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Brooks-Mills v. Lexington Medical Center

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

March 26, 2019

Dorothy Mae Brooks-Mills, Plaintiff,
v.
Lexington Medical Center; Tod Augsburger, Defendants.

          ORDER AND OPINION

         Plaintiff Dorothy Mae Brooks-Mills filed this action against her former employer, Defendant Lexington Medical Center, and its president and chief executive officer, Tod Augsburger, alleging that she was subjected to (1) retaliation for engaging in protected activity and (2) discrimination because of her race, sex, age, and disability, all in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2000e-17, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101-12213, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621-634, and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. (ECF No. 79.)

         This matter is before the court on Defendants' Amended Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (ECF No. 81.) In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Rule 73.02(B)(2)(g) D.S.C., the matter was referred to United States Magistrate Judge Paige J. Gossett for pretrial handling. On October 12, 2018, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation in which she recommended that the court grant Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment as to all Plaintiff's claims. (ECF No. 93.) Plaintiff filed Objections to the Report and Recommendation, which are presently before the court. (ECF No. 95.) For the reasons set forth below, the court REJECTS the Magistrate Judge's recommendation, DENIES WITHOUT PREJUDICE Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, SUSTAINS Plaintiff's objection, and GRANTS Plaintiff's request for an extension of the scheduling order.

         I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND TO PENDING MOTION

         The facts of this matter are discussed in the Report and Recommendation. (See ECF No. 93.) The court concludes, upon its own careful review of the record, that the Magistrate Judge's factual summation is accurate and incorporates it by reference. The court will only reference herein additional facts viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff that are pertinent to the analysis of her claims.

         On October 26, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). (ECF No. 1 at 5.) In the Charge, Plaintiff alleged that she was discriminated against and suffered retaliation because of her race, color, gender/sex, and disability in violation of the ADA, Title VII, and the ADEA. (Id. at 3-4.) After receiving notice of the right to sue from the EEOC on or around April 14, 2017 (see ECF No.1-1), Plaintiff filed a pro se action in this court on July 13, 2017. (ECF No. 1.) Defendants answered the Complaint on October 20, 2017, denying its allegations. (ECF No. 25.)

         On October 23, 2017, the court entered a Scheduling Order. (ECF No. 27.) Pursuant to the Scheduling Order, discovery would end on February 20, 2018, and all dispositive motions were to be filed on or before March 19, 2018. (Id. at 1 ¶¶ 5, 6.) On March 8, 2018, Defendants filed a Motion for Extension of Time to File Dispositive Motions (ECF No. 46) requesting a new deadline of April 2, 2018, which the court granted. (See ECF No. 48.) However, Defendants did not file any dispositive motion on April 2, 2018. On April 3, 2018, the court issued an Order directing the parties to submit the status of the case, observing that “[a]s of the date of this order [April 3, 2018], no party has filed a potentially dispositive motion regarding the merits of this case.” (ECF No. 52.) After missing the extended April 2, 2018 deadline for dispositive motions set by the court, Defendants filed another Motion for Extension of Time to File Dispositive Motions (ECF No. 54), on April 3, 2018, asking to extend the dispositive motion deadline until April 9, 2018. The court granted Defendants' Motion without making a specified finding of excusable neglect. (ECF No. 55.)

         On April 9, 2018, Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 58.) On April 10, 2018, the court issued a Roseboro Order to Plaintiff, granting Plaintiff until May 11, 2018 to respond to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 59.) On April 26, 2018, counsel filed a Notice of Appearance (ECF No. 69) to represent Plaintiff in this matter. On May 11, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Amend/Correct her Complaint, a Motion to Amend the Scheduling Order, and a Motion to Stay Summary Judgment. (ECF Nos. 71, 72, 73.) On May 25, 2018, Defendants filed a Response in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Complaint and Motion to Amend Scheduling Order. (ECF No. 75.)

         On August 7, 2018, the court issued an Order granting Plaintiff's Motion to Amend the Complaint, directing the Plaintiff to immediately file her Amended Complaint, but denying her Motion to Amend the Scheduling Order. (ECF No. 78.) In granting Plaintiff's Motion to Amend the Complaint, the court found that “in the interest of justice, granting [] [P]laintiff leave to file[] an Amended Complaint is appropriate under Rule 15(a)(2).” (ECF No. 78 at 3.) In denying Plaintiff's Motion to Amend the Scheduling Order, the court observed that Plaintiff “has not demonstrated good cause to extend the scheduling order.” (Id. (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4)).) On August 8, 2018, Plaintiff filed her Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 79.)

         On August 14, 2018, Defendants filed an Amended Motion for Summary Judgment, asserting that they were entitled to judgment as a matter of law as to all of Plaintiff's claims. (ECF No. 81.) Plaintiff filed a Response Memorandum in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on August 28, 2018, to which Defendants filed a Reply Memorandum in Support of Summary Judgment on September 4, 2018. (ECF Nos. 85, 86.)

         In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civil Rule 73.02 D.S.C., the Magistrate Judge issued her Report and Recommendation on October 12, 2018, recommending that Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment be granted as to all of Plaintiff's claims. (ECF No. 93.) On October 17, 2018, Plaintiff filed Objections to the Report and Recommendation. (ECF No. 95.)

         II. JURISDICTION

         This court has jurisdiction over Plaintiff's Title VII claims via 28 U.S.C. § 1331, as the claims arise under a law of the United States, and also via 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3), which empowers district courts to hear claims “brought under” Title VII. Additionally, the court has jurisdiction over Plaintiff's ADA claims via 28 U.S.C. § 1331, as the claims arise under a law of the United States, and also via 42 U.S.C. §§ 12117 & 2000e-5(f)(3), which empower district courts to hear claims by “person[s] alleging discrimination on the basis of disability.” Finally, the court has jurisdiction over Plaintiff's ADEA claims via 28 U.S.C. § 1331, as they arise under a law of the United States, and also via 29 U.S.C. § 633(c), which statute empowers district courts to hear claims brought under the ADEA.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this court. The recommendation 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 reviews de novo only those portions of a magistrate judge's report and recommendation to which specific objections are filed, and reviews those portions which are not objected to - including those portions to which only “general and conclusory” objections have been made - for clear error. Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005); Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 200 (4th Cir. 1983); Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. ...


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