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Douglas v. Esper

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

January 14, 2020




         Before the Court is the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation (the “Report”), dated November 6, 2019. (ECF No. 44.) The Report recommends that the Court grant in part and deny in part Defendant Dr. Mark T. Esper's Motion for Summary Judgment. (Id. at 2.) Esper objected to parts of the Report on November 20, 2019 (the “Objection”). (ECF No. 45.) Plaintiff Larry Douglas has not objected to the Report or responded to Esper's Objection.

         For the following reasons, Esper's Objection is OVERRULED. The Report's recommendations are ADOPTED. Esper's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

         I. Background

         On June 19, 2018, Douglas filed a pro se complaint (the “Complaint”) against Esper[1] alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq. (“Title VII”), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, 29 U.S.C. §§ 621-634 (“ADEA”), and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12112, et seq. (“ADA”). (Compl., ECF No. 1.) The Report recites the facts and background of the case. (ECF No. 44 at 3-12.) Esper does not object to that recitation. (See ECF No. 45.) The Court need not repeat it here.

         On July 19, 2019, Esper filed a Motion for Summary Judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a). (ECF No. 30.) The Magistrate Judge issued her Report addressing that Motion on November 6, 2019. (ECF No. 44.) The Report recommends granting summary judgment in favor of Esper on Douglas's claims for race discrimination, color discrimination, age discrimination, disability discrimination, and retaliation on the basis of his hearing-related disability. (Id. at 2.) The Report recommends denying summary judgment on Douglas's claims for disability discrimination and failure to accommodate his disability on the basis of his posttraumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”). The Report also recommends that all of Douglas's failure-to-promote claims be dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. (Id.)

         On November 20, 2019, Esper objected to the Report's recommendations in part. (ECF No. 45.) Esper objects to the Report's legal conclusions about Douglas's claims of disability discrimination and failure to accommodate based on Douglas's disability of PTSD. Esper argues that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that his Motion should be granted in full. (See id.)

         II. Jurisdiction

         The Court has jurisdiction over Douglas's claims. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, United States district courts have original jurisdiction “of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” The Complaint alleges that the Agency discriminated against Douglas in violation of Title VII, the ADEA, and the ADA. (Compl., ECF No. 1.) Douglas's claims arise under the laws of the United States.

         III. Standard of Review

         A. Report and Recommendation

         A district court has the authority to “designate a magistrate judge to conduct hearings, including evidentiary hearings, and to submit to a judge of the court proposed findings of fact and recommendations for the disposition, by a judge of the court, of any motion . . . .” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). Congress enacted 28 U.S.C. § 636 to relieve the burden on the federal judiciary by permitting the assignment of certain district court duties to magistrate judges. See United States v. Curtis, 237 F.3d 598, 602 (6th Cir. 2001) (citing Gomez v. United States, 490 U.S. 858, 869-70 (1989)); see also Baker v. Peterson, 67 Fed.Appx. 308, 310 (6th Cir. 2003).

         For dispositive matters, “[t]he district judge must determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge's disposition that has been properly objected to.” See Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). After reviewing the evidence, the court is free to accept, reject, or modify the magistrate judge's proposed findings or recommendations. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The district court is not required to review --under a de novo or any other standard -- those aspects of the report and recommendation to which no objection is made. Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 150 (1985). The district court should adopt the magistrate judge's findings and rulings to which no specific objection is filed. See id. at 151.

         B. Summary Judgment

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, on motion of either party, the court “shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party must show that the nonmoving party, having had sufficient opportunity for discovery, lacks evidence to support an essential element of his case. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1); Peeples v. City of Detroit, 891 F.3d 622, 630 (6th Cir. 2018).

         When confronted with a properly supported motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine dispute for trial. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). “A ‘genuine' dispute exists when the plaintiff presents ‘significant probative evidence' ‘on which a reasonable jury could return a verdict for her.'” EEOC v. Ford Motor Co., 782 F.3d 753, 760 (6th Cir. 2015) (en banc) (quoting Chappell v. City of Cleveland, 585 F.3d 901, 913 (6th Cir. 2009)). The nonmoving party must do more than simply “show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Lossia v. Flagstar Bancorp, Inc., 895 F.3d 423, 428 (6th Cir. 2018) (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986)). The nonmovant must identify specific evidence in the record that would be sufficient to justify a trier of fact's decision in the nonmovant's favor. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1); Hanson v. Madison Cty. Det. Ctr., 736 Fed.Appx. 521, 527 (6th Cir. 2018). “[T]he disputed issue need not be resolved conclusively in favor of the non-moving party, [although] that party is required to present some significant probative evidence which makes it necessary to resolve the parties' differing versions of the dispute at trial.” Gaines v. Runyon, 107 F.3d 1171, 1174-75 (6th Cir. 1997) (citing First Nat'l. Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 288-89 (1968)).

         Although summary judgment must be used carefully, it “is an integral part of the Federal Rules as a whole, which are designed to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action[, ] rather than a disfavored procedural shortcut.” FDIC v. Jeff Miller Stables, 573 F.3d 289, 294 (6th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

         IV. Analysis

         Esper objects to specific legal conclusions in the Report. Douglas has not objected to the Report. The Court reviews de novo only the legal conclusions to which Esper has objected. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see also Arn, 474 U.S. at 150. The Court adopts all of the Report's other legal conclusions and proposed findings of fact. See Arn, 474 U.S. at 151.

         A. Recommended Findings and ...

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