United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Harrisonburg Division
KENNETH D. LIGGINS, Plaintiff,
G.A. & F.C. WAGMAN, INC., et al., Defendants.
ELIZABETH K. DILLON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Kenneth Liggins, proceeding pro se, filed this action against
his former employer, G.A. & F.C. Wagman, Inc. (Wagman),
recover money damages for various violations of Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (Second Am. Compl., Dkt. No.
62.) Wagman moved to dismiss the second amended complaint
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Mot. to
Dismiss Second Am. Compl., Dkt. No. 63.) In accordance with
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), the court referred the motion
to Magistrate Judge Joel C. Hoppe for a report and
recommendation (R&R). (Order 1, Dkt. No. 83.) On May 22,
2019, Judge Hoppe issued his R&R recommending that the
court dismiss the second amended complaint with prejudice.
(R&R 14, Dkt No. 101.) Liggins objects to the
recommendation and asks the court to proceed with the
case. (Pl. Mot. Deny R&R, Dkt. No. 105.) For
the following reasons, the court will overrule Liggins's
objection, adopt the R&R, and dismiss the case with
court adopts the recitation of facts and procedural
background as set forth in the R&R. (R&R 3-6.)
Because the court is ruling on a motion to dismiss, it
accepts as true the well-pleaded facts set forth in the
second amended complaint. Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 572 (2007.)
Standard of Review
Federal Magistrates Act requires a party objecting to a
magistrate judge's R&R to file their objections with
the district court within fourteen days. 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(B). A party must object “with sufficient
specificity so as reasonably to alert the district court of
the true ground for the objection.” United States
v. Midgette, 478 F.3d 616, 622 (4th Cir. 2007).
“General objections that merely reiterate arguments
presented to the magistrate judge lack the specificity
required under Rule 72, and have the same effect as a failure
to object, or as a waiver of such objection.” Moon
v. BWX Techs., Inc., 742 F.Supp.2d 827, 829 (W.D. Va.
2010), aff'd, 498 Fed.Appx. 268 (4th Cir. 2012).
Where a party fails to object, or objects generally, the
court reviews the R&R for clear error. Diamond v.
Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315
(4th Cir. 2005); Moon, 742 F.Supp.2d at 829.
Liggins Has Failed to State a Plausible Claim to Relief Under
second amended complaint asserts several violations of Title
VII, including status-based discrimination, hostile work
environment, and retaliation. 42 U.S.C. §§
2000e-2(a)(1), 2000e-3(a). Liggins also asserts a common law
claim of conspiracy. (Second Am. Compl. 19- 21.) In his
R&R, the magistrate judge recommends dismissal of the
second amended complaint for failure to allege facts that
state a plausible claim showing Liggins is entitled to
Liggins has objected to the R&R, his objection merely
rehashes the facts and arguments included in his second
amended complaint, which the magistrate judge addressed in
detail in the R&R. Because Liggins merely reiterates
arguments already presented to the magistrate judge, he
states a general objection that fails to meet the standard of
Rule 72(b), and the court need review the R&R only for
state a claim for discrimination under Title VII, a plaintiff
must allege “(1) membership in a protected class; (2)
satisfactory job performance; (3) adverse employment action;
and (4) different treatment from similarly situated employees
outside the protected class.” Scott v. Health Net
Fed. Servs., 463 Fed.Appx. 206, 208 (4th Cir. 2012).
Although Liggins is a member of a protected class and
suffered an adverse employment action when Wagman terminated
his employment, his complaint falls short of alleging
satisfactory job performance or different treatment.
support of his satisfactory job performance, Liggins
emphasizes his promotions from a labor position to
“finisher” and later “labor foreman,
” (Second Am. Compl. 4); however, the fact that his
drug screen tested positive for cocaine belies Liggins's
assertion that he performed satisfactorily. (Id. at
17.) As the magistrate judge noted, the racial motivation
Liggins suggests for his termination “‘is not
plausible in light of the obvious alternative
explanation' that the decision makers simply judged him
unfit to work in heavy construction after he tested positive
for cocaine.” (R&R 9 (quoting McCleary-Evans v.
Md. Dep't of Transp., St. Hwy. Admin., 780 F.3d 582,
588 (4th Cir. 2015)).)
Liggins has not alleged sufficient facts showing that Wagman
treated similarly situated employees differently based on
their race. Specifically, he has not identified any Wagman
employees who also tested positive for drug use but were not
terminated. Thus, Liggins has not alleged facts from
which the court can infer race was Wagman's motivation
for its employment decisions, and the ...