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Duck v. Madison County Sheriff's Department

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division

June 13, 2018

MARY KATHERINE DUCK, Plaintiff,
v.
MADISON COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, Defendant.

          ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION AND DISMISSING CASE

          J. DANIEL BREEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Background and Procedural History

         On March 13, 2017, Plaintiff, Mary Katherine Duck, filed a pro se complaint on the Court-provided form for employment discrimination[1] under “Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as codified, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e to 2000e-17” (“Title VII”), the “Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, as codified, 29 U.S.C. §§ 621-634” (“ADEA”), and the “Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as codified, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12112-12117” (“ADA”), against Defendant, the Madison County Sheriff's Department (“Sheriff's Department”), as well as a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Docket Entry (“D.E.”) 2; D.E. 1 at PageID 1.)

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant discriminated against her-via “[t]ermination of [her] employment” and “[u]nequal terms and conditions of [her] employment”-because she “was more . . . than 40 years old, ” white, female, and dyslexic. (D.E. 1 at PageID 3-4.) Duck attached to her complaint a December 21, 2016 letter from the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) notifying her of her right to sue and determining that, “[b]ased upon its investigation, ” it was “unable to conclude that the information obtained establishes violations of the statutes.” (D.E. 1-1 at PageID 7 (instructing on PageID 9 that in bringing a suit under Title VII, the ADA, or the ADEA, “[y]ou must file a ‘complaint' that contains a short statement of the facts of your case which shows that you are entitled to relief”).) Although Plaintiff's complaint includes a single run-on sentence asserting the facts of her case, [2] a typed letter attached to her complaint-also dated March 13, 2017-more clearly explains her factual allegations as follows:

In January of 2014[, ] three white males in their 20's and one white female in her 50's were hired as correctional officers with the Madison County Sheriff's Department. On November 5, 2014, I broke my finger in the line of duty and was terminated. I followed all policies and procedures but yet the explanation given for my termination was not living up to the standards of a correctional officer. During the period of time I was employed with the Madison County Sheriff's Department, I was never approached with any negative comments about my job performance. The three white males I hired in with are all still employed with the Sheriff's Department. I was the only correctional officer in this group that was terminated.

(D.E. 1-3.)

         Pursuant to Administrative Order No. 2013-05, this action was referred to United States Magistrate Judge Edward Bryant on March 15, 2017, for management of all pretrial matters. (Admin. Order 2013-05, Apr. 29, 2013.) That same day, the magistrate judge granted Duck in forma pauperis status. (D.E. 7.) On November 15, 2017, Judge Bryant ordered the Clerk to issue process for Defendant, which was effected on November 22, 2017. (D.E. 14; D.E. 8.)

         On January 8, 2018, after the Court granted Defendant “an extension of time to serve responsive pleadings, ” (D.E. 13), the Sheriff's Department filed a motion “to dismiss this action pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, ” (D.E. 15 at PageID 36).

         Defendant argued that because “[i]t is well settled that governmental departments such as sheriff's departments are not suable entities. . . . Plaintiff's claims must be dismissed.” (D.E. 15-1 at PageID 39-40 (citing Jones v. Union Cty., Tenn., 296 F.3d 417, 421 (6th Cir. 2002)) (collecting cases).) Instead of responding to the Sheriff's Department's substantive arguments, Duck filed a letter on January 31, 2018, that she wrote to counsel for Defendant, maintaining that she “ha[d] no intentions to dismiss this case.”[3] (D.E. 17.)

         In the report and recommendation issued on May 21, 2018, the magistrate judge “recommended that Plaintiff's claims be dismissed” and “that this Court [grant] Defendant['s] Motion to Dismiss without prejudice.” (D.E. 18 at PageID 47.) Citing Jones v. Union Cty., Tenn., 296 F.3d at 421, and several Tennessee district court cases, Judge Bryant agreed with “Defendant['s] assert[ion] that the Madison County Sheriff's Department is not an entity subject to suit.” (Id.)

         According to the Court's docket, no objections to the report and recommendation have been submitted pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), and the time for such filings has passed. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b).

         II. Applicable Law for Reviewing the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation

         When objections are filed with respect to a magistrate judge's report and recommendation, the district judge “shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3). While “a district judge is not required to review a magistrate's report” “when no objections are filed, ” Cameron v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., No. 14-11622, 2016 WL 1223437, at *1 (E.D. Mich. Mar. 29, 2016) (citing Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 152 (1985)), the judge “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); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3); see, e.g., Jackson v. Dep't of Human Servs., No. 3:09-0038, 2009 WL 2043641, at *1 (M.D. Tenn. July 9, 2009). “It does not appear that Congress intended to require district court review of a magistrate's factual or legal conclusions, under a de novo or any other standard, when neither party objects to those findings.” Thomas, 474 U.S. at 150.

         “The text of [Federal] Rule [of Civil Procedure] 72(b)(3) addresses only the review of portions of reports to which timely objections have been made; it does not indicate the appropriate standard of review for portions of the report to which no objections have properly been made.” Wood v. Warden, No. 3:15CV775, 2016 WL 6476277, at *2 (N.D. Ohio Nov. 2, 2016). However, the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules indicated in a note to Rule 72's 1983 amendment that “[w]hen no timely objection is filed, the court need only satisfy itself that there is no ...


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