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Perkins v. Pel Hughes Printing, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

January 22, 2019

KATHY PERKINS
v.
PEL HUGHES PRINTING, LLC ET AL.

         SECTION A(4)

          ORDER AND REASONS

          JUDGE JAY C. ZAINEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is a Motion for Reconsideration (Rec. Doc. 66) filed by Defendants Pel Hughes Printing, LLC and John Victor Hughes (hereinafter collectively referred to as “Defendants”). The Motion, set for submission on January 9, 2019, is before the Court on the briefs without oral argument. The Court has also received and reviewed Defendants' reply (Rec. Doc. 70) and Plaintiff's response (Rec. Doc. 71). Having considered the motion and memoranda of counsel, the record, and the applicable law, the Court finds that the Motion for Reconsideration (Rec. Doc. 66) is GRANTED.

         I. Background

         Kathy Perkins worked for Pel Hughes Printing, LLC (“PHP”) as a Human Resource Administrator. (Rec. Doc. 1, Exhibit A ¶ 5). On December 30, 2015, Perkins was admitted into Ochsner Hospital's Outpatient Behavioral Mental Unit Program due to alleged verbal abuse by John Victor Hughes, president of PHP. (Id, ¶¶ 9-12). After being diagnosed with stress, depression, and anxiety, Perkins remained in the hospital for two weeks. (Id., ¶ 12). While this leave was covered by the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), Hughes allegedly called Perkins' disabled daughter, Aubrey Pitre, and told her that, “Unless [Perkins] comes back to work soon, I'll have to let her go.” (Id. ¶¶ 13-14). Perkins asserts that she returned to work against her physician's advice on January 18, 2016, out of fear of termination. (Id., ¶ 16).

         Defendants assert that on January 18, 2016, Hughes' wife had a conversation with Perkins which resulted in an “agreement” that PHP would terminate Perkins' employment after ninety days. (Rec. Doc. 25-5, p. 2). On April 4, 2016, Perkins took a scheduled day off to receive an epidural. (Rec. Doc. 1, Exhibit A ¶ 21). The next day, Perkins experienced a mental breakdown and was admitted to Ochsner Hospital for suicidal ideations. (Id.). Perkins remained hospitalized until April 13, 2016. PHP terminated Perkins' employment on May 2, 2016. (Id., ¶¶ 21, 26).

         Perkins filed suit alleging that Defendants violated the FMLA regarding the leave she took in January 2016 and that Defendants intentionally inflicted emotional distress. (Id. ¶¶ 14, 32). Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on all of Plaintiff's claims. (Rec. Doc. 25). Plaintiff filed an opposition to the motion (Rec. Doc. 61) and Defendants replied (Rec. Doc. 64). On December 4, 2018, this Court granted summary judgment in part as to Plaintiff's claims under the FMLA and denied summary judgment in part as to Plaintiff's claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress (“IIED”). (Rec. Doc. 65). Defendants now move this Court to reconsider the judgment regarding the denial of summary judgment on Plaintiff's claim for IIED.

         II. Legal Standard

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not recognize a motion for reconsideration. Bass v. United States Dep't of Agric., 211 F.3d 959, 962 (5th Cir. 2000). Nevertheless, the Fifth Circuit has treated a motion for reconsideration as a motion to alter or amend judgment pursuant to Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure when filed twenty-eight days after entry of the judgment from which relief is being sought. Hamilton Plaintiffs v. Williams Plaintiffs, 147 F.3d 367, 371 n.10 (5th Cir. 1998); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e). A Rule 59(e) motion may be granted on four grounds: “(1) to correct manifest errors of law or fact upon which judgment is based, (2) the availability of new evidence, (3) the need to prevent manifest injustice, or (4) an intervening change in controlling law.” Lines v. Fairfield Ins. Co., No. 08-1045, 2010 WL 4338636, at *1 (E.D. La. Oct. 21, 2010) (citing Peterson v. Cigna Group Ins., No. 99-2112, 2002 WL 1268404, at *2 (E.D. La. June 5, 2002)). “The Court enjoys considerable discretion in granting or denying such a motion.” Gabarick v. Laurin Mar. (America) Inc., No. 08-4007, 2010 WL 5437391, at *5 (E.D. La. Dec. 23, 2010) (citing Boyd's Bit Serv., Inc. v. Specialty Rental Tool & Supply, Inc., 332 F.Supp.2d 938, 939 (W.D. La 2004)). The Fifth Circuit has held that a Rule 59(e) motion is not the proper vehicle for “rehashing evidence, legal theories, or arguments that could have been offered or raised before the entry of judgment.” Templet v. HydroChem Inc., 367 F.3d 473, 479 (5th Cir. April 2004).

         III. Discussion

         In its Order and Reasons (Rec. Doc. 65), the Court found that Plaintiff's opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment was based primarily on her self-serving affidavit. Thus, the Court ordered Perkins to submit to a deposition within the following forty-five days. (Rec. Doc. 65, p. 6). In the instant motion, Defendants assert that Perkins was deposed prior to submission of her opposition, and she is still unable to present evidence in support of her claim for IIED. (Rec. Doc. 66, p. 1). Upon the Court's request, Defendants' counsel provided the Court with a copy of Perkins' entire deposition. Considering the new evidence, the Court now takes under consideration the Motion for Summary Judgment (Rec. Doc. 25) regarding Perkins' claim for IIED.

         A. Summary Judgment

         Summary judgment is appropriate only if “the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, ” when viewed in the light most favorable to the non-movant, “show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact.” TIG Ins. Co. v. Sedgwick James, 276 F.3d 754, 759 (5th Cir.2002) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249-50 (1986)). A dispute about a material fact is “genuine” if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Id. (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248). The court must draw all justifiable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Id. (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255). Once the moving party has initially shown “that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's cause, ” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986), the non-movant must come forward with “specific facts” showing a genuine factual issue for trial. Id. (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)). Conclusory allegations and denials, speculation, improbable inferences, unsubstantiated assertions, and legalistic argumentation do not adequately substitute for specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial. Id. (citing SEC v. Recile, 10 F.3d 1093, 1097 (5th Cir.1993)).

         B. Intentional Infliction of ...


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