United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division
Eugene P. Harrison, a/k/a Eugene Paul Harrison, Sr., Plaintiff,
Jennifer C. Kennedy, HCV Senior Specialist Individually and/or in her Official Capacity as an Employee of the Sumter Housing Authority, Defendants.
ORDER AND OPINION
RICHARD MARK GERGEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on the Report and Recommendation
("R & R") of the Magistrate Judge (Dkt. No. 49)
recommending that the Court grant Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment (Dkt. No. 34). Plaintiff filed objections to
the R & R. (Dkt. Nos. 51.) For the reasons set forth
below, the Court adopts in part and rejects in part the R
& R and grants in part and denies in part summary
alleges that he was unlawfully denied housing under the
Housing Choice Voucher Program, and discriminated against
based on a disability. Plaintiff alleges that on October 18,
2017, he received a Section 8 Choice Housing Voucher. (Dkt.
No. 1.) The voucher contained a statement that a copy of the
lease and a request for tenancy approval ("RFTA")
must be given to the agency by the expiration date for the
voucher. (Dkt. No. 34-3 at 9 - 10.) The voucher also stated
it would expire on December 17, 2017, unless the family
requested an extension and the SHA granted the extension.
(Id. at 11.) Plaintiff alleges that he returned the
signed RFTA on December 16, 2017, but that Defendant Jennifer
Kennedy, a case worker for the Sumter Housing Authority
("SHA") refused to approve his voucher. (Dkt. No.
1.) In support of their motion for summary judgment,
Defendant included the last page of a document with
Plaintiffs signature which allegedly was his RFTA. (Dkt. Nos.
34 at ¶ 12; 34-3 at 15.) The document has a stamped time
of December 18, 2017 at 12:23pm, after his voucher had
expired. (Id.) There is no evidence that Plaintiff
informed SHA or Defendant of a disability, and the record
contains forms for housing accommodations signed by Plaintiff
where he failed to identify himself or anyone in his family
as having a disability or need for an accommodation. (Dkt.
No. 34-3 at 17 - 18.)
moved for summary judgment, which Plaintiff opposed. (Dkt.
Nos. 34, 37.) The Magistrate Judge recommended granting
Defendant's motion for summary judgment, and Plaintiff
filed objections. (Dkt. Nos. 49, 51.)
prevail on a motion for summary judgment, the movant must
demonstrate that there is no genuine issue of any material
fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter
of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The party seeking summary
judgment has the burden of identifying the portions of the
"pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, any
admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,
which show there is no genuine issue as to any material fact
and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter
of law." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 322 (1986). The Court will construe all inferences and
ambiguities against the movant and in favor of the non-moving
party. U.S. v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655
(1962). The existence of a mere scintilla of evidence in
support of the non-moving party's position is
insufficient to withstand a motion for summary judgment.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252
(1986). However, an issue of material fact is genuine if the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict in favor of the non-movant. Id. at 257.
the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56(c), its
opponent must do more than simply show that there is some
metaphysical doubt as to the material facts."
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). "In the language of the Rule,
the nonmoving party must come forward with 'specific
facts showing that there is a genuine issue for
trial.'" Id. at 587. "Where the record
taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to
find for the non-moving party, there is no 'genuine issue
for trial.'" Id. (quoting First
Nat'l Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S.
253, 289 (1968)).
Pro Se Pleadings
Court liberally construes complaints filed by pro se
litigants to allow the development of a potentially
meritorious case. See Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319
(1972); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972). The
requirement of liberal construction does not mean that the
Court can ignore a clear failure in the pleadings to allege
facts which set forth a viable claim, nor can the Court
assume the existence of a genuine issue of material fact
where none exists. See Weller v. Dep 't of Social
Services, 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990).
Report and Recommendation
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court.
The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the
responsibility for making a final determination remains with
this Court. See Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270
- 71 (1976). This Court is charged with making a de
novo determination of those portions of the Report and
Recommendation to which specific objection is made.
Additionally, the Court may "accept, reject, or modify,
in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by
the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). In
the absence of any specific objections, "a district
court need not conduct a de novo review, but instead
must only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the
face of the record in order to accept the
recommendation." See Diamond v. Colonial Life &
Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005).
Plaintiff filed objections and the R & R is reviewed