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Sanders v. Family Dollar Stores, Inc.

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Rock Hill Division

October 27, 2017

Eric Alan Sanders, Plaintiff,
v.
Family Dollar Stores, Inc., Defendant.

          ORDER AND OPINION

         Plaintiff Eric Alan Sanders (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se, filed a Complaint against Defendant Family Dollar Stores, Inc. (“Defendant”) alleging a hostile work environment, negligence, gender-based disparate treatment in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964(a)(1-2)), disability-based disparate treatment in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 12112 (the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990), and “Retaliation in Response to Opposition to the Hostile Work Environment and the Protected Activity in Reporting.” (ECF No. 1 at 19 ¶¶ 298-302.) His Complaint was dismissed, and Judgment was entered in favor of Defendant. (ECF Nos. 98, 99.)

         This matter is before the court on Plaintiff's Motion for Relief from Final Judgment. (ECF No. 107.) For the reasons stated below, the court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion.

         I. RELEVANT PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The court concludes upon its own careful review of the record that the factual and procedural summation in the Magistrate Judge's Report (ECF No. 93) is accurate, and the court adopts this summary as its own. Subsequently, the court will only recite herein facts pertinent to the analysis of Plaintiff's Motion for Relief from Final Judgment. (ECF No. 107.) The Magistrate Judge's Report was filed on November 22, 2016 and Plaintiff filed an Objection on December 7, 2016. (ECF Nos. 93, 95.) Defendant responded to Plaintiff's Objection, and the court accepted the Magistrate Judge's Report granting Defendant's Motion to Dismiss for Plaintiff's Failure to Participate in Discovery (ECF No. 80), on January 3, 2017. (ECF Nos. 96, 98.) On January 23, 2017, Plaintiff appealed the court's Order and Judgment to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which was affirmed on August 22, 2017. (ECF Nos. 101, 108.) On August 14, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Relief from Final Judgment. (ECF No. 107.) The Mandate and Judgment of the Fourth Circuit was filed on October 10, 2017. (ECF No. 111.)

         II. JURISDICTION

         The court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 based on Plaintiff's allegations arising under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. and 42 U.S.C. § 12112. The court also has jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3) to hear Plaintiff's Title VII claim, which specifically grants jurisdiction to the court to hear cases under Title VII.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         "[B]efore a party may seek relief under Rule 60(b), a party first must show timeliness, a meritorious defense[1], a lack of unfair prejudice to [any] opposing party, and exceptional circumstances.[2] After a party has crossed this initial threshold, he then must satisfy one of the six specific sections of Rule 60(b)." Dowell v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Auto. Ins. Co., 993 F.2d 46, 48 (4th Cir. 1993) (citing Werner v. Carbo, 731 F.2d 204, 207 (4th Cir. 1984)).

         A court may relieve a party from a final judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b) for the following reasons: “(1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect; (2) newly discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence, could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b); (3) fraud (whether previously called intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party; (4) the judgment is void; (5) the judgment has been satisfied, released or discharged; it is based on an earlier judgment that has been reversed or vacated; or applying it prospectively is no longer equitable; or (6) any other reason that justifies relief.” A motion under this rule must be made within a reasonable time, and relief under reasons (1), (2), and (3) is not available after one year from the entry of the judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(c)(1).

         The standard governing relief based on newly discovered evidence under Rule 60(b)(2) requires that a party demonstrate: “(1) the evidence is newly discovered since the judgment was entered; (2) due diligence on the part of the movant to discover the new evidence has been exercised; (3) the evidence is not merely cumulative or impeaching; (4) the evidence is material; and (5) the evidence is such that is likely to produce a new outcome if the case were retried, or is such that would require the judgment to be amended.” Boryan v. United States, 884 F.2d 767, 771 (4th Cir. 1989) (citing Taylor v. Texgas Corp., 831 F.2d 255, 259 (11th Cir. 1987) (citations omitted)).

         As Plaintiff is a pro se litigant, the court is required to liberally construe his arguments. Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978); see also Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (pro se plaintiff's “inartful pleadings” may be sufficient enough to provide the opportunity to offer supporting evidence.)

         IV. ANALYSIS

         As to the threshold requirements for relief under Rule 60(b), Plaintiff filed a timely Motion, and asserts the defense that he did not have evidence of his wife and mother's license suspension (ECF No. 107-1 at 2, 4), and that their license suspension is part of the reason why he did not comply with the court's Text Order that he be deposed on or before August 15, 2016 (ECF No. 66). (ECF No. 107.) Plaintiff also asserts the defense that Dr. Caleb Loring's Report (ECF No. 107-1 at 7-10) is new medical evidence that confirms his anxiety was the reason he stopped his November 3, 2015 deposition and did not meaningfully participate. (Id. at 3.)[3] As to the lack of unfair prejudice to Defendant, the court acknowledges that Defendant may be prejudiced by the court modifying its Order and reopening Plaintiff's case given his “persistent” non-compliance with the court's previous orders. (See ECF No. 98 at 4.) However, because Plaintiff is pro se and the court must liberally construe his arguments, the court will address Plaintiff's Motion.[4]

         Plaintiff brings his Motion pursuant to the new evidence provisions of Rule 60(b)(2). (ECF No. 107 at 1-2.) Addressing Plaintiff's notification of his wife and mother's driver's license suspensions, Plaintiff asserts that the evidence is newly discovered because he had no knowledge of the suspensions until after the ...


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