Sanders v. Family Dollar Stores, Inc.
ORDER AND OPINION denying 107 Motion for Reconsideration re 98 Order Ruling on Report and Recommendation. Signed by Honorable J Michelle Childs on 10/30/2017.(asni, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
ROCK HILL DIVISION
Eric Alan Sanders,
Family Dollar Stores, Inc.,
Civil Action No.: 0:15-cv-00586-JMC
ORDER AND OPINION
Plaintiff Eric Alan Sanders (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se, filed a Complaint against
Defendant Family Dollar Stores, Inc. (“Defendant”) alleging a hostile work environment,
negligence, gender-based disparate treatment in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (Title VII
of the Civil Rights Act of 1964(a)(1-2)), disability-based disparate treatment in violation of 42
U.S.C. § 12112 (the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990), and “Retaliation in Response to
Opposition to the Hostile Work Environment and the Protected Activity in Reporting.” (ECF No.
1 at 19 ¶¶ 298-302.) His Complaint was dismissed, and Judgment was entered in favor of
Defendant. (ECF Nos. 98, 99.)
This matter is before the court on Plaintiff’s Motion for Relief from Final Judgment. (ECF
No. 107.) For the reasons stated below, the court DENIES Plaintiff’s Motion.
RELEVANT PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
The court concludes upon its own careful review of the record that the factual and
procedural summation in the Magistrate Judge’s Report (ECF No. 93) is accurate, and the court
adopts this summary as its own. Subsequently, the court will only recite herein facts pertinent to
the analysis of Plaintiff’s Motion for Relief from Final Judgment. (ECF No. 107.) The Magistrate
Judge’s Report was filed on November 22, 2016 and Plaintiff filed an Objection on December 7,
2016. (ECF Nos. 93, 95.) Defendant responded to Plaintiff’s Objection, and the court accepted
the Magistrate Judge’s Report granting Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss for Plaintiff’s Failure to
Participate in Discovery (ECF No. 80), on January 3, 2017. (ECF Nos. 96, 98.) On January 23,
2017, Plaintiff appealed the court’s Order and Judgment to the United States Court of Appeals for
the Fourth Circuit, which was affirmed on August 22, 2017. (ECF Nos. 101, 108.) On August 14,
2017, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Relief from Final Judgment. (ECF No. 107.) The Mandate and
Judgment of the Fourth Circuit was filed on October 10, 2017. (ECF No. 111.)
The court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 based on Plaintiff’s
allegations arising under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. and 42 U.S.C. § 12112. The court also has
jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e–5(f)(3) to hear Plaintiff’s Title VII claim, which specifically
grants jurisdiction to the court to hear cases under Title VII.
"[B]efore a party may seek relief under Rule 60(b), a party first must show timeliness, a
meritorious defense 1, a lack of unfair prejudice to [any] opposing party, and exceptional
circumstances. 2 After a party has crossed this initial threshold, he then must satisfy one of the six
specific sections of Rule 60(b)." Dowell v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Auto. Ins. Co., 993 F.2d 46,
48 (4th Cir. 1993) (citing Werner v. Carbo, 731 F.2d 204, 207 (4th Cir. 1984)).
See Augusta Fiberglass Coatings, Inc. v. Fodor Contracting Corp., 843 F.2d 808, 812 (4th Cir.
1988) (“[a] meritorious defense requires a proffer of evidence which would permit a finding for
the [movant] or which would establish a valid counterclaim.”) (citing Central Operating Co. v.
Utility Workers of America, 491 F.2d 245, 252 n. 8 (4th Cir. 1974)).
“. . . ‘exceptional circumstances,’ is sometimes noted.” Nat'l Credit Union Admin. Bd. v. Gray,
1 F.3d 262, 264 (4th Cir. 1993). The court will address this in its discussion of Plaintiff’s claim
for relief under Rule 60(b)(2).
A court may relieve a party from a final judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b) for the
following reasons: “(1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect; (2) newly discovered
evidence that, with reasonable diligence, could not have been discovered in time to move for a
new trial under Rule 59(b); (3) fraud (whether previously called intrinsic or extrinsic),
misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party; (4) the judgment is void; (5) the judgment
has been satisfied, released or discharged; it is based on an earlier judgment that has been reversed
or vacated; or applying it prospectively is no longer equitable; or (6) any other reason that justifies
relief.” A motion under this rule must be made within a reasonable time, and relief under reasons
(1), (2), and (3) is not available after one year from the entry of the judgment. Fed. R. Civ. P.
The standard governing relief based on newly discovered evidence under Rule 60(b)(2)
requires that a party demonstrate: “(1) the evidence is newly discovered since the judgment was
entered; (2) due diligence on the part of the movant to discover the new evidence has been
exercised; (3) the evidence is not merely cumulative or impeaching; (4) the evidence is material;
and (5) the evidence is such that is likely to produce a new outcome if the case were retried, or is
such that would require the judgment to be amended.” Boryan v. United States, 884 F.2d 767, 771
(4th Cir. 1989) (citing Taylor v. Texgas Corp., 831 F.2d 255, 259 (11th Cir. 1987) (citations
As Plaintiff is a pro se litigant, the court is required to liberally construe his arguments.
Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978); see also Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519,
520 (1972) (pro se plaintiff’s “inartful pleadings” may be sufficient enough to provide the
opportunity to offer supporting evidence.)
As to the threshold requirements for relief under Rule 60(b), Plaintiff filed a timely Motion,
and asserts the defense that he did not have evidence of his wife and mother’s license suspension
(ECF No. 107-1 at 2, 4), and that their license suspension is part of the reason why he did not
comply with the court’s Text Order that he be deposed on or before August 15, 2016 (ECF No.
66). (ECF No. 107.) Plaintiff also asserts the defense that Dr. Caleb Loring’s Report (ECF No.
107-1 at 7-10) is new medical evidence that confirms his anxiety was the reason he stopped his
November 3, 2015 deposition and did not meaningfully participate. (Id. at 3.) 3 As to the lack of
unfair prejudice to Defendant, the court acknowledges that Defendant may be prejudiced by the
court modifying its Order and reopening Plaintiff’s case given his “persistent” non-compliance
with the court’s previous orders. (See ECF No. 98 at 4.) However, because Plaintiff is pro se and
the court must liberally construe his arguments, the court will address Plaintiff’s Motion. 4
Plaintiff brings his Motion pursuant to the new evidence provisions of Rule 60(b)(2). (ECF
No. 107 at 1-2.) Addressing Plaintiff’s notification of his wife and mother’s driver’s license
suspensions, Plaintiff asserts that the evidence is newly discovered because he had no knowledge
of the suspensions until after the court’s judgment. (Id. at 2.) The court accepts this information
as newly discovered evidence. 5
The court addressed the November 3, 2015 deposition, stating that “. . . [it] is not persuaded by
Plaintiff’s efforts to recast his dilatory behavior by emphasizing a single instance of his ‘good faith
effort’ to sit for a deposition with Defendant.” (ECF No. 98 at 3.)
Compton v. Alton S.S. Co., 608 F.2d 96, 102 (4th Cir. 1979) (considerations of prejudice to an
opposing party are to be considered, but are not controlling as to the court’s review).
The court notes that in corresponding with Defendant’s counsel about the August 15, 2016
deposition, Plaintiff stated that he could not be in attendance because “[his] mother had no license.”
(ECF No. 80-2 at 3.) The court also notes that in that same correspondence, Plaintiff states that
his wife “[could] not take [him],” but offers no reason why. (Id. at 3.) However, Plaintiff states
However, Plaintiff was not diligent in discovering this alleged new evidence. He asserts
that he “. . . could not access his mother and wife’s driving records [that he requested from] the
South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles. . . .” (Id.) Plaintiff, however, did not have his wife
or mother request their driving records in order that he could present evidence of their license
suspensions to the court. Because Plaintiff was not diligent in attempting to ascertain this
information, the court will not afford Plaintiff relief from its final judgment under Rule 60(b)(2).
See Boryan v. United States, 884 F.2d 767, 771 (4th Cir. 1989) (“[ ] in order to support a motion
for reconsideration [or for relief], ‘the movant is obliged to show not only that this evidence was
newly discovered or unknown to it until after the hearing, but also that it could not with reasonable
diligence have discovered and produced such evidence [to the court].’”) (citing Frederick S. Wyle
P.C. v. Texaco, Inc., 764 F.2d 604, 609 (9th Cir. 1985)).
As to Dr. Loring’s Report, Plaintiff asserts that he did not know of the Report until April
28, 2017 when he renewed a Social Security claim that he had abandoned. (ECF No. 107 at 3.)
However, the examination was on September 1, 2015. (ECF No. 107-1 at 7.) Plaintiff asserts that
Dr. Loring’s Report confirms his diagnosis of “Paranoid personality disorder” and thus provides
new evidence that the reason he could not finish his November 3, 2015 deposition was due to his
anxiety (ECF No. 47-6 at 61-67.) (ECF No. 107 at 3.) The court accepts this information as newly
However, Plaintiff was not diligent in trying to discover this evidence. Plaintiff may not
have been able to present this Report at his November 3, 2015 deposition, but he could have
in his Motion for Relief from Final Judgment that his wife “refuses to drive him to any hearings,
depositions, etc.” (ECF No. 107 at 2.) Despite these assertions which provide other reasons why
Plaintiff’s wife and mother could not take him to his deposition, the fact that Plaintiff’s wife and
mother’s licenses were suspended is newly discovered evidence.
presented the fact that he had an examination to Defendant and the court in order to show that a
reasonable accommodation might be necessary for future depositions.
Moreover, Dr. Loring’s Report is cumulative because it reconfirms disorders or ailments
that Plaintiff already asserted, or could have asserted. Plaintiff’s Objection to the Magistrate
Judge’s Report states that “. . . Defendant has been granted unlimited access to [his] mental health
records documenting the diagnoses of his various mental disabilities via a previous order of the
court (ECF No. 42).” (ECF No. 95 at 4.) 6 In addition, Plaintiff’s Complaint states that he had a
variety of different ailments including Bi-Polar with Mania, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder,
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, panic attacks, and Body Dysmorphic Disorder. (ECF No. 1 at 5 ¶ 4.)
Dr. Loring’s Report reconfirms these conditions, but also states that, Plaintiff suffers from
Paranoid personality disorder. 7 (ECF No. 107-1 at 10.) Plaintiff also alleges that he had to go to
the doctor for documentation of “two serious medical conditions” that were caused by among other
things, “mental anguish.” (ECF No. 1 at 15 ¶ 199-203.)
Plaintiff knew that he suffered from anxiety and had several disorders, and in presenting
this alleged new evidence of Dr. Loring’s Report, Plaintiff simply reiterates what has been or could
have been presented. Because Plaintiff was not diligent in trying to discover evidence of Dr.
Loring’s Report, and moreover, because of its cumulative nature, the court will not afford Plaintiff
relief under Rule 60(b)(2).
Defendant rejected this contention, stating that “Plaintiff [ ] opposed production of such
information and has only provided information that he has deemed ‘relevant.’” (ECF No. 96 at 4.)
“Paranoid personality disorder is an unwarranted tendency to interpret the actions of other people
as deliberately threatening or demeaning.” Paranoid Personality Disorder, PSYCHOLOGY TODAY
(Feb. 14, 2017), https://www.psychologytoday.com/conditions/paranoid-personality-disorder (last
visited Oct. 26, 2017.)
For the reasons stated above, Plaintiff’s Motion for Relief from Final Judgment is
DENIED with prejudice. (ECF No. 107.)
IT IS SO ORDERED.
United States District Judge
October 27, 2017
Columbia, South Carolina
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