Bell v. Shelby County Schools et al
ORDER adopting DE 31 Report and Recommendations and granting DE 27 Motion for Summary Judgment signed by Judge John T. Fowlkes, Jr. on 7/20/2017. (Fowlkes, John)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE
SHELBY COUNTY SCHOOLS,
Case No. 16-cv-2311-JTF-dkv
ORDER ADOPTING THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE’S REPORT AND
RECOMMENDATION AND GRANTING SHELBY COUNTY SCHOOLS’
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Before the Court is the Defendant Shelby County Schools’ (“SCS”) Motion for Summary
Judgment that was filed on April 28, 2017. 1 (ECF No. 27). Plaintiff did not file a response in
opposition to the motion for summary judgment. The matter was referred to the United States
Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). On July 5, 2017, the Magistrate Judge
issued a Report and Recommendation that the Court grant the Defendant’s Motion for Summary
Judgment. (ECF No. 31). Plaintiff has not filed any objections to the Magistrate Judge’s report
and recommendation. Upon a de novo review, the Court finds the report and recommendation
should be adopted in full.
The Defendant notes that it is improperly named in the Complaint as Shelby County Schools and should
be identified as Shelby County Board of Education (“SCBE”). The Court has used “SCBE” and
“SCBOE” interchangeably based on the Magistrate Judge’s reference to Defendant as “SCBOE” in the
report and recommendation. (ECF No. 27, p. 1 fn.1 and ECF No. 31).
I. LEGAL STANDARD
Congress passed 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) “to relieve some of the burden on the federal courts by
permitting the assignment of certain district court duties to magistrates.”
See e.g. Baker v.
Peterson, 67 Fed. App’x. 308, 311 (6th Cir. 2003) and Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(a). A district court
judge must review dispositive motions under the de novo standard. See Matthews v. Weber, 423
U.S. 261, 275 (1976); Baker, 67 Fed. App’x. at 311 and 28 U.S.C. § 636 (b)(1)(B). After
review, the district court is free to accept, reject or modify the magistrate judge’s proposed
findings or recommendations. See Thomas, 474 U.S. 140, 150 (1985).
Any party who disagrees with a Magistrate Judge’s recommendation may file written
objections. Id., 474 U.S. at 142; Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b), 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C) and Tenn. West.
LR 72.1(g)(2). A failure to file specific objections to a magistrate judge’s report does not meet
the requirement of filing an objection at all.
Howard v. Secretary of Health and Human
Services, 932 F.2d 505, 509 (6th Cir 1991); McCready v. Kamminga, 113 Fed. App’x. 47, 49
(6th Cir. 2004). A district judge should adopt the findings and rulings of the magistrate judge to
which no specific objection is filed. Brown v. Board of Educ. of Shelby County Schools, 47
F.Supp.3d 665, 674 (W.D. Tenn. 2014).
Plaintiff has not filed any timely objections to the Magistrate Judge’s proposed findings of
fact. Therefore, the Court adopts the Magistrate Judge’s factual summary of this case.
The Magistrate Judge first determined that Plaintiff has satisfied the four prongs of a prima
facie case of retaliation under Title VII: 1) Bell acted in a manner protected by Title VII; 2)
SCBE knew of this exercise of protected activity; 3) SCBE subsequently took a materially
adverse action against Bell; and 4) the adverse action had a causal connection to the protected
activity. Burlington N. & Santa Fe Ry. Co. v. White, 548 U.S. 53, 68 (2006); McDonnell
Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973). The Magistrate Judge determined that in filing
the Title VII charge, Plaintiff satisfied the first prong. She also concluded that Shelby County
Board of Education (“SCBOE”) was aware of the charge and subsequently took adverse action
against Plaintiff, in satisfaction of prongs two and three. Finally, because Plaintiff was
terminated only three days after filing her harassment complaint, the Magistrate Judge concluded
that Plaintiff demonstrated that the adverse action was causally connected to her exercise of
protected activity. Howlington v. Quality Restaurant Concepts, LLC, 298 Fed. App’x 436, 447
(6th Cir. 2008); Nguyen v. City of Cleveland, 229 F.3d 559, 563 (6th Cir. 2000).
Although Bell sufficiently pled a prima facie case of retaliation, the Magistrate Judge
determined that SCBE adequately articulated a legitimate and nondiscriminatory reason for
terminating Bell’s employment. Texas Dep’t of Community Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248,
253 (1981)(the burden shifts to the defendant to articulate a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason
for the employee’s rejection). The Magistrate Judge concluded that SCBE adequately
demonstrated that Plaintiff’s repeated violations of DRs 07, 10, 13 & 22, providing legitimate
and nondiscriminatory reasons for her termination in accordance with DR 02.
Lastly, the Magistrate Judge noted that Bell has not demonstrated by a preponderance of
the evidence that any of the legitimate reasons offered above were a pretext for discrimination or
retaliation. Manzer v. Diamond Shamrock Chems. Co., 29 F.3d 1078, 1084 (6th Cir. 1994),
overruled on other grounds, Geiger v. Tower Auto., 579 F.3d 614 (6th Cir. 2009)(citation
omitted). The Court agrees. Plaintiff did not file a response to SCBE’s motion for summary
judgment or statement of undisputed material facts. Further, Plaintiff did not file any objections
to the Magistrate Judge’s report and recommendation pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(2). After
reviewing SCBE’s motion for summary judgment, the Court finds the Magistrate Judge correctly
concluded that SCBE has offered legitimate and nondiscriminatory reasons for terminating
Upon a de novo review and without objections by Plaintiff, the Court finds the
Magistrate Judge’s report and recommendation should be adopted in full and the Defendant’s
Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 27, Granted.
Accordingly, the case is ordered
IT IS SO ORDERED on this 20th day of July, 2017.
s/John T. Fowlkes, Jr.
JOHN T. FOWLKES, JR.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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