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Allen v. Johnson

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

June 10, 2015




This matter is before the Court on the Motion for New Trial; Altering or Amending a Judgment (Doc. 110) filed by Plaintiff, Derrick Allen, seeking a new trial based on Fed.R.Civ.P. 59. Defendant, Jeh Johnson, opposes the motion (Doc. 112), and Plaintiff has filed a reply. (Doc. 113). After careful review of the submissions of the parties and the relevant law, the Court denies Plaintiff’s motion.


On March 22, 2011, Derrick Allen (“Plaintiff”), a pro se plaintiff, filed a complaint (Doc. 3) against Defendant under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. (“Title VII”), alleging claims of retaliation, hostile work environment, and disparate treatment.[1]

Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 90) on June 13, 2014. Plaintiff opposed the motion. (Doc. 92). A status conference was held on September 18, 2014, at which time Plaintiff was ordered to file a supplemental brief in opposition. (Doc. 102). Following the filing of Plaintiff’s Supplemental Response (Doc. 103), Defendant filed a Motion for Leave to File Reply Brief (Doc. 104), which was granted. (Doc. 105). Defendant’s Reply was filed on December 15, 2014. (Doc. 107).

After considering the parties’ briefs (Docs. 90, 92, 102, and 107) and the applicable law, this Court granted Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment, finding that Plaintiff failed to meet his burden of proving a prima facie case of retaliation or racial discrimination under Title VII.[2] (Doc. 108). On January 5, 2015, judgment was entered in favor of Defendant, dismissing with prejudice all of Plaintiff’s claims. (Doc. 109).


Plaintiff has filed the present motion for a new trial under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59, seeking to have this Court “open the judgment to take additional testimony, amend findings of fact and conclusions of law and make new ones and direct the entry of a new judgment.” (Doc. 110, p. 1). Specifically, Plaintiff seeks reconsideration of the judgment based on (1) the affidavit of William Wilson (Doc. 110-1, pp. 2-4), (2) an unsworn email from Laketa Lewis to Fern Cotton (Doc. 110-1, p.), and (3) the affidavit of Juan Parker (Doc. 113-1, p. 2). Additionally, Plaintiff requests that the Court hear the verbal testimony of four witnesses – William Wilson, Juan Parker, Leon Tarver, and Malcolm Summers. (Doc. 110). Plaintiff’s motion was deposited into the mail on February 2, 2015, (Doc. 110-1, p. 50) and was received by the clerk on February 3, 2015. (See Doc. 110, p. 1).

Defendant has opposed the motion, asserting that (1) because Plaintiff did not timely file his rule 59 motion, the Court must construe the motion as one made under Rule 60(b); (2) Plaintiff has not met the standard for vacating a judgment under Rule 60(b); and (3) even if Plaintiff’s motion was timely filed, Plaintiff cannot meet the standard for a new trial under Rule 59. (Doc. 112, p. 5-13).

In response, Plaintiff asserts that his motion was timely because it was mailed on the last day for filing of a Rule 59 motion. (Doc. 113, pp. 1-3). Additionally, Plaintiff argues that he has met the standard for a new trial under Rule 59 because he has “new evidence” which he exercised due diligence to obtain. (Id. at 4-5).


A. Filing in the United States District Courts

Plaintiff cites “FRCP Rule 29” for the notion that a document is timely filed if postmarked on or before the last day of filing. (Doc. 113, p. 1-2). However, Plaintiff has mistakenly cited United States Supreme Court Rule 29 as Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 29.[3](Id. at p. 1). Although Supreme Court Rule 29 does allow for timely filing if postmarked by the filing deadline, this Court is governed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, not by the Rules of the Supreme Court. Fed.R.Civ.P. 1 (“These rules govern the procedure in all civil actions and proceedings in the United States district courts.”). Therefore, this Court is required to follow Fed.R.Civ.P. 5(d) which defines “filing” of a paper document as delivery either “(1) to the clerk; or (2) to a judge who agrees to accept it for filing.”

Under well-established precedent, “compliance with a filing requirement is not satisfied by mailing the necessary papers within the allotted time.” Scott v. U.S. Veteran's Admin., 749 F.Supp. 133, 135 (W.D. La. 1990), aff'd, 929 F.2d 146 (5th Cir. 1991) (quoting Lee v. Dallas County Board of Education, 578 F.2d 1177, 1178 n. 1 (5th Cir.1978) (emphasis in original)); see also Raymond v. Ameritech Corp., 442 F.3d 600, 605 (7th Cir. 2006) (“[T]he Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not authorize filing to be accomplished by deposit of papers in the mail.”). Instead, a document is considered “filed” when it is placed in the clerk’s possession. U.S. ex rel. Mathews ...

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