United States District Court, S.D. New York
March 18, 2015
WOODROW WILSON PREACELY, JR., Plaintiff,
AAA TYPING & RESUME, INC. AND MS. DENISE HIDALGO, Defendants.
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
ANALISA TORRES, District Judge.
In this action, Plaintiff pro se, Woodrow Wilson Preacely, Jr., alleges that Defendants pro se, AAA Typing & Resume, Inc. and Denise Hidalgo, violated the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 et seq., and the New York Labor Law. Plaintiff moves and Defendant Hildago cross-moves for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Before the Court is the Report and Recommendation (the "R & R") of Magistrate Judge Ronald L. Ellis, which proposes that: (1) Plaintiff's motion be denied; (2) Hidalgo's motion be granted; and (3) the case be dismissed with prejudice. Plaintiff filed timely objections to the R & R. For the reasons stated below, the Court ADOPTS the R & R in its entirety.
I. Standard of Review
A district court "may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). When a party makes specific objections, the court reviews de novo those portions of the R & R to which objection is made. Id.; Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). However, "when a party makes only conclusory or general objections, or simply reiterates his original arguments, " the court reviews the R & R strictly for clear error. Easterly v. Tri-Star Transport Corp., 11 Civ. 6365, 2015 WL 337565, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 23, 2015); see also Olorode v. Streamingedge, Inc., 11 Civ. 6934, 2014 WL 3974581, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 13, 2014) ("[O]bjections that are not clearly aimed at particular findings in the [R & R] do not trigger de novo review."). "[N]ew arguments and factual assertions cannot properly be raised for the first time in objections to the [R & R], and indeed may not be deemed objections at all." Razzoli v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 12 Civ. 3774, 2014 WL 2440771, at *5 (S.D.N.Y. May 30, 2014). The court may adopt those portions of the R & R to which no objection is made "as long as no clear error is apparent from the face of the record." Guan Ming Lin v. Benihana New York Corp., 10 Civ. 1335, 2013 WL 829098, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 27, 2013) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
" Pro se parties are generally accorded leniency when making objections." Pinkney v. Progressive Home Health Servs., 06 Civ. 5023, 2008 WL 2811816, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. July 21, 2008). "Nonetheless, even a pro se party's objections to a[n] [R & R] must be specific and clearly aimed at particular findings in the magistrate's proposal, such that no party be allowed a second bite at the apple' by simply relitigating a prior argument." Id. (citation omitted).
II. Plaintiff's Objections
A. Prompt Adjudication
First, Plaintiff takes issue with the fact that nearly a year elapsed between the completion of briefing on the motions for summary judgment and the issuance of the R & R. Pl. Objs. 2, ECF No. 32. Specifically, Plaintiff argues that Judge Ellis failed to "promptly adjudicate" the matter in violation of Rule 72 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Id. ; see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(1) ("A magistrate judge must promptly conduct the required proceedings when assigned... to hear a pretrial matter dispositive of a claim or defense...."). This objection is not "aimed at particular findings in the [R & R], " and, therefore, "do[es] not trigger de novo review." Olorode, 2014 WL 3974581, at *1. In any event, the Court rejects Plaintiff's contention that Judge Ellis acted in contravention of Rule 72.
B. Electronic Docketing
Second, Plaintiff claims that "Judge Ellis was a compromised jurist [based on the] fact that none of the parties' motion papers were ever scanned into the court's PACER system." Pl. Objs. 3. This objection likewise "do[es] not trigger de novo review, " as it is not "aimed at particular findings in the [R & R]." Olorode, 2014 WL 3974581, at *1. Moreover, because the parties' motion papers have since been filed on the public docket, the objection is moot.
C. Rooker-Feldman, Collateral Estoppel, and Res Judicata
Third, Plaintiff asserts that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, collateral estoppel, and res judicata bar the Court from making its own determination as to whether Plaintiff was Defendants' employee. Pl. Objs. 4-6. With respect to the Rooker-Feldman doctrine and collateral estoppel, Plaintiff does nothing more than rehash the arguments he presented to Judge Ellis. These "objections" do not give rise to de novo review, as they "simply reiterate [Plaintiff's] original arguments." Easterly, 2015 WL 337565, at *1. To find otherwise "would reduce the magistrate's work to something akin to a meaningless dress rehearsal." Vega v. Artuz, 97 Civ. 3775, 2002 WL 31174466, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 30, 2002) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Therefore, the Court reviews this portion of the R & R strictly for clear error, Easterly, 2015 WL 337565, at *1, and finds none. With respect to res judicata, Plaintiff did not raise this argument in his submissions to Judge Ellis. The Court will not consider it for the first time here. See, e.g., Razzoli, 2014 WL 2440771, at *5 ("[N]ew arguments and factual assertions cannot properly be raised for the first time in objections to the [R & R], and indeed may not be deemed objections at all.").
D. Willfulness and the Statute of Limitations
Fourth, Plaintiff objects to Judge Ellis' determination that the three-year statute of limitations for "willful" FLSA violations does not apply to Plaintiff's claims. Pl. Objs. 4, 8; see also R & R 6. In support of this objection, Plaintiff merely offers the same type of conclusory assertions that Judge Ellis found to be insufficient. See Pl. Objs. 4 ("Hidalgo... willfully attempted to portray [P]laintiff as an independent contractor and... hence, the three-year statute of the FLSA does apply...."); id. at 8 ("Hidalgo's deceptions can readily be seen to be willful from the totality of Exhibit B...."); see also Pl. Mem. 9, ECF No. 36 ("Hidalgo was... willfully and deceitfully misclassifying individuals... as independent contractors so she could get out of paying them a minimum wage...."); Pl. Aff. 3, ECF No. 37 ("Hidalgo's non-payment of a minimum wage to [Plaintiff] was a willful violation of the FLSA...."). Thus, the Court finds no reason to disturb Judge Ellis' conclusion that Plaintiff "has failed to allege facts sufficient to warrant application of the three-year statute of limitations." R & R 6; see also, e.g., Llolla v. Karen Gardens Apartment Corp., 12 Civ. 1356, 2014 WL 1310311, at *4 (E.D.N.Y. Mar. 10, 2014) (explaining that conclusory allegations "do not suffice, without more, to establish the defendants' willfulness"); Edwards v. City of New York, 08 Civ. 3134, 2011 WL 3837130, at *5 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 29, 2011) (declining to apply three-year statute of limitations where "plaintiffs rel[ied] solely on... conclusory assertions" and did not "identif[y] any evidence that defendant had actual knowledge of or acted with reckless disregard for its obligations under the FLSA").
E. Third-Party Influence
Finally, Plaintiff contends that the R & R is the product of "some dark issues of third-party influence." Pl. Objs. 12; see also id. at 14 ("Judge Ellis' [R & R] evinces abjectly improper third-party influences to sabotage this action involving an activist litigant."). Because this objection is not "aimed at particular findings in the [R & R], " it "do[es] not trigger de novo review." Olorode, 2014 WL 3974581, at *1. The Court also finds no evidence that Judge Ellis was improperly influenced by any third party.
The Court has reviewed de novo those portions of the R & R to which Plaintiff properly objects and has reviewed the remainder of the R & R for clear error. For the reasons stated, the Court ADOPTS the R & R in its entirety. Plaintiff's motion is DENIED, Hidalgo's motion is GRANTED, and the case is DISMISSED with prejudice.
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3), the Court certifies that any appeal from this order would not be taken in good faith and, therefore, in forma pauperis status is denied for the purpose of any appeal. See Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438, 444-45 (1962).
The Clerk of Court is directed to: (1) terminate the motions at ECF Nos. 35 and 39; (2) mail a copy of this order and all unpublished cases cited therein to the pro se parties; and (3) close the case.