United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
Bryan Harwell United States District Judge.
Burnie Squires filed this action in this Court against his
former employer, Defendant South Carolina Department of
Health and Environmental Control, alleging Defendant violated
Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act
(“ADA”) by failing to reasonably accommodate his
disability in his employment. See Complaint [ECF No.
1]. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule
12(b)(1) and Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. See ECF No. 8.
matter is now before the Court for review of the Report and
Recommendation (“R & R”) of United States
Magistrate Judge Kaymani D. West, made in accordance with 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civil Rule
73.02(B)(2)(g) for the District of South Carolina.
See R & R [ECF No. 18]. The Magistrate Judge
recommends that the Court grant Defendant's motion to
dismiss and dismiss this case with prejudice. R & R at 1,
8. Plaintiff has filed timely objections to the R & R.
See Pl.'s Objs. [ECF No. 19]. Defendant has not
filed a reply to Plaintiff's objections.
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the Court.
The Magistrate Judge's recommendation has no presumptive
weight, and the responsibility to make a final determination
remains with the Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S.
261, 270-71 (1976). The Court must conduct a de novo review
of those portions of the R & R to which specific
objections are made, and it 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. §
Court must engage in 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 [Judge]'s proposed
findings and recommendations.” Orpiano v.
Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). In the absence
of specific objections to the R & R, the Court reviews
only for clear error, Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc.
Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005), and the
Court need not give any explanation for adopting the
Magistrate Judge's recommendation. Camby v.
Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199-200 (4th Cir. 1983).
asserts a single cause of action in his complaint, alleging
Defendant-a state agency-violated Title I of the ADA by
failing to reasonably accommodate his Type II diabetes
disability in his employment as a disease intervention
specialist. See Compl. at ¶¶ 38-45.
Plaintiff alleges he “is entitled to injunctive relief
and/or civil damages.” Id. at ¶¶
29-30, 35. Defendant moves to dismiss Plaintiff's action
pursuant to both Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and
12(b)(6), arguing state sovereign immunity and the Eleventh
Amendment bar Plaintiff's ADA claim for monetary
damages. See ECF No. 8. The Magistrate
Judge recommends granting Defendant's motion and
dismissing this case with prejudice because Defendant is
immune from suit for money damages under the Eleventh
Amendment. R & R at 1, 4-8. Plaintiff objects to the
Magistrate Judge's recommendation. See Pl.'s
Objs. at 1-2.
Eleventh Amendment bars suits against states and state
agencies “regardless of the nature of the relief
sought.” Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v.
Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984); see, e.g.,
McCray v. Maryland Dep't of Transp., 741 F.3d
480, 483 (4th Cir. 2014) (applying Eleventh Amendment
immunity and finding the plaintiff could “not seek
injunctive or monetary relief from” two state
agencies). “An unconsenting State is immune from suits
brought in federal courts by her own citizens as well as by
citizens of another State.” Lee-Thomas v. Prince
George's Cty. Pub. Sch., 666 F.3d 244, 248 (4th Cir.
2012). However, Eleventh Amendment immunity is not absolute,
and three exceptions exist to this immunity:
First, Congress may abrogate the States' Eleventh
Amendment immunity when it both unequivocally intends to do
so and acts pursuant to a valid grant of constitutional
authority. . . . Second, the Eleventh Amendment permits suits
for prospective injunctive relief against state officials
acting in violation of federal law. . . . Third, [a] State
remains free to waive its Eleventh Amendment immunity from
suit in a federal court.
Id. at 248-49 (alteration in original) (internal
quotation marks, citations, and footnote omitted).
Magistrate Judge determined Plaintiff's Title I ADA claim
for monetary damages must be dismissed based upon the United
States Supreme Court's decision in Board of Trustees
of University of Alabama v. Garrett, 531 U.S.
356 (2001). R & R at 4-7. In Garrett, the
Supreme Court held the Eleventh Amendment bars private suits
seeking money damages for state violations of Title I of the
531 U.S. at 360, 374.
objections to the R & R, Plaintiff asserts “the
Magistrate Judge erred by applying Garrett in
determining that [Defendant] has sovereign immunity in these
proceedings.” Pl.'s Objs. at 2. He cites the above
three exceptions to Eleventh Amendment immunity, and then
invokes the third exception-waiver-arguing Defendant has
consented to suit in federal court by accepting federal funds
and financial assistance. Id. Plaintiff supports his
waiver argument by citing White v. Engler, 188
F.Supp.2d 730 (E.D. Mich. 2001). Pl.'s Objs. at 1-2.
White, a class of plaintiffs asserted claims under
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,  the Equal Protection
Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against multiple state defendants. 188 F.Supp.2d at 734, 737.
The defendants filed a motion to dismiss arguing Eleventh
Amendment immunity barred the plaintiffs' claims.
Id. at 738. The district court denied the motion and
found Plaintiff's claims fell “squarely
within” the three exceptions to Eleventh Amendment
immunity. Id. at 738-41. In particular, the district
court concluded the defendants waived their sovereign
immunity and consented to suit in federal court ...