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Santifer v. Inergy Automotive Systems, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

February 1, 2017

Eric Santifer, Plaintiff,
v.
Inergy Automotive Systems, LLC and Jim Rebbeck, Defendants.

          Anthony P. Patti Mag. Judge.

          ORDER DENYING OBJECTIONS TO REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION [48], ADOPTING IN PART REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION [47], AND GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [29]

          JUDITH E. LEVY United States District Judge.

         On April 24, 2015, pro se plaintiff Eric Santifer filed a complaint against defendants Inergy Automotive Systems, LLC and Jim Rebbeck, arguing they wrongfully terminated him on the basis of race. (Dkt. 1.) Defendants moved for summary judgment. (Dkt. 29.) On August 12, 2016, the Magistrate Judge issued a report and recommendation granting defendants' motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. 47.) On August 31, 2016, plaintiff filed objections to the report and recommendation. (Dkt. 48.) For the reasons set forth below, plaintiff's objections are denied, the report and recommendation is adopted in part, and defendants' motion for summary judgment is granted.

         I. Background

         The factual background that led plaintiff to file his complaint has been set forth in detail in the report and recommendation and it will not be repeated here. (See Dkt. 47 at 4-7.)

         In the report and recommendation, the Magistrate Judge recommended granting defendants' motion for summary judgment on the following grounds. First, plaintiff's claim is time barred, even if considered under the doctrine of equitable estoppel. (Dkt. 47 at 9-13.) Second, plaintiff has failed to state a prima facie case of discrimination. (Id. at 14-15.) Third, even if plaintiff stated a prima facie case, he failed to rebut defendants' legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for terminating his employment. (Id. at 16-19.) Fourth, as a matter of law, defendant Rebbeck cannot be held liable because he was not plaintiff's supervisor. (Id. at 19.)

         Plaintiff objects to each of the recommendations in the report and recommendation. (Dkt. 48.)

         II. Legal Standard

         A magistrate judge's report and recommendation is made pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). “[T]his recommendation has no presumptive weight, ” and the district judge “has the responsibility of making the final determination.” Patrick Collins, Inc. v. John Does 1-21, 286 F.R.D. 319, 320 (E.D. Mich. 2012). If a party objects to part or all of the report and recommendation, the district judge must review de novo those parts to which the party has objected. Lardie v. Birkett, 221 F.Supp.2d 806, 807 (E.D. Mich. 2002); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). De novo review “entails at least a review of the evidence that faced the Magistrate Judge.” Lardie, 221 F.Supp.2d at 807.

         After reviewing a report and recommendation, a court may “accept, reject, or modify the findings or recommendations.” Id. If the report and recommendation is adopted after de novo review, the court “need not state with specificity what it reviewed; it is sufficient for the [c]ourt to say that it has engaged in a de novo review.” Id.

         III. Analysis

         Plaintiff objects to each of the reasons for granting defendants' motion for summary judgment that the Magistrate Judge set forth in the report and recommendation. (See generally Dkt. 48.) Plaintiff first objects on the ground that January 15, 2015 cannot serve as the “official notification date” that would trigger the ninety-day statute of limitations.

         A plaintiff alleging a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., must file an administrative action with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) before filing a complaint in federal court. Once the EEOC makes a final decision, it will issue to the plaintiff a notice of his or her right to sue (“RTS”), and the plaintiff must file a civil suit in federal court within ninety days of receiving the RTS. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16(c).

         In this case, plaintiff argues he filed his complaint with this Court within ninety days of receiving the RTS. On January 14, 2015, the EEOC made a final determination in plaintiff's case, finding it was “unable to conclude that the information obtained [during its investigation of plaintiff's complaint] establishes violations of” Title VII. (Dkt. 1 at 5.) That same day, the EEOC issued the RTS and communicated with plaintiff that the RTS would be mailed on January 15, 2015. (Dkt. 48 at 1.) The EEOC mailed the RTS, dated January 14, 2015, to the address on record for plaintiff, which was a P.O. Box that plaintiff “regularly checked . . . on Saturdays.” (Dkt. 1 at ...


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