United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Aiken Division
Reginald D. Evans, Plaintiff,
Exel Inc., Defendant.
ORDER AND OPINION
RICHARD MARK GERGEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on the Report and Recommendation
of the Magistrate Judge, recommending that Defendant's
motion to dismiss, which the Court converted into a motion
for summary judgment, be granted. For the reasons set forth
below, the Court adopts the Report and Recommendation and
grants summary judgment for Defendant.
formerly a forklift operator employed by Defendant, suffered
a workplace injury on February 21, 2015. On January 22, 2016,
Plaintiff filed an employment discrimination action against
Defendant, asserting claims of discrimination based on age
and disability. Evans v. Exel Inc., No.
0:16-cv-00215-TLW-JDA (D.S.C.). On May 16, 2016, the South
Carolina Workers' Compensation Commission found Plaintiff
had a "permanent partial disability." (Dkt. No.
81-1 ¶ 10.) On August 12, 2016, Plaintiff, represented
by counsel, settled his employment discrimination claims
against Defendant. (Dkt. No. 95-2 at 3-8.) Plaintiff agreed
to release Defendant from any claims arising from or relating
to his employment with Defendant in consideration of $10,
1, 2017, Plaintiff, now proceeding pro se, filed an
amended complaint in the present action, which commenced as
an action against the Commissioner of Social Security for
disabilty benefits. The amended complaint asserts ERISA
claims against defendant . Specifically, Plaintiff alleges
that his claim for long-term disability benefits was
improperly denied, that Defendant did not pay social security
payroll taxes while Plaintiff was on medical leave, and that
Defendant improperly terminated Plaintiffs medical insurance.
(See Dkt. No. 81-1.) Defendant moved to dismiss
based on the release contained in the settlement agreement.
After notice to the parties, the Court converted the motion
to dismiss to a motion for summary judgment. (See
Dkt. No. 101). The Magistrate Judge recommended granting the
converted motion for summary judgment on September 29, 2017.
Plaintiff filed timely objections to the Report and
Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge
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).
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, "[f]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).
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.
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)).