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Elliott v. Oldcastle Lawn & Garden Inc.

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

April 3, 2017

STANLEY ELLIOTT, Plaintiff,
v.
OLDCASTLE LAWN & GARDEN, INC., OLCASTLE INC., and OAK TREE HR LLC d/b/a OAK TREE STAFFING, Defendants

          ORDER

          DAVID C. NORTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the court on United States Magistrate Judge Jacquelyn D. Austin's report and recommendation (“R&R”), ECF No. 29, that the court deny defendant Oldcastle Inc.'s (“Oldcastle”) motion to dismiss, ECF No. 7, and grant in part and deny in part defendant Oak Tree HR LLC's (“Oak Tree”) motion to dismiss, ECF No. 16, granting with respect to plaintiff Stanley Elliott's (“Elliott”) termination claims and denying with respect to Elliott's failure to accommodate claim. ECF No. 29. For the reasons sets forth below, the court adopts the R&R in full.

         I. BACKGROUND

          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.[1] In short, Elliot, who was 51 years old at the time of the events at issue, began working for the staffing agency Oak Tree on April 15, 2015. Oak Tree placed Elliot with Oldcastle Law & Garden, Inc. (“Oldcastle Lawn”) and Oldcastle. On April 17, 2015, Elliot met with Dean Sparks (“Sparks”), a manager for Oldcastle Lawn and Oldcastle, who terminated Elliot because Elliot was “too old to work” and suffered from seizures. After his termination, defendants hired an employee under 40 who had no disability to replace Elliot. Elliot filed a charge of employment discrimination on the basis of disability with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), which issued a notice of the right to sue on March 18, 2016.

         Elliot filed the instant case on June 14, 2016 against Oldcastle Lawn & Garden, Oldcastle, and Oak Tree, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (“ADEA”). In his complaint, Elliot appears to assert ADA claims for failure to accommodate and retaliatory discharge, and ADEA claims for discriminatory discharge and retaliatory discharge.[2]

         This case is before the court on the magistrate judge's R&R, which recommends the following disposition of the parties' motions: (1) deny Oldcastle's motion to dismiss, and (2) grant in part and deny in part Oak Tree's motion to dismiss. Oak Tree filed an objection on December 13, 2016, ECF No. 38, to which Elliott replied on December 28, 2016. ECF No. 42. Elliott filed an objection on December 16, 2016, ECF No. 39, to which Oak Tree HR LLC replied on December 21, 2016, ECF No. 41. The matter is now ripe for the court's review.

         II. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

         A. De Novo Review

         This court is charged with conducting a de novo review of any portion of the magistrate judge's R&R to which specific, written objections are made. 28 U.S.C. 636(b)(1). The court may adopt the portions of the R&R to which a party does did not object, as a party's failure to object is accepted as agreement with the conclusions of the magistrate judge. Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 14-50 (1985). The recommendation of the magistrate judge carries no presumptive weight, and it is this court's responsibility to make a final determination. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976).

         A. Motion to Dismiss

          A Rule 12(b)(6) motion for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted “challenges the legal sufficiency of a complaint.” Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 192 (4th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted); see also Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992) (“A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) . . . does not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses.”). To be legally sufficient, a pleading must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion should not be granted unless it appears certain that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts that would support his claim and would entitle him to relief. Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993). When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court should accept all well-pleaded allegations as true and should view the complaint in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. Ostrzenski v. Seigel, 177 F.3d 245, 251 (4th Cir.1999); Mylan Labs., Inc., 7 F.3d at 1134. “To survive a motion to dismiss, 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 Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id

          III. DISCUSSION

         A. Oldcastle's ...


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