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James v. Southeastern Grocers LLC

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

November 13, 2019

Willie Frank James, Jr., Plaintiff,
v.
Southeastern Grocers, LLC, Dan Faketty, Jennifer Powers, Defendants.

          ORDER

          Richard Mark Gergel United States District Court Judge

         This matter is before the Court on the Report and Recommendation ("R & R") of the Magistrate Judge (Dkt. No. 93) recommending that the Court deny Defendant Southeastern Grocers LLC's Motion to Dismiss for failure to comply with discovery requirements (Dkt. No. 85). For the reasons set forth below, the Court adopts the R & R as the order of the Court, denies Defendant's motion at this time, orders Plaintiff to respond to Defendant's First Request for Document Production, and extends the discovery and dispositive Motion deadlines.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff filed this employment action on April 16, 2018, alleging that his former employer, Defendant Southeastern Grocers LLC, unlawfully subjected him to unequal terms of employment and terminated him because of race in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"). (Dkt. No. I.)[1] Plaintiff is proceedingpro se and in forma pauperis. (Dkt. No. 19.) On July 15, 2019, this Court adopted a prior R & R from the Magistrate Judge and granted in part a motion for sanctions against Plaintiff for repeated failures to comply with discovery requirements. (Dkt. No. 76.) Plaintiff complied with the sanctions order, and remitted payment of $250 to Defendant. (Dkt. No. 80.)

         Discovery closed on September 23, 2019. (Dkt. No. 81.) Shortly thereafter, Defendant again moved on October 2, 2019 for dismissal and sanctions, arguing that Plaintiff continued to fail to comply with discovery obligations. (Dkt. No. 85.) The Magistrate Judge, reviewing the record and outstanding discovery in detail, found that while Plaintiff had failed to comply with certain requirements, such as fully responding to Defendant's first request for document productions, significant progress nonetheless had been made since the Court's prior award of sanctions, such as Plaintiff appearing for his deposition and providing certain discovery materials. (Dkt. No. 93.) The Magistrate Judge therefore issued an R & R recommending that the Court deny Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, extend relevant deadlines, and order Plaintiff to fully respond to Defendant's first request for document productions within fourteen days. (Id.) Notably, the Magistrate Judge also included a stern warning for Plaintiff that any continued failure to comply with discovery obligations or order of this Court may result in dismissal of his case with prejudice. (Id. at 10 - 11.) No party has filed objections.

         II. Legal Standard

         A. Report and Recommendation

         The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court. The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the responsibility for making a final determination remains with this Court. See Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270 - 71 (1976). This Court is charged with making a de novo determination of those portions of the Report and Recommendation to which specific objection is made. Additionally, the Court may "accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). In the absence of any specific objections, "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." See Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005). No Party filed objections and the R & R is reviewed for clear error.

         B. Sanctions

         Rules 37 and 41 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are part of a court's "comprehensive arsenal of Federal Rules and statutes to protect themselves from abuse." LaFleur v. Dollar Tree Stores, Inc., No. 2:12-CV-00363, 2014 WL 37662, at *3 (E.D. Va. Jan. 3, 2014) citing Chambers v. NASCO, Inc., 501 U.S. 32, 62 (1991). Under Rule 37, a court must determine:

(1) whether the non-complying party acted in bad faith, (2) the amount of prejudice that noncompliance caused the adversary, (3) the need for deterrence of the particular sort of non-compliance, and (4) whether less drastic sanctions would have been effective.

Anderson v. Found, for Advancement, Educ. & Employment of Am. Indians, 155 F.3d 500, 504 (4th Cir. 1998). A court must apply a similar four-part test when determining whether to dismiss under Rule 41:

(1) the plaintiffs degree of personal responsibility; (2) the amount of prejudice caused the defendant; (3) the presence of a drawn out history of deliberately proceeding in a dilatory fashion; and (4) the effectiveness of sanctions less drastic than dismissal.

Hillig v. Comm'r 916 F.2d 171, 174 (4th Cir. 1990). The standard for Rules 37 and 41 is "virtually the same." Carter v. Univ. of W. Virginia Sys., Bd. of Trustees,23 ...


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