Santifer v. Automotive Systems, LLC et al
ORDER Denying Objections to Report and Recommendation 48 , Adopting in Part Report and Recommendation 47 , and Granting Defendants' 29 Motion for Summary Judgment - Signed by District Judge Judith E. Levy. (FMos)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
Case No. 15-cv-11486
Judith E. Levy
United States District Judge
Inergy Automotive Systems, LLC
and Jim Rebbeck,
Mag. Judge Anthony P. Patti
ORDER DENYING OBJECTIONS TO REPORT AND
RECOMMENDATION , ADOPTING IN PART REPORT AND
RECOMMENDATION , AND GRANTING DEFENDANTS’
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 
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.
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.
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.)
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 121, 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).
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.
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
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 3.) Plaintiff
claims he checked the box on January 17, 2017, but had not received
the RTS, and did not check the box again until January 25, 2015, at
which point he received the notice. (Id.)
To support his argument that he filed his complaint with the
Court within the statute of limitations, plaintiff first argues that he was
not told about “reply times and deadlines” by the EEOC.
argues that because he is a pro se litigant, he cannot be held to have
prior knowledge of the five-day notification rule that states the ninetyday statute of limitations begins to run five days after the RTS notice
has been mailed.
Finally, plaintiff argues that he had “compelling
personal responsibilities to secure housing and employment prior to
starting to work on” his complaint. (Dkt. 48 at 1–4.)
Although plaintiff was not told by the EEOC that the mailing of
the RTS would trigger the statute of limitations, he admits in his
objections that he was informed by the EEOC on January 14, 2015 that
the RTS would be mailed on January 15, 2015. (Dkt. 48 at 1.) Thus,
because plaintiff knew the letter would be mailed on January 15, 2015,
and has not offered evidence to suggest it was not mailed on that day,
plaintiff is presumed to have constructively received the RTS
notification on January 15, 2015, the day the letter was mailed to
plaintiff. Graham-Humphreys v. Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Inc.,
209 F.3d 552, 558–59 (6th Cir. 2000) (plaintiff constructively received
RTS on the date it was mailed). The statute of limitations period began
to run on January 20, 2015, and plaintiff was required to file his
lawsuit by April 20, 2015.
The rule may seem harsh, but the Sixth Circuit is clear that
“notice is given and hence the ninety-day limitations term begins
running, on the fifth day following the EEOC’s mailing of an RTS
notification . . . by virtue of a presumption of actual delivery and receipt
within that five-day duration, unless the plaintiff rebuts that
presumption with proof that he or she did not receive notification within
Graham-Humphreys, 209 F.3d at 557 (emphasis in
And this Court cannot alter this rule even for a pro se
plaintiff, as “[t]he federal courts have strictly enforced Title VII’s
ninety-day statutory limit.” Id.
Plaintiff also argues in his objections that he was delayed in filing
his lawsuit because he was attempting to secure employment and
But he admits he began working on the complaint in late
February (see Dkt. 48 at 3), which indicates he had at least seven weeks
left in which to file the complaint before the deadline.
concluding a de novo review of the report and recommendation with
regards to the statute of limitations issue, the Court concludes the
magistrate judge accurately applied the law to the facts, and denies
plaintiff’s objection on this ground.
Because the Court finds plaintiff’s claims are time barred, the
Court need not address plaintiff’s remaining objections. Accordingly,
the Court adopts only the part of the report and recommendation about
the statute of limitations issue, and defendants’ motion for summary
judgment is granted.
For the reasons set forth above, plaintiff’s objections are DENIED.
(Dkt. 48.) The report and recommendation (Dkt. 47) is ADOPTED IN
PART as to the statute of limitations issue and defendants’ motion for
summary judgment is GRANTED. (Dkt. 29.)
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated: February 1, 2017
Ann Arbor, Michigan
s/Judith E. Levy
JUDITH E. LEVY
United States District Judge
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
The undersigned certifies that the foregoing document was served
upon counsel of record and any unrepresented parties via the Court’s
ECF System to their respective email or First Class U.S. mail addresses
disclosed on the Notice of Electronic Filing on February 1, 2017.
s/Felicia M. Moses
FELICIA M. MOSES
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?