United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division
ORDER ADOPTING THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION,
GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS, AND DENYING
PLAINTIFF'S REQUEST TO AMEND
GEIGER LEWIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Leroy Pearson (Pearson) filed this job discrimination action
against Defendant Owens Electric Steel Company of South
Carolina (Owen Electric), his former employer. The matter is
before the Court for review of the Report and Recommendation
of the United States Magistrate Judge suggesting Owen
Electric's motion to dismiss be granted. The Magistrate
Judge prepared the Report in accordance with 28 U.S.C. §
636 and Local Civil Rule 73.02 for the District of South
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court.
The recommendation has no presumptive weight. The
responsibility to make a final determination remains with the
Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270 (1976).
The Court is charged with making a de novo determination of
those portions of the Report to which specific objection is
made, and the Court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole
or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge or
recommit the matter with instructions. 28 U.S.C. §
Magistrate Judge filed the Report on May 14, 2018, Pearson
filed his objections on May 22, 2018, and Owen Electric filed
its reply on May 31, 2018. Having carefully reviewed the
objections, the Court holds them to be without merit. It will
therefore enter judgment accordingly.
of 2017, Pearson filed a lawsuit against Owen Electric
claiming a violation of the federal Family Medical Leave Act
(FMLA) and the state workers' compensation statute.
See Pearson v. Owen Electric Steel Co. of S.C., C/A
No. 3:17-1943-MBS (Pearson I). The allegations in Pearson I
arise from an injury Pearson sustained in June of 2016 and
Owen Electric's employment actions following his injury.
On January 12, 2018, Judge Seymour dismissed Pearson I with
lawsuit, Pearson II, is based on Owens Electric's alleged
violations of the American Disabilities Act (ADA). The
Magistrate Judge recommends Owen Electric's motion to
dismiss be granted on the basis this lawsuit is barred by the
doctrine of res judicata.
the doctrine of res judicata to be applicable, there must be:
(1) a final judgment on the merits in a prior suit; (2) an
identity of the cause of action in both the earlier and the
later suit; and (3) an identity of parties or their privies
in the two suits.” Pueschel v. United States,
369 F.3d 345, 354-55 (4th Cir. 2004). “Under the
doctrine of res judicata, or claim preclusion, a final
judgment on the merits of an action precludes the parties or
their privies from relitigating issues that were or could
have been raised in that action.” Id. at 354
(citation omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted)
posits two specific objections to the Report. First, he
argues the Magistrate Judge erred in suggesting he could have
brought his ADA claim when he brought his FMLA claim.
Objections 1. According to Pearson, he “did not receive
his right-to-sue letter on his ADA claim from the EEOC until
after [Judge Seymour] dismissed Pearson I with prejudice, and
therefore could not bring his ADA claim in conjunction with
his claim under Pearson I.” Id. The Court is
Magistrate Judge recognized, “Pearson's Complaint
in Pearson II shows that his ADA claims are based on the same
transaction or series of transactions as his claims in
Pearson I-his injury in June 2016 and [Owens Electric's]
subsequent actions with regard to his employment.”
Report 4. In fact, Pearson concedes the events in the Pearson
I and Pearson II “occurred during a similar time
period.” Pearson's Response to Owen Electric's
Motion to Dismiss 6.
Davis v. Dallas Area Rapid Transit, 383 F.3d 309
(5th Cir. 2004), the Fifth Circuit was presented with a
similar set of facts. According to the Davis court,
“the claims precluded in Davis II were so connected in
time and space with the claims in Davis I, that they could
have, and should have, been brought in the first action to
create a single, convenient trial unit.” Id.
Davis court continued: “a plaintiff who brings
a Title VII action and files administrative claims with the
EEOC must still comply with general rules governing federal
litigation respecting other potentially viable claims.”
Id. at 316 (citation omitted) (internal quotation
marks omitted). “Because the barred claims arose from
the same nucleus of operative fact as the claims in Davis I
and they predate that action, Appellants were on notice to
include those claims in Davis I.” Id.
“To prevent their claims from being precluded,
Appellants could have requested a stay in Davis I until they
received their letters [to sue from the EEOC].”
the Court is not bound by Davis, it finds its
reasoning persuasive; and rejects Pearson's claims it is
legally distinguishable from this matter. The claims Pearson
brings in Pearson II were available to him when he filed
Pearson I. All the facts Pearson relies on to support his ADA
claim had already occurred when he filed Pearson I. He could
have sought a stay in Pearson I while waiting to receive his
right-to-sue letter from the EEOC to pursue his ADA claim.
Therefore, the Court will overrule Pearson's first
Pearson objects to the Magistrate Judge's opinion he
failed to establish his “ADA claim is a different cause
of action than his previous FMLA claim.” Objections 3.
The Court is unable to agree with Pearson.
argues his claims in Pearson II are distinguishable from
Pearson I inasmuch as they involve neither the same type of
wrongdoing, the same category of adverse-employment action,
nor the same type of injuries. Objections 3-4. But, these
differences are immaterial for the purpose of ...