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Sanders v. Lowe's Home Centers, LLC

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

April 20, 2018

Eric Alan Sanders, Plaintiff,
v.
Lowe's Home Centers, LLC, Defendant.

          ORDER AND OPINION

         This matter is before the court on review of the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation (“Report”) (ECF No. 187), filed on January 31, 2018, recommending that the court grant Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 139) with regard to Plaintiff's federal law claims. Additionally, the Report recommends that the court should deny Plaintiff's Motion in Limine (ECF No. 148) as moot. For the reasons stated below, the court ACCEPTS the Report.[1]

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         The court concludes upon its own careful review of the record that the factual and procedural summation in the Report (ECF No. 187) is accurate, and the court adopts this summary as its own. The court will only recite herein facts pertinent to the court's review of the Report (ECF No. 187). On January 31, 2018, Magistrate Judge Paige J. Gossett filed the Report (ECF No. 187), and on February 16, 2018, Plaintiff timely filed an Objection (ECF No. 203). On February 28, 2018, Defendant replied. (ECF No. 214.)

         Plaintiff was discharged after Defendant mailed two (2) letters via certified and regular mail to Plaintiff in an attempt to establish whether he was returning to work, neither of which were answered by Plaintiff. (ECF No. 139-7 at 6-7.)[2] On June 12, 2015, because Plaintiff missed five (5) consecutive shifts without contacting his manager, Defendant treated his absenteeism as a voluntary resignation from his position. (Id. at 7.)

         II. JURISDICTION

         The court has jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claims via 28 U.S.C. § 1331, as they arise under laws of the United States. Plaintiff brings his claims pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq., and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq.[3]

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         a. Report and Recommendation

         The Magistrate Judge's Report is made in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(c) for the District of South Carolina. The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this court, which has no presumptive weight. The responsibility to make a final determination remains with this court. See Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). The court is charged with making a de novo determination of those portions of the Report to which specific objections are made. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2)-(3). 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.)

         b. Summary Judgment

         Summary judgment should be granted “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A fact is “material” if proof of its existence or nonexistence would affect the disposition of the case under the applicable law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986). A genuine question of material fact exists where, after reviewing the record as a whole, the court finds that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id. at 248.

         In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, a court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Perini Corp. v. Perini Constr., Inc., 915 F.2d 121, 124 (4th Cir. 1990) (citing Pignons S.A. De Mecanique v. Polaroid Corp., 657 F.2d 482, 486 (1st Cir. 1981)). The nonmoving party may not oppose a motion for summary judgment with mere allegations or denials of the movant's pleading, but instead must “set forth specific facts” demonstrating a genuine issue for trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986); Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252. All that is required is that “sufficient evidence supporting the claimed factual dispute be shown to require a jury or judge to resolve the parties' differing versions of the truth at trial.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249 (citing First Nat'l Bank of Arizona v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253 (1968)). “Mere unsupported speculation . . . is not enough to defeat a summary judgment motion.” Ennis v. Nat'l Ass'n of Bus. & Educ. Radio, Inc., 53 F.3d 55, 62 (4th Cir. 1995). “[T]he burden [to show no genuine issue of material fact] on the moving party may be discharged by ‘showing'-that is, pointing out to the district court-that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.” Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 325.

         “In [ ] a situation [where a party fails to make a showing sufficient to establish an essential element of their case, on which they will bear the burden of proof at trial], there can be ‘no genuine issue as to any material fact, ' since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial. The moving party is ‘entitled to a judgment as a matter of law' because the nonmoving party has failed to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of their case with respect to which she has the burden of proof.” Id. at 322-23.

         IV. ANALYSIS

         Plaintiff specifically objects to the Report on the basis that the Magistrate Judge did not have jurisdiction to file the Report because he had appealed a Text Order by the Magistrate Judge (ECF No. 158). (ECF No. 203 at 12.) The Magistrate Judge's Text Order (ECF No. 158) terminated as moot Plaintiff's Motion for Protective Order and granted Plaintiff's Motion for an Extension of Time to Respond to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 139). (ECF No. 149.)[4] However, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit denied Plaintiff's appeal for lack of jurisdiction after Plaintiff had already filed his objections to the Report. (ECF No. 223 at 3.) Therefore, the court will not address this objection. Plaintiff also specifically objects to the Magistrate ...


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