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Liggins v. G.A. & F.C. Wagman, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Harrisonburg Division

August 27, 2019

KENNETH D. LIGGINS, Plaintiff,
v.
G.A. & F.C. WAGMAN, INC., et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ELIZABETH K. DILLON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Kenneth Liggins, proceeding pro se, filed this action against his former employer, G.A. & F.C. Wagman, Inc. (Wagman), [1] alleging that Wagman “denied [him] equal pay for equal work due to his race and color” in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e to 2000e-17.[2] (Am. Compl. 1, Dkt. No. 13.) Defendant moved to dismiss the amended complaint with prejudice under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Mot. to Dismiss, Dkt. No. 18.) 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. 30.)

         On May 22, 2019, Judge Hoppe issued his R&R recommending that the court grant Wagman's motion but dismiss the case without prejudice for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. (R&R 1, Dkt. No. 46.) Upon filing the R&R, the magistrate judge advised the parties of their right under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b)(2) to file written objections to his proposed findings and recommendations within 14 days of service of the R&R. (Id. at 9.)

         On June 10, 2019, Wagman filed a notice of filing supplemental authority in which it cited a case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States on June 3, 2019. (Notice Supp. Auth., Dkt. No. 50.) Wagman cites Fort Bend Cty, Tex. v. Davis, 139 S.Ct. 1843 (2019), for the proposition that Liggins's failure to include allegations of unequal pay in his charge filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) requires the court to dismiss the case with prejudice. (Id. at 2.)

         On June 11, 2019-the day after the objection deadline expired-Liggins filed a “response” to the R&R in which he stated he has “no objection to this case being dismiss[ed] without Prejudice for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.” (Pl. Resp. to R&R 1, Dkt. No. 51.) Liggins did not otherwise respond to Wagman's notice of filing supplemental authority.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The court adopts the recitation of facts and procedural background as set forth in the R&R. (R&R 2-5.) Because the court is ruling on a motion to dismiss, it accepts as true the well-pleaded facts set forth in Liggins's amended complaint. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 572 (2007).

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Standard of Review

         A district court sitting in review of a magistrate judge's R&R must review de novo “those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). An objection is properly noted if it is stated “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). “[I]n the absence of a timely filed objection, 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) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 72 advisory committee's note). The court “may accept, reject, or modify the recommended disposition; receive further evidence; or return the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3).

         Although not styled as an objection, Wagman's notice of filing supplemental authority clearly sets forth its disagreement with the magistrate judge's recommendation and asks the court to reconsider a specific portion of that recommendation. The court will thus construe Wagman's notice as an objection to the R&R and will review de novo the issue of whether Liggins's case should be dismissed with prejudice. The remainder of the R&R will be reviewed for clear error.

         B. Liggins's Case Should Be Dismissed with Prejudice

         Upon reviewing the record in this case, the court is satisfied that there is no clear error as to the R&R's recitation of facts or recommendation that Liggins's case be dismissed. The court will therefore adopt those portions of the R&R. It will not, however, adopt all of the R&R's reasoning or the recommendation that dismissal be without prejudice. In particular, the court will not adopt the conclusion that the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Liggins's Title VII claim for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Additionally, because the deadline has passed for Liggins to file a charge with the EEOC, Liggins's claim should be dismissed with prejudice.

         1. Subject ...


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