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Dodson v. Conway Hospital Inc.

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

March 31, 2019

Maureen Dodson, Plaintiff,
Conway Hospital, Inc., d/b/a Conway Medical Center, Defendant.



         This employment case was originally filed in the Court of Common Pleas for Horry County, South Carolina. Plaintiff Maureen Dodson ("Dodson") has alleged claims for violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. § 621, et seq., and violation of the South Carolina Human Affairs Law ("SCHAL"). Defendant Conway Hospital, Inc. ("Conway Hospital") removed the case to this Court on the basis of federal question jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1441, on July 13, 2017.

         Pending before the Court is Conway Hospital's [ECF No. 22] motion for summary judgment. This matter is before the Court with the Report and Recommendation ("R&R") [ECF No. 54] of Magistrate Judge Thomas E. Rogers, III filed on January 29, 2019.[1] The Magistrate Judge recommended that Conway Hospital's motion for summary judgment be granted and this case dismissed in its entirety. Dodson filed objections to the Report and Recommendation on February 12, 2019. Conway Hospital filed a Reply on February 25, 2019.

         Factual Background

         The factual background was accurately set forth in the Magistrate Judge's R&R and neither party has objected to the R&R's statement of the facts. Accordingly, the Court adopts and incorporates the R&R's statement of facts without objection.

         To briefly summarize, Dodson began her employment with Conway Hospital as an occupational therapist/certified hand therapist in 2009 at the age of 55. On May 7, 2016, Dodson filed a Charge of Discrimination with the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission ("SHAC") and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Dodson's first charge of discrimination alleged age discrimination based on the discontinuation of her benefits and the denial of a promotion from part-time to full-time on March 21, 2016. SHAC issued a Dismissal and Right to Sue Notice on July 23, 2016, and the EEOC issued its Dismissal and Right to Sue Notice on August 24, 2016. Upon receipt of the right to sue letter from the EEOC, Dodson had ninety days within which to file a civil action raising federal discrimination claims. Dodson did not initiate a civil action within ninety days of receipt of her Right to Sue Notice.

         On January 13, 2017, Dodson filed a second Charge of Discrimination with SHAC and the EEOC alleging age discrimination and retaliation based on her loss of hours. Dodson stated in her charge that "[a]bout four or five months ago the need for Hand Therapy care began to decrease. Rather than lay off Aaron Hardee, 29, who was most recently hired and restoring me to additional hours, my patients have been assigned to Mr. Hardee resulting in a significant loss of hours to me." [Second Charge of Discrimination, ECF NO. 55-5]. Dodson received a Right to Sue Notice dated April 4, 2017.

         Dodson filed the present action on May 23, 2017.

         Standard of Review

         The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the 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, 270-71 (1976). The Court is charged with making a de novo determination of those portions of the R & R 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 to the Magistrate Judge with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

         The right to de novo review may be waived by the failure to file timely objections. Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). The Court need not conduct a de novo review when a party makes only “general and conclusory objections that do not direct the [C]ourt to a specific error in the [M]agistrate's proposed findings and recommendations.” Id. Moreover, in the absence of objections to the R & R, the Court is not required to give any explanation for adopting the recommendation. Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199 (4th Cir. 1983). However, in the absence of objections, the Court must “‘satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation.'” Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 72 advisory committee's note).

         Summary Judgment Standard

          “The court shall grant summary judgment 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) (2010). “A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by: (A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record . . .; or (B) showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1).

         When no genuine issue of any material fact exists, summary judgment is appropriate. See Shealy v. Winston, 929 F.2d 1009, 1011 (4th Cir. 1991). The facts and inferences to be drawn from the evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Id. However, "the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986).

         "Once the moving party has met [its] burden, the nonmoving party must come forward with some evidence beyond the mere allegations contained in the pleadings to show that there is a genuine issue for trial." Baber v. Hospital Corp. of Am., 977 F.2d 872, 874-75 (4th Cir. 1992). The nonmoving party may not rely on beliefs, conjecture, unsupported speculation, or conclusory allegations to defeat a motion for summary judgment. See Baber, 977 F.2d at 875. Rather, the nonmoving party is required to submit evidence of specific facts by way of affidavits, depositions, interrogatories, ...

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