United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
Anthony P. Patti Magistrate Judge.
ORDER ADOPTING MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
RECOMMENDATION, OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS,
GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, AND
M. LAWSON United States District Judge.
Tracey Smith filed a complaint representing herself alleging
that she was fired from her job at defendant Food Bank of
Eastern Michigan on account of her race, 115 days after she
was hired. The Court referred this case to Magistrate Judge
Anthony P. Patti for pretrial management. Thereafter, the
defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. Judge Patti
filed a report recommending that the motion be granted.
Believing that the plaintiff had not filed objections to the
report and recommendation, the Court adopted the
recommendation and dismissed the case. The Court vacated that
judgment when it discovered that timely objections had been
received by the Clerk of Court but not docketed promptly. The
case is now before the Court for fresh review in light of the
motion, response, report, and objections.
magistrate judge read the pro se complaint as
pleading a case under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964, 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000e et seq. The record
indicates that plaintiff Tracey Smith, an African American,
was hired by the defendant The Food Bank of Eastern Michigan
(the Food Bank) on September 11, 2013 as a Supplemental
Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) specialist. She was hired
by Adam Dunton, a manager at the Food Bank. On January 3,
2014 - about four months later - at a termination meeting
with Dunton and two other Food Bank representatives, she was
terminated purportedly because of restructuring and the
plaintiff's performance issues. According to the
plaintiff, the real reason she was terminated was because of
Dunton's racial animus toward African Americans.
Judge Patti concluded that the undisputed record did not
support the plaintiff's allegations and recommended that
the defendant's summary judgment be granted and the case
be dismissed. Smith filed 25 objections to the report and
filing of timely objections to a report and recommendation
requires the Court to “make a de novo determination of
those portions of the report or specified findings or
recommendations to which objection is made.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1); see also United States v. Raddatz,
447 U.S. 667 (1980); United States v. Walters, 638
F.2d 947 (6th Cir. 1981). This de novo review
requires the Court to re-examine all of the relevant evidence
previously reviewed by the magistrate judge in order to
determine whether the recommendation should be accepted,
rejected, or modified in whole or in part. 28 U.S.C. §
filing of objections provides the district court with the
opportunity to consider the specific contentions of the
parties and to correct any errors immediately, ”
Walters, 638 F.2d at 950, enabling the court
“to focus attention on those issues - factual and legal
- that are at the heart of the parties' dispute, ”
Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 147 (1985). As a
result, “‘[o]nly those specific objections to the
magistrate's report made to the district court will be
preserved for appellate review; making some objections but
failing to raise others will not preserve all the objections
a party may have.'” McClanahan v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., 474 F.3d 830, 837 (6th Cir. 2006) (quoting
Smith v. Detroit Fed'n of Teachers Local 231,
829 F.2d 1370, 1373 (6th Cir. 1987)).
Patti's report was responsive to the defendant's
motion for summary judgment. Summary judgment is appropriate
“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). When
reviewing the motion record, “[t]he court must view the
evidence and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the
non-moving party, and determine ‘whether the evidence
presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a
jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must
prevail as a matter of law.'” Alexander v.
CareSource, 576 F.3d 551, 557-58 (6th Cir. 2009)
(quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 251-52 (1986)).
party bringing the summary judgment motion has the initial
burden of informing the district court of the basis for its
motion and identifying portions of the record that
demonstrate the absence of a genuine dispute over material
facts.” Id. at 558. (citing Mt. Lebanon
Personal Care Home, Inc. v. Hoover Universal, Inc., 276
F.3d 845, 848 (6th Cir. 2002)). “Once that occurs, the
party opposing the motion then may not ‘rely on the
hope that the trier of fact will disbelieve the movant's
denial of a disputed fact' but must make an affirmative
showing with proper evidence in order to defeat the
motion.” Ibid. (quoting Street v. J.C.
Bradford & Co., 886 F.2d 1472, 1479 (6th Cir.
party opposing the summary judgment motion must do more than
simply show that there is some ‘metaphysical doubt as
to the material facts.'” Highland Capital, Inc.
v. Franklin Nat'l Bank, 350 F.3d 558, 564 (6th Cir.
2003) (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith
Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986))
(internal quotation marks omitted). A party opposing a motion
for summary judgment must designate specific facts in
affidavits, depositions, or other factual material showing
“evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for
the plaintiff.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252. If
the non-moving party, after sufficient opportunity for
discovery, is unable to meet her burden of proof, summary
judgment is clearly proper. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986).
or unnecessary factual disputes do not create genuine issues
of material fact. St. Francis Health Care Centre v.
Shalala, 205 F.3d 937, 943 (6th Cir. 2000). A fact is
“material” if its resolution affects the outcome
of the lawsuit. Lenning v. Commercial Union Ins.
Co., 260 F.3d 574, 581 (6th Cir. 2001).
“Materiality” is determined by the substantive
law claim. Boyd v. Baeppler, 215 F.3d 594, 599 (6th
Cir. 2000). An issue is “genuine” if a
“reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party.” Henson v. Nat'l Aeronautics
& Space Admin., 14 F.3d 1143, 1148 (6th Cir. 1994)
(quoting 477 U.S. at 248).
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it “an
unlawful employment practice for an employer . . . to
discriminate against any individual with respect to [her]
compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment,
because of such individual's race . . . .” 42
U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). To prove race discrimination
under Title VII, the plaintiff must offer evidence that the
defendant took adverse action against her and that race was a
motivating factor. Ondricko v. MGM Grand Detroit,
LLC, 689 F.3d 642, 649 (6th Cir. 2012).
these rules, procedures, and legal principles in mind, the
Court will turn to the plaintiff's objections.
noted above, the plaintiff made 25 objections to the
magistrate judge's report. Objections 3, 8, 9, 12, 13,
14, 15, 18, 21, and 23 are insufficient to warrant review,
because they do not identify any specific defect in the
magistrate judge's report and recommendation, and they do
not set forth any factual basis or legal authority to support
a conclusion that the magistrate judge erred. “Overly
general objections do not satisfy the objection
requirement.” Spencer v. Bouchard, 449 F.3d
721, 725 (6th Cir. 2006). “The objections must be clear
enough to enable the district court to discern those issues
that are dispositive and contentious.” Miller v.
Currie, 50 F.3d 373, 380 (6th Cir. 1995).
“‘[O]bjections disput[ing] the correctness of the
magistrate's recommendation but fail[ing] to specify the
findings . . . believed [to be] in error' are too
general, ” Spencer, 449 F.3d at 725 (quoting
Miller, 50 F.3d at 380), and “the failure to
file specific objections to a magistrate's report
constitutes a waiver of those objections, ” Cowherd
v. Million, 380 F.3d 909, 912 (6th Cir. 2004).
Objections 1, 2, and 25
plaintiff's first, second, and twenty-fifth objections,
she argues that the magistrate judge erred by finding that
there is no direct evidence of discrimination committed by
the defendant. She argues that she is not the only individual
that filed a lawsuit against the defendant and that such
evidence “speaks for itself.” Id. at
2-3. In support, she points to exhibits 8 and 9 attached to
her response to the summary judgment motion. Neither exhibit,
however, amounts to direct evidence of discrimination.
evidence of discrimination is that evidence which, if
believed, requires the conclusion that unlawful
discrimination was [the] motivating factor in the
employer's actions. It does not require the fact finder
to draw any inferences to reach that conclusion.”
Sharp v. AkerPlant Servs. Grp., Inc., 726
F.3d 789, 798 (6th Cir. 2013) (quoting Wexler v.
White's Fine Furniture, Inc., 317 F.3d 564, 570 (6th
Cir. 2003) (en banc), and Amini v. Oberlin Coll.,
440 F.3d 350, 359 (6th Cir. 2006)) (quotation marks omitted).
For example, “[d]iscriminatory remarks by decision
makers and those who significantly influence the