United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division
F. Anderson, Jr. United States District Judge
Lawton Smith, Jr. (“Smith”), proceeding pro
se, filed an action alleging wrongful termination
against his former employer, The Print Machine Inc.,
(“TPM”) and some of its management employees
(“Individual Defendants”) (collectively
“Defendants”). (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. After
filing an answer to the complaint, Defendants moved for
dismissal of the complaint for failure to state a claim. (ECF
No. 31). Additionally, Smith moved for partial summary
judgment. (ECF No. 37).
Magistrate Judge assigned to this action prepared a
thorough Report and Recommendation (“Report”) and
opines that Defendants' motion for failure to state a
claim should be granted and Smith's motion for summary
judgement should be denied. (ECF No. 45). 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. Smith filed objections to the
Report on March 20, 2017. (ECF No. 48). Defendants responded
to those objections on March 27, 2017. (ECF No. 49).
Therefore, this matter is ripe for review.
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).
asserted several objections to the Report. Although vague and
somewhat incoherent, when construed liberally, certain
objections are discernable. However, each objection is
first objection seems to rebuke an inference that the
Magistrate Judge believes he is lying about an injury he
sustained on the job in 2009. This is based on statements
within the Report that state Smith “claims he injured
his shoulder/arm on the job in 2009 and suffered a permanent
partial disability.” (ECF No. 48 p. 1). Despite
Smith's contentions, the Magistrate Judge correctly
summarized the facts alleged in the complaint and attached
documents and assumed them to be true for purposes of
Defendants' motion to dismiss. Therefore, Plaintiff's
assertion that the Magistrate Judge did not believe his
claims is without merit.
then objects to the finding that his claim for Workers'
Compensation Retaliation is barred by the applicable statute
of limitations. (ECF No. 48 p. 3). Plaintiff claims that he
instituted proceedings with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission within the one year limitations period and
therefore, his current claim for Workers' Compensation
Retaliation is not barred. However, the Magistrate Judge
correctly concluded that the “Fourth Circuit and its
lower courts have rejected arguments that the statutes of
limitations for state law tort claims should be equitably
tolled where the claims arose from the same facts as a
discrimination claim that was being administratively
exhausted.” (ECF No 45 p. 4). Plaintiff's
contention to the contrary is baseless and without merit.
also disagrees with the Magistrate Judge's conclusion
that the Individual Defendants are not
“employers” for purposes of ADA claims and
therefore, no personal liability exists. Smith states that
“clearly, each individual defendant in the suit names
was an Officer, Employer, and partial Owner of the
Company.” (ECF No. 48 p. 3) (errors in original).
Although the Individual Defendants may have worked for TPM in
a supervisory role, the ADA does not allow a plaintiff to
pursue claims against individual defendants such as
supervisors. (ECF No. 45 p. 6). Therefore, Smith cannot
maintain a claim against the Individual Defendant's.
next objection challenges the Magistrate Judge's finding
that he failed to state a prima facie case for ADA
discrimination. (ECF No. 48 p. 5). In response to the finding
that he failed to assert facts to satisfy the essential
elements of his claim, Smith stated that “the evidence
put before [the Court] by the Plaintiff clearly shows there
are facts before this Court via documentation by Plaintiff
proving, ‘his discharge occurred under circumstances
that raise a reasonable inference of unlawful
discrimination.'” Id. However, Smith's
objection, much like the claims within his complaint, are
baseless, conclusory statements, devoid of any factual
support. The Magistrate Judge thoroughly analyzed Smith's
claims and liberally construed all of his supporting
assertions. Nevertheless, Smith failed to plead facts
sufficient to support the causal connection required for his
ADA claim. Therefore, his objection is without merit.
Plaintiff appears to object to the identification of the
Individual Defendants, both within the caption of the
Defendants' motion and within the substance of the
arguments, because they were listed without their official
positions and referred to as employees. (ECF No. 48 p. 6).
However, the identification of the Individual Defendants
without their official capacities or any reference to them as
employees has no effect on the legal analysis. Consequently,
Smith's objection is without merit.
carefully reviewing the applicable laws, the record in this
case, as well as the Report, this court finds the Magistrate
Judge's recommendation fairly and accurately summarizes
the facts and applies the correct principles of law.
Accordingly, the Court adopts the Report and Recommendation.
(ECF No. 45). Defendants' motion to dismiss
Plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim (ECF ...