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Verner v. Serco, Inc.

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

March 12, 2018

Marcius Varner, Plaintiff,
v.
SERCO, Inc., Defendant.

          ORDER

          DAVID C. NORTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the court on United States Magistrate Judge Marchant Bristow's report and recommendation ("R&R"), ECF No. 29, that the court grant in part and deny in part defendant SERCO, Inc.'s motion for summary judgment, ECF No. 26, granting it with respect to plaintiff Marcius Varner's first and second causes of action and denying it as to his third cause of action. The R&R further recommends that the court: (1) dismiss the first and second causes of action with prejudice; and (2) decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the third cause of action and dismiss it without prejudice in order to allow plaintiff to pursue this claim in state court.

         For the reasons set forth below, the court adopts in part and rejects in part the R&R: (1) adopting its recommendation to grant summary judgment on the first and second causes of action and dismiss those claims with prejudice; (2) adopting its recommendation to deny summary judgment on the third cause of action; but (3) rejecting its recommendation to decline supplemental jurisdiction and dismiss without prejudice the third cause of action. Accordingly, the court grants in part and denies in part defendant's motion for summary judgment, ECF No. 26, dismissing the first and second causes of action with prejudice.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         This case arises out of the alleged discrimination and retaliation against plaintiff while employed as a warehouse associate by defendant. R&R 2. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that defendant: (1) discriminated against him on the basis of his disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101-12213, ("ADA"); (2) violated his rights under the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993, 29 U.S.C. §§ 2601-2654, ("FMLA"); and (3) retaliated against him for filing a workers' compensation claim in violation of S.C. Code § 42-1-80. Compl. ¶¶ 43-65. The R&R details the salient facts of the case, and because it is unnecessary to recapitulate the pleadings and exhibits constituting the factual record, this order dispenses with a recitation thereof. Like the R&R, the court construes the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party in considering the motion for summary judgment.

         B. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff initiated this action in federal court on June 29, 2016. ECF No. 1. Per the court's scheduling order, the deadline for discovery expired on April 7, 2017. ECF No. 15. On July 14, 2017, defendant filed the instant motion for summary judgment as to all causes of action. On August 11, 2017, plaintiff filed a response in opposition, ECF No. 27, and on August 18, 2017, defendant filed a reply thereto, ECF No. 28.

         On October 27, 2017, the magistrate judge issued the R&R, recommending that the court grant in part and deny in part defendant's motion for summary judgment, granting it as to the federal causes of action, denying it as to the state law cause of action, but further recommending refusal to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the latter.

         The R&R specifically advised the parties of the procedure for filing objections thereto and the consequences if they failed to do so. R&R 31-32. On November 22, 2017, after receiving an extension, both parties timely filed objections to the R&R, ECF Nos. 32, 33, and on December 6, 2017, both parties filed replies, ECF Nos. 34, 35. The matter is now ripe for the court's review.

         II. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

         A. R&R

         The magistrate judge makes only a recommendation to the court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270 (1976). The recommendation carries no presumptive weight, and the responsibility to make a final determination remains with the court. Id. at 270-71. The court may "accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge ... or recommit the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The court is charged with making a de novo determination of any portion of the R&R to which a specific objection is made. Id. However, in the absence of a timely filed, specific objection, the court reviews the R&R only for clear error. Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co.. 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005) (citation omitted). Furthermore, "[a] party's general objections are not sufficient to challenge a magistrate judge's findings." Greene v. Quest Diagnostics Clinical Labs., Inc.. 455 F.Supp.2d 483, 488 (D.S.C. 2006) (citation omitted). When a party's objections are directed to strictly legal issues "and no factual issues are challenged, de novo review of the record may be dispensed with." Orpiano v. Johnson. 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982) (citation omitted). Analogously, de novo review is unnecessary when a party makes general and conclusory objections without directing a court's attention to a specific error in the magistrate judge's proposed findings. Id. Finally, the failure to file specific, written objections to the R&R results in a party's waiver of the right to appeal from the judgment of the district court based upon such recommendation. United States v. Schronce. 727 F.2d 91, 94 (4th Cir. 1984).

         B. ...


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