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Brown v. The Omo Group, Inc

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

March 28, 2017

ROSE BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
THE OMO GROUP, INC., Defendant and Third-Party Plaintiff,
v.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY, Third-Party Defendant.

          ORDER

          DAVID C. NORTON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the court on United States Magistrate Judge Kevin F. McDonald's report and recommendation (“R&R”), ECF No. 63, that the court grant the motion to dismiss of third-party defendant U.S. Department of the Navy (“Navy”), ECF No. 40, and grant the motion for summary judgment of defendant and third-party plaintiff The OMO Group (“OMO”), ECF No. 44. For the reasons sets forth below, the court adopts the R&R, granting the Navy's motion to dismiss and granting OMO's motion for summary judgment. Additionally, the court adopts those portions of the R&R which are not inconsistent with this Order.

         I. BACKGROUND[1]

         A. Factual Allegations

         The R&R ably recites the relevant facts, and it is unnecessary to review the details of the complaint and depositions that constitute the factual record to this point. In short, Rose Brown (“Brown”), an African-American female, began working in January 30, 2012 as a dental hygienist for OMO, a federal contractor that provides dental workers for the Navy's dental clinic at Parris Island in Beaufort, South Carolina. During Brown's pregnancy, she was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance and had emergency surgery to remove cysts on her ovaries, losing an ovary in the process. ECF No. 66, Ex. 4. She was later ordered to bedrest for the remainder of her pregnancy due to preeclampsia and gestational hypertension. ECF No. 66, Ex. 4 at 3.

         Brown filed a complaint against OMO on July 15, 2014, alleging pregnancy, race, and sex discrimination[2] in violation of the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), as amended, along with a state law claim for breach of contract. ECF No. 1. On January 16, 2015, OMO filed an amended answer and third-party complaint alleging causes of action for breach of contract and for indemnity against the Navy. ECF No. 18. The Navy filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction on May 24, 2016, arguing that contract claims in excess of $10, 000 can only be heard in the Court of Federal Claims under the Tucker Act. ECF No. 40 at 2.

         This case is now before the court on the magistrate judge's R&R, which recommends that the court: (1) grant the Navy's motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and (2) grant OMO's motion for summary judgment. ECF No. 63 at 16. Brown filed timely objections to the R&R, ECF No. 65, and OMO filed a response, ECF No. 67. The Navy also filed a response, ECF No. 66. The matter is now ripe for the court's review.

         II. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

         This court is charged with conducting a de novo review of any portion of the magistrate judge's report to which specific, written objections are made, and may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the recommendations contained in that report. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The magistrate judge's recommendation does not carry presumptive weight, and it is the responsibility of this court to make a final determination. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). A party's failure to object may be treated as agreement with the conclusions of the magistrate judge. See Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 150 (1985).

         Summary judgment shall be granted “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). “[S]ummary judgment will not lie if the dispute about a material fact is ‘genuine, ' that is, if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id. “[A]t the summary judgment stage the judge's function is not himself to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial.” Id. at 249. The court should view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all justifiable inferences in its favor. Id. at 255.

         “The party seeking summary judgment shoulders the initial burden of demonstrating to the district court that there is no genuine issue of material fact.” Major v. Greenville Hous. Auth., No. 6:12-cv-183, 2012 WL 3000680, at *1 (D.S.C. Apr. 11, 2012). Nevertheless, “when a properly supported motion for summary judgment is made, the adverse party ‘must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'” Id. (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). The plain language of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) “mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). “[C]onclusory allegations or denials, without more, are insufficient to preclude the granting of the summary judgment motion.” Major, 2012 WL 2000680, at *1.

         III. DISCUSSION

         The R&R found that Brown's employment discrimination claim fails because OMO's perception that it was being pressured by the Navy to terminate Brown's employment was a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for her termination. ECF No. 63 at 14. All of Brown's objections go to the R&R's recommendation that the court grant OMO's motion for summary judgment as to the employment discrimination claim-she makes no objections to the R&R's recommendation that the court grant summary judgment on either claim. In the absence of a timely filed objection, a district court need “only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation.” Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005) (internal citations omitted). Upon review, the court is satisfied that there is no clear error in the magistrate judge's determination of the breach of contract claim and adopts the R&R's reasoning as to the breach of contract claim.

         There were also no objections filed against the magistrate judge's recommendation that the court grant the Navy's motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Having carefully reviewed the Magistrate Judge's detailed R&R, relevant case law, and the relevant portions of the record, the court is satisfied that ...


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