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Mack v. Detyens Shipyards Inc.

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

November 30, 2017

Vania Mack, Plaintiff,
v.
Detyens Shipyards, Inc., and Hightrak, d/b/a Hitrak Staffing, Inc., Defendants.

          ORDER AND OPINION

          Richard Mark Gergel, United States District Court Judge

         This matter is before the Court on the Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge, recommending that Defendants' motion for summary judgment be granted in part and denied in part. For the reasons set forth below, the Court adopts the Report and Recommendation.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff alleges that in March 2015, she began working at Detyens Shipyards through Hitrak Staffing, an employment agency. On June 14, 2015, Plaintiff bent over while was working in the cargo hold of a ship. Plaintiff testified that another employee, Herman Johnson, then "grabbed me from my vagina to my rear end." (Dkt. No. 30-1.) Plaintiff testified that she immediately reported what had happened to her supervisor, who reported it to management. Management met with Plaintiff that same day, and again on the following day. After she met with management, Plaintiff went back to the ship and saw Johnson "being escorted off the ship." (Id.) Plaintiff testified that it was her understanding that he was terminated "that very day" and that she had never seen him again since. (Id.) Two weeks later, Plaintiff was terminated. Plaintiff claims her termination was in retaliation for her harassment claim. Defendants claim Plaintiff was terminated for a confrontational response to being told to cease prohibited use of a cell phone in a break room at the work site.

         On April 28, 2016, Plaintiff filed the present action, asserting claims for sexual harassment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and for negligent supervision under South Carolina law. Defendants moved for summary judgment on August 29, 2017, and on November 3, 2017, the Magistrate Judge recommending granting Defendants' motion in part and denying it in part. Defendants filed timely objections to the Report and Recommendation. Plaintiff filed no objections.

         II. Legal Standard

         A. Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge

         The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court. The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the responsibility to make a final determination remains with the Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261 (1976). The Court is charged with making a de novo determination of those portions of the Report and Recommendation to which specific objection is made. The Court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

         When a proper objection is made to a particular issue, "a district court is required to consider all arguments directed to that issue, regardless of whether they were raised before the magistrate." United States v. George, 971 F.2d 1113, 1118 (4th Cir. 1992). However, "[t]he district court's decision whether to consider additional evidence is committed to its discretion, and any refusal will be reviewed for abuse." Doe v. Chao, 306 F.3d 170, 183 & n.9 (4th Cir. 2002). "[A]ttempts to introduce new evidence after the magistrate judge has acted are disfavored, " though the district court may allow it "when a party offers sufficient reasons for so doing." Caldwell v. Jackson, 831 F.Supp.2d 911, 914 (M.D. N.C. 2010) (listing cases).

         B. Summary Judgment

         Summary judgment is appropriate if a party "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). In other words, summary judgment should be granted "only when it is clear that there is no dispute concerning either the facts of the controversy or the inferences to be drawn from those facts." Pulliam Inv. Co. v. Cameo Props., 810 F.2d 1282, 1286 (4th Cir. 1987). "In determining whether a genuine issue has been raised, the court must construe all inferences and ambiguities in favor of the nonmoving party." HealthSouth Rehab. Hosp. v. Am. Nat'l Red Cross, 101 F.3d 1005, 1008 (4th Cir. 1996). The party seeking summary judgment shoulders the initial burden of demonstrating to the court that there is no genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323(1986).

         Once the moving party has made this threshold demonstration, the non-moving party, to survive the motion for summary judgment, may not rest on the allegations averred in his pleadings. Id. at 324. Rather, the non-moving party must demonstrate that specific, material facts exist that give rise to a genuine issue. Id. Under this standard, "[c]onclusory or speculative allegations do not suffice, nor does a 'mere scintilla of evidence'" in support of the non-moving party's case. Thompson v. Potomac Elec. Power Co., 312 F.3d 645, 649 (4th Cir. 2002) (quoting Phillips v. CSX Transp, Inc., 190 F.3d 285, 287 (4th Cir. 1999)).

         III. Discussion

         A. Hostile ...


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