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Holmes v. Becker

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

March 29, 2019

Cynthia Holmes, Plaintiff,
v.
James Y. Becker, M.M. Caskey, Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A., and Mikell R. Scarborough, Defendants.

          ORDER

          HONORABLE BRUCE H. HENDRICKS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court upon Plaintiff Cynthia Holmes (“Holmes” or “Plaintiff”) pro se complaint against Defendants James Y. Becker (“Becker”); M.M. Caskey (“Caskey”); Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A. (“HSB”); and Mikell R. Scarborough (“Scarborough”). Plaintiff's original complaint was only five pages, but her second amended complaint consists of a 54-page complaint with 87 pages of attached exhibits, and Plaintiff alleges 12 causes of action based on, inter alia, the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et seq., (“FDCPA”); the South Carolina Consumer Protection Code, SC Code Ann. § 37-5-101, et seq.; and the United States Constitution.

         On July 11, 2018, Defendants Becker, Caskey, and HSB filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. On August 14, 2018, Defendant Scarborough also filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12. Plaintiff filed responses in opposition to Defendants' motions, and Defendants filed replies. In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and (B) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2) (D.S.C.), the matter was referred to a United States Magistrate Judge for preliminary review.

         On October 31, 2018, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation (“Report”) outlining the issues and recommending that the Court grant Defendants' motions. Plaintiff filed a motion for extension of time to file objections along with a motion to stay pending the resolution of a prior interlocutory appeal to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court granted Plaintiffs' motion for an extension of time, instructing her to file her objections by December 13, 2018, but denied her motion to stay on December 11, 2018. The Court also granted Plaintiff additional time to file objections, instructing her to file them on or before January 2, 2019.

         On December 27, 2018, Plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration with respect to the Court's order denying her motion to stay, and on January 2, 2019, Plaintiff filed objections to the Magistrate Judge's Report. Defendants have filed responses to Plaintiff's motion to reconsider and to Plaintiff's objections, and Plaintiff has filed a reply and supplemental affidavit. For the reasons set forth herein, the Court denies Plaintiff's motion to reconsider and finds Plaintiff's objections wholly without merit. Accordingly, the Court adopts the Magistrate Judge's Report and grants Defendants' motions to dismiss as outlined herein.

         STANDARDS OF REVIEW

         I. The Magistrate Judge's Report

         The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the Court. The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the responsibility to make a final determination remains with the Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261 (1976). The Court is charged with making a de novo determination only of those portions of the Report to which specific objections are made, and the Court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge, or recommit the matter to the Magistrate Judge with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). In the absence of specific objections, the Court reviews the matter only for clear error. See Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005) (stating that “in the absence of a timely filed objection, 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.'”) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 72 advisory committee's note).

         II. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a pleading must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). As the Supreme Court held in Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, the pleading standard set forth in Rule 8 “does not require ‘detailed factual allegations,' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Thus, “[a] pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'” Id. “Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

         A motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) examines the legal sufficiency of the facts alleged on the face of a plaintiff's complaint. Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The “complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.' ” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). A claim is facially plausible when the factual content allows the court to reasonably infer that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Id. When considering a motion to dismiss, the court must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007).

         In reviewing a Rule 12(b) motion, a court may consider, in addition to the factual allegations of the complaint, any document that is “integral to and explicitly relied on in the complaint.” Phillips v. LCI International, Inc., 190 F.3d 609, 618 (4th Cir. 1999); Olson v. Midland Funding, LLC, 578 Fed.Appx. 248, 250 (4th Cir. 2014) (“In considering a Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) motion, a court may consider the complaint itself and any documents that are attached to it . . . .”) (internal citations omitted).

         ANALYSIS

         I. Plaintiff's ...


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