United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
V. Hodges United States Magistrate Judge
employment discrimination case, Louie Lawton Smith, Jr.
(“Plaintiff”), sues The Print Machine, Inc.
(“TPM”), and Kasey Cooper Fay, Jim Norris, Chris
Fay, Jerry Cooper, and Matt Luther (the “individual
Defendants”) (collectively “Defendants”),
alleging claims for workers' compensation retaliation and
violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C.
§ 12101, et seq. (“ADA”). [ECF No.
1]. This matter comes before the court on: (1)
Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a), 12(b)(6), and 12(c) [ECF No.
31]; and (2) Plaintiff's motion for partial summary
judgment [ECF No. 37]. The motions having been fully briefed
[ECF Nos. 36, 39-42], they are ripe for disposition.
pretrial proceedings in this case were referred to the
undersigned pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civ. Rule 73.02(B)(2)(g) (D.S.C.).
Because the motions are dispositive, this report and
recommendation is entered for the district judge's
consideration. For the reasons that follow, the undersigned
recommends the district court grant Defendants' motion to
dismiss and deny Plaintiff's motion for partial summary
and Procedural Background
following is a summary of the facts as alleged by Plaintiff
in his complaint and the attachments thereto: Plaintiff was
hired by his former employer TPM on October 18, 2004, as a
Delivery Driver. [ECF No. 1-2 at 1, 2]. Plaintiff states he
worked for TPM for ten years and claims he injured his
shoulder/arm on the job in 2009 and suffered a permanent
partial disability. [ECF Nos. 1-1 at 1, 1-3 at 1]. He states
that he had shoulder surgery and remained out of work, but
was paid, for two to three months. [ECF No. 1-3 at 1].
Plaintiff says he was assured by then-TPM executives Todd
Brown and Jerry Cooper that his job would always be available
regardless of his arm damage. Id. Plaintiff claims
that after a change in management, he was discharged.
Id. Plaintiff claims that he was told his
“position was being eliminated due to weak sales in the
Columbia office.” [ECF No. 1-3 at 2-3]. However, he
states that approximately one month after he was terminated,
TPM's newsletter revealed an increase in business,
id. at 3, and it also hired three additional
employees to do work he previously performed. [ECF Nos. 1-1
at 2; 1-2 at 4].
states he filed an administrative charge with the South
Carolina Human Affairs Commission in 2015 that was
transferred to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(“EEOC”). Plaintiff states he received a right to
sue letter from the EEOC on June 30, 2016. [ECF No. 1-1 at
4]. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages. [ECF No. 1 at 8].
survive a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6),
“a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). The court
is “not required to accept as true the legal
conclusions set forth in a plaintiff's complaint.”
Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 244 (4th
Cir. 1999). Indeed, “[t]he presence of a few conclusory
legal terms does not insulate a complaint from dismissal
under Rule 12(b)(6) when the facts alleged in the complaint
cannot support” the legal conclusion. Young v. City
of Mount Ranier, 238 F.3d 567, 577 (4th Cir. 2001).
Furthermore, in analyzing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss,
a court may consider “documents incorporated into the
complaint by reference, and matters of which a court may take
judicial notice.” Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues
& Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322 (2007).
Workers' Compensation Retaliation
Carolina prohibits an employer from discharging or demoting
an employee because the employee has instituted or caused to
be instituted in good faith any proceeding under South
Carolina's Workers' Compensation Law, SC Code Ann.
§ 41-1-80 (the “Act”). The employee carries
the burden of proving that his discharge or demotion occurred
because he instituted proceedings under the Act. Id.
To prove his claim, Plaintiff must show that (1) he
instituted a workers' compensation claim, (2) he was
discharged or demoted, and (3) a causal connection exists
between the two events. Hinton v. Designer Ensembles,
Inc., 540 S.E.2d 94, 97 (S.C. 2000). The appropriate
test for causation is the “determinative factor”
test, which requires Plaintiff to establish that he would not
have been discharged “but for” the filing of his
workers' compensation claim. Id. “The
ultimate burden of persuading the trier of fact that the
employer retaliatorily discharged the employee for exercising
statutory rights under the Act remain at all times with the
employee.” Id. (internal quotations omitted).
argue that to the extent Plaintiff asserts a workers'
compensation retaliation claim against them, his claims are
untimely. The statute of limitations for a former employee to
assert a workers' compensation retaliation claim is one
year. S.C. Code Ann. § 41-1-80. Defendants argue that
the court should dismiss as time-barred Plaintiff's
complaint for workers' compensation retaliation, as ...