United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
FAYE R. HOBSON, Plaintiff,
RETIRED GENERAL JAMES MATTIS, Secretary, Department of Defense, Defendant.
A. TRAUGER United States District Judge
the court are the plaintiff's Written Objections (Doc.
No. 25) to the magistrate judge's December 19, 2016 Order
purporting to grant the defendant's Motion to Dismiss
Improper Parties (Doc. No. 21). For the reasons discussed
herein, the court construes the magistrate judge's Order
as a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”). The
court will overrule the plaintiff's Objections, accept
the R&R, and grant the motion to dismiss the individual
defendants named in this action.
Standard of Review
Federal Magistrates Act of 1968 authorizes the district
courts to “designate a magistrate judge to hear and
determine any pretrial matter pending before the court,
” except for those matters deemed
“dispositive.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A). A
magistrate judge may be designated to hear and consider
dispositive motions, but, with respect to such motions, the
magistrate judge must submit to the district court proposed
findings of fact and recommendations for the disposition of
the motion by the district judge. 28 U.S.C. §
initial matter presented here is whether the Motion to
Dismiss Improper Parties, filed under Rule 12(b)(1), is a
dispositive or non-dispositive motion. Generally, pretrial
matters that a magistrate judge is precluded from
“determining” pursuant to § 636(b)(1)(A) are
called “dispositive” because they are
“dispositive of a claim or defense of a party.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72. The Sixth Circuit applies a
“functional analysis of the motion's potential
effect on litigation” to determine whether a particular
motion is dispositive. Vogel v. U.S. Office Prods.
Co., 258 F.3d 509, 514-15 (6th Cir. 2001). “The
list of dispositive motions contained in § 636(b)(1)(A)
is nonexhaustive, and unlisted motions that are functionally
equivalent to those listed in § 636(b)(1)(A) are also
dispositive.” Id. at 515.
motion in this case, styled as a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to
dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, is a
dispositive motion, because it is potentially dispositive of
the plaintiff's claims against the defendants seeking
dismissal. Accordingly, the court construes the magistrate
judge's Order as a Report and Recommendation.
objection is lodged against a magistrate judge's report
and recommendation on a dispositive matter, the district
court applies a de novo standard of review. In
conducting this review, courts reexamine the relevant
evidence previously reviewed by the magistrate judge to
determine whether the recommendation should be
“accept[ed], reject[ed], or modif[ied], in whole or in
part[.]” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); Fed.R.Civ.P.
to the allegations in the Complaint, the plaintiff resides in
Montgomery County, Tennessee. She is employed as a teacher by
the United States Department of Defense Education Activity
(“DoDEA”) in a U.S. overseas school operated on
Camp Humphreys Army Base in South Korea. In October 2014, she
requested leave without pay under the Family and Medical
Leave Act, 29 U.S.C.A. § 2601 et seq.
(“FMLA”), due to personal medical problems. She
was initially denied the requested leave. She believes that
the denial of FMLA leave was in retaliation for her having
previously filed discrimination complaints against the
agency. (Compl. ¶ 9.) She also alleges that she was
denied FMLA leave “because of Agency employees'
belief that Plaintiff is using her medical condition to seek
employment at Fort Campbell Schools.” (Compl. ¶
12.) She concedes that, eventually, “DoDEA Korea
District Superintendent Dr. Judith J. Allen granted leave
without pay for the requested time.” (Compl. ¶
26.) The plaintiff complains, however, that the leave was not
classified as FMLA leave, as a result of which she suffered a
loss in benefits and entitlements. (Id.)
on these and other allegations, the plaintiff filed her
Complaint initiating this action, naming as defendants the
Secretary of the Department of Defense in his official
capacity, as well as six individual identified as DoDEA
employees, including Steven Won, Jennifer Kehe, Susan
(Shelly) Kennedy, Dr. Judith Allen, Thomas Brady, and Linda
Curtis. The Complaint purports to assert claims under Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et
seq. (“Title VII”) (Compl. Count One,
¶¶ 23-30) and the Americans With Disabilities Act,
42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. (“ADA”)
(Compl. Count Two, ¶¶ 31-35).
Complaint also includes language indicating that the
plaintiff intends to bring claims under the FMLA against
defendants Steven Won, Jennifer Kehe, Susan (Shelly) Kennedy,
Dr. Judith J. Allen, Thomas Brady, and Linda Curtis. (Compl.
¶¶ 36a-36f.) Other than the reference to Dr. Allen
in paragraph 26, however, the plaintiff does not incorporate
into the Complaint any factual allegations concerning these
defendants; she simply identifies their roles within the
DoDEA and provides their service addresses. (Compl. ¶
3.) She also filed with the court an Index Complaint of FMLA
Denial's and Documentation [sic] (Doc. No. 16), which
appears to be intended to supplement the Complaint. Attached
to this Index is a copy of all the documents the plaintiff
sent to the Department of Labor in connection with her
administrative complaint concerning the denial of her initial
request for FMLA leave-approximately 350 pages of exhibits.
This documentation indicates that defendants Shelly Kennedy,
as school principal, along with Dr. Allen, as District
Superintendent, and Steven Won, Supervisory Human Resources
Specialist, were responsible, at different levels, for
reviewing and either granting or denying the plaintiff's
requests for medical leave. Jennifer Kehe, a Labor and
Employee Relations Specialist in the DoDEA Pacific Human
Resources Division, communicated some of these decisions to
the plaintiff. (See Doc. No. 16-4.)
Complaint also states that it is brought under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1981, and it references the Fair Labor Standards Act,
29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. (“FLSA”)
(Compl. ¶¶ 3, 5), but it does not state the basis
for relief under either statute.
The Motion and the Magistrate's Recommendation
their Motion to Dismiss Improper Parties and supporting
Memorandum, the defendants argue that the claims against the
six individual defendants-Won, Kehe, Kennedy, Allen, Brady,
and Curtis-must be dismissed, because the only proper
defendant in a federal employment discrimination lawsuit
under Title VII or ...