recommendation. See Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198,
199 (4th Cir. 1983).
has submitted two specific objections to the Report centering
on the Magistrate Judge's conclusion that the Title VII
claim should be dismissed. Defendants have submitted several
objections to the Magistrate Judge's refusal to address
the state law claims and the recommendation to remand these
claims back to state court.
has outlined two specific objections to the Magistrate
Judge's legal analysis of his Title VII claim.
Specifically, Plaintiff states that “the Magistrate
Judge erred in concluding that the Plaintiff has failed to
present sufficient direct or circumstantial evidence that
race was a motivating factor in his termination.” (ECF
No. 85 p. 2). Additionally, Plaintiff objects to the
Magistrate Judge's conclusion that “Plaintiff has
failed to identify a proper comparator and/or establish
pretext with respect to his race discrimination claim.”
does not object to the analytical framework articulated by
the Magistrate Judge, but he does object to the application
of that framework to the present facts. (ECF No. 85 p. 6).
Plaintiff asserts that the record contains evidence
sufficient to support an inference that his termination was
racially motivated. Despite this assertion, the Magistrate
Judge correctly concluded that Plaintiff's Title VII
claim should be dismissed.
Plaintiff asserts that the Magistrate Judge erroneously
disregarded two points asserted by Plaintiff in support of
his mixed-motive theory of discrimination. Namely, the
Magistrate Judge failed to consider the fact that Plaintiff
was one of only a few black police officers employed by the
Irmo PD and that Irmo PD received several threats from
Defendant Shirley, acknowledging that he did not like black
people. Id. In responding to the Magistrate
Judge's finding that “Plaintiff fails to point to
any evidence in support of his assertions, ” Plaintiff
cited to various instances in the record. Specifically,
Plaintiff cites to deposition testimony stating Plaintiff was
one of four black officers out of the total twenty-five
officers employed by the Irmo PD. (ECF No. 85 p. 7).
Additionally, Plaintiff cites to comments made by Defendant
Shirley to his wife including, “it was one thing to
have an affair but to have one with a black man is
the Magistrate Judge did not acknowledge these instances from
the record, he did state that even if this type of evidence
was presented, “these assertions do not go towards any
motivation on the part of the decision maker regarding
actions taken against Plaintiff.” (ECF No. 80 p. 13).
Indeed, these asserted points, even if true, have no bearing
on Defendant Buck, the decision maker. None of Shirley's
alleged statements had any effect on Buck. Additionally, the
percentage of black employees does not impart any racially
charged motivation to Buck when he made the decision to fire
Plaintiff for failure to obey a direct command.
also asserts that Shirley's original allegations of
inappropriate conduct were never confirmed. Plaintiff's
objection misses the mark. Regardless of the veracity of
Shirley's original allegations that Plaintiff engaged in
adulterous activity with Shirley's wife while on duty,
Plaintiff was fired for failing to obey direct orders during
the pendency of the investigation into Plaintiff's
actions. (ECF No. 80 p. 8). Again, Defendant Shirley's