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Dinda v. CSC Government Solutions LLC

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

July 19, 2019

PAUL DINDA, Plaintiff,
v.
CSC GOVERNMENT SOLUTIONS LLC and CSRA LLC, Defendants.

          ORDER

          DAVID C. NORTON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the court on United States Magistrate Judge Mary Gordon Baker's report and recommendation (“R&R”), ECF No. 44, that the court grant CSC Government Solutions, LLC (“CSC”), and CSRA LLC's (“CRSA”) (together, “defendants”) motion for summary judgment, ECF No. 35. For the reasons set forth below, the court adopts the R&R and grants defendants' motion for summary judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The facts of this case are set forth fully in the R&R, and as such, the court refrains from a lengthy recitation here. In summary, this case arises out of plaintiff Paul Dinda's (“Dinda”) employment with CSC. Dinda was hired by CSC as a Software Engineer Senior Professional in March 2012. ECF No. 35-4, Dinda Dep. 34:25. At the time he began his employment, Dinda was fifty-six years old and had previously been diagnosed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) with keratoconus, a vision disorder. ECF No. 39-3, EEOC at 8. Sometime after beginning work at CSC, the government team merged with SRA International and formed CRSA, making Dinda an employee of CRSA. ECF No. 23 ¶ 14, ECF No. 35 at 4. In his position at CRSA, Dinda consistently worked on contracts with the VA. ECF No. 35-4, Dinda Dep. 38:24-39:1.

         Eventually, in December 2015, CRSA entered into a subcontract with Technatomy Corporation (“Technatomy”). Under this agreement, Technatomy reserved the right to approve or deny the assignment of any CSRA employees to the project. ECF No. 35-2, Ward Dep. Ex. 5. Dinda worked on this project, under the supervision of Lisa Ward (“Ward”) starting in January 2016. Id. 66:1-6. The team serving under Ward involved various other individuals, including Megan Kotos (“Kotos”), Technatomy Senior Test Lead; Jennifer Givens (“Givens”), CSRA Automation Test Lead; Deborah Gillespie, CSRA Tester and plaintiff's principal subordinate; and Eliberto Marquez, VA Project Manager. ECF No. 35-3, Kotos Dep. 13:1; ECF No. 35-2, Ward Dep. 48:10-11; ECF No. 35-4, Dinda Dep. 50:6-8.

         For this project, Dinda reported to Kotos, primarily communicating with her via electronic means, as he worked remotely. ECF No. 35-3, Kotos Dep. 111:8-16. Dinda claims that he and Kotos did not always get along and that he voiced his concerns to his supervisor about their working relationship. ECF No. 35-4, Dinda Dep. 92:2-4. Kotos also regarded much of her communication from Dinda as disrespectful and antagonistic, which resulted in her making several complaints about Dinda to his supervisor, Ward. ECF No. 35-3, Kotos Dep. Ex. 18. These complaints varied in specifics, but primarily related to Dinda's failure to attend meetings and his lack of open communication. Issues prevailed between Dinda and his employer, particularly as more complaints about his performance were reported by CRSA's client, Technatomy, in the following months. ECF No. 35-2, Ward Dep. 56:19-23. As a result of these complaints, Ward met with Dinda at least twice between January 2016 and June 2016 to discuss his workplace behavior and attitude. ECF No. 35-2, Ward Dep. 51:16-53:1. The first of these sessions occurred on an unspecified date in February 2016, Id. 52:6-9, and the second conversation occurred on March 16, 2016, id. 30:13-24. During these meetings, Dinda specifically agreed to work on improving his relationship with Kotos. ECF No. 35-4, Dinda Dep. 148:16-23.

         In April 2016, Dinda complained to Ward of Kotos' treatment. Upon reviewing emails between Dinda and Kotos, Ward concluded that Kotos' attitude was a byproduct of Dinda's insubordination and disrespect. ECF No. 35-2, Ward Dep. 52:12-17. In May 2016, Technatomy formally requested that Dinda be removed from their project, citing his resistance to and failure to meet their requests. Id. 56:22. These issues culminated in Dinda's suspension from CSRA in May 2016, pending the outcome of an employee relations investigation. Upon the conclusion of this investigation, Dinda was terminated from his position with CSRA on June 22, 2016. ECF No. 39-9, Letters at 2.

         On July 12, 2016, Dinda filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). ECF No. 39-3, EEOC at 1. The EEOC replied in August 2017, dismissing Dinda's charge and issuing a notice of right to sue. ECF No. 7-3, EEOC Dismissal. The instant case was then filed on November 21, 2017. ECF No. 1. Dinda amended his complaint on February 21, 2018, bringing the following claims: (1) disability discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”); (2) sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”); (3) age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”); (4) hostile work environment based on Dinda's disability, sex and age; and (5) retaliation in violation of the ADA, Title VII, and the ADEA.[1] ECF No. 23. On December 21, 2018, defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, ECF No. 35, to which Dinda responded on January 20, 2019, ECF No. 39. On March 21, 2019, Magistrate Judge Mary Gordon Baker filed a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) recommending that the court grant the motion for summary judgment on each of Dinda's claims. ECF No. 43. On April 2, 2019, Dinda filed his objections to the R&R, ECF No. 45, and on April 16, 2019, defendants filed their response, ECF No. 46.

         II. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

         A. Report and Recommendation

         The magistrate judge makes only a recommendation to the court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270 (1976). The recommendation carries no presumptive weight, and the responsibility to make a final determination remains with the court. Id. at 270-71. The court may “accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge . . . or recommit the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The court is charged with making a de novo determination of any portion of the R&R to which a specific objection is made. Id. However, de novo review is unnecessary when a party makes general and conclusory objections without directing a court's attention to a specific error in the magistrate judge's proposed findings. Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). In the absence of a specific objection, the court reviews the R&R only for clear error. Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005) (citation omitted). “A finding is ‘clearly erroneous' when although there is evidence to support it, the reviewing court on the entire evidence is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.” United States v. U.S. Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. 364, 395 (1948).

         B. Summary Judgment

         Summary judgment shall be granted if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). “By its very terms, this standard provides that 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). “Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.” Id. at 248. “[S]ummary judgment will not lie if the dispute about a material fact is ‘genuine,' that is, if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id. “[A]t the summary judgment stage the judge's function is not himself to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial.” Id. at 249. The court should view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all inferences in its favor. Id. at 255.

         III. DISCUSSION

         Dinda's objections to the R&R are disorganized, confusing, and incoherent at times[2] but seem to claim that the R&R improperly viewed the facts in the light most favorable to defendants, not to Dinda. The court has difficulty determining exactly which facts Dinda takes issue with and in relation to which claim. Dinda enumerates several “facts” without any context to inform the court whether these are facts from the R&R to which Dinda objects or whether they are the facts that Dinda now wishes this court to accept as true. ECF No. 45 at 7-9. Dinda then enumerates several “direct fact differences” but again fails to explain the impact each of these fact differences would have on the R&R's conclusions. Id. at 9-11. Rather, Dinda summarily concludes that “[t]he facts as presented by the Defendant fail to meet the elements of the law” and that “[i]t is clear from the Plaintiff's statement of facts there is a genuine issue of material fact to all of the issues as presented by the Defendant.” Id. at 12.

         The court reviews the R&R's recommendations and Dinda's objections as to each claim and grants summary judgment on each of them.

         A. ...


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