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Barnwell v. Magellan Health Inc.

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

December 2, 2019

Janice Barnwell, Plaintiff,
Magellan Health, Inc.; Magellan Health Services, Inc.; Magellan Healthcare, Inc.; The Magellan Healthcare Group, LLC; Douglas Foita, Regional Supervisor; Jennifer Friedrich, Regional Director; Barry Morgan Smith, CEO; Cheryl Simms, Behavioral Specialist of Marine Corps Community Service; Honorable Richard Spencer, Secretary of Navy; United States Marine Corps; Defendants.


          Richard Mark Gergel United States District Judge

         Before the Court is the Report and Recommendation ("R & R") of the Magistrate Judge (Dkt. No. 67) recommending the Court grant in part, deny in part Defendants' motions to dismiss. For the reasons set forth below, the Court adopts R & R as the order of the Court and dismisses part of Plaintiff s complaint.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff, a pro se individual, filed the instant action asserting claims of discrimination against Defendants. Plaintiff is a former employee of Defendant Magellan Health, Inc. Plaintiff alleges she is an African-American female who is over the age of forty. In her first and second causes of action, she asserts Defendants discriminated against her on the basis of race and sex, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1965, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. (Dkt. No. 1 at 14-15.) In her third cause of action, Plaintiff alleges she was discriminated against due to her age in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. § 626, et seq. (Id. at 15.) In her fourth cause of action, she alleges she was retaliated against in violation U.S.C. § 1981 and Title VII. (Id. at 15-16.) Multiple defendants filed motions to dismiss Plaintiffs claims.

         Defendants Magellan Health, Inc., Magellan Health Services, Inc. and Magellan Healthcare, Inc. ("Magellan Defendants") filed a partial motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). (Dkt. No. 30.) Defendant Barry Morgan Smith filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). (Dkt. No. 39.) Defendants Richard Spencer and the United States Marine Corps filed a motion to dismiss and/or in the alternative motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. No. 46.) Defendants Douglas Foita and Jennifer Friedrich filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(5). (Dkt. Nos. 54.) Defendant Douglas Foita filed a separate motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(5) and 12(b)(6) (Dkt. No. 57.)

         II. Legal Standard

         A. Report and Recommendation

         The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court that has no presumptive weight. The responsibility to make a final determination remains with the Court. See Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). 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). This Court must make a de novo determination of those portions of the R & R Plaintiff specifically objects. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2). Where Plaintiff fails to file 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." Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005) (internal quotation omitted). "Moreover, in the absence of specific objections to the R & R, the Court need not give any explanation for adopting the recommendation." Wilson v. S.C Dept of Corr., No. 9:14-CV-4365-RMG, 2015 WL 1124701, at *1 (D.S.C. Mar. 12, 2015). See also Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 200 (4th Cir.1983). Plaintiff filed objections in this case and the R & R is reviewed de novo.

         B. Pro Se Pleadings

         This Court liberally construes complaints filed by pro se litigants to allow the development of a potentially meritorious case. See Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319 (1972); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972). The requirement of liberal construction does not mean that the Court can ignore a clear failure in the pleadings to allege facts which set forth a viable federal claim, nor can the Court assume the existence of a genuine issue of material fact where none exists. See Weller v. Dep't of Social Services, 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990).

         C. Standard

         Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits the dismissal of an action if the complaint fails "to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Such a motion tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint and "does not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of the claim, or the applicability of defenses.... Our inquiry then is limited to whether the allegations constitute 'a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief" Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992) (quotation marks and citation omitted). In a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court is obligated to "assume the truth of all facts alleged in the complaint and the existence of any fact that can be proved, consistent with the complaint's allegations." E. Shore Mkts., Inc. v. J.D. Assocs. Ltd. P'ship, 213 F.3d 175, 180 (4th Cir. 2000). However, while the Court must accept the facts in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, it "need not accept as true unwarranted inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or arguments." Id.

         To survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint must state "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Although the requirement of plausibility does not impose a probability requirement at this stage, the complaint must show more than a "sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A complaint has "facial plausibility" where the pleading "allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id.

         A Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction challenges the jurisdiction of a court to adjudicate the matter before it. Arbaugh v. Y & H Corp.,546 U.S. 500, 514 (2006). A challenge to subject-matter jurisdiction may contend either (1) that the complaint fails to allege facts sufficient to establish subject matter jurisdiction or (2) "that the jurisdictional allegations of the complaint [are] not true." Adams v. Bain,697 F.2d 1213, 1219 (4th Cir. 1982). Where the sufficiency of the jurisdictional allegations in the complaint is challenged facially, "the facts alleged in the complaint are taken as true, and the motion must be denied if the complaint alleges sufficient facts to invoke subject matter jurisdiction." Kerns v. United States,585 F.3d 187, 192 (2009). If, however the defendant contends "that the jurisdictional allegations of the complaint [are] not true," the plaintiff bears the burden to prove facts establishing jurisdiction and the district court may "decide disputed issues of fact." Id. In that case, ...

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