United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
CHARLES ADAMS, ET AL.
UNITED ASSOCIATION OF JOURNEYMEN AND APPRENTICES OF THE PLUMBING AND PIPEFITTING INDUSTRY OF THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA, AFL-CIO, LOCAL 198, ET AL. CIVIL ACTION
W. deGRAVELLES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on a Motion to Amend
Ruling by Defendant, United Association of Journeymen
and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of
the United States and Canada, AFL-CIO, Local 198,
(“Local 198” or “Defendant”), (Doc.
702), which Local 198 subsequently moved to strike,
in part, (Doc. 720). Plaintiffs opposed Local 198's
motion. (Doc. 714). Also, before the Court is Plaintiffs'
Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration. (Doc. 717).
Local 198 opposed Plaintiffs' motion. (Doc. 724).
Plaintiffs filed a reply. (Doc. 725). Oral argument is not
necessary. The Court has carefully considered the law, the
facts in the record, and the arguments and the submissions of
the parties and is prepared to rule. For the following
reasons, Defendant's Motion to Amend Ruling is granted in
part and denied in part; Defendant's Motion to Strike
Motion to Amend Ruling is granted; and Plaintiffs'
Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration is denied.
Court ruled on Local 198's motion for summary judgment
based on the timeliness of some of the Plaintiffs'
claims, (Doc. 639), on July 18, 2019. (Doc. 700). In response
to this ruling, Local 198 filed a motion to amend the ruling.
(Doc. 702). Plaintiffs also filed a series of motions for
reconsideration, (Docs. 705, 707, 708, 709, 711 and 712),
which were dismissed without prejudice, and Plaintiffs were
ordered to file one omnibus motion for reconsideration. (Doc.
715). Plaintiffs complied with the order and filed an omnibus
motion for reconsideration on August 10, 2019. (Doc. 717).
Also relevant to the motions presently before the Court is
Local 198's motion to strike a portion of its motion to
amend the ruling on its motion for summary judgment. (Doc.
Relevant Standard - Motion to Amend/Motion for
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not formally
recognize the existence of motions for reconsideration
(e.g., Van Skiver v. United States, 952 F.2d 1241,
1243 (10th Cir. 1991)), courts customarily consider such
motions under Rule 60(b) or Rule 59(e). Fuller v. M.G.
Jewelry, 950 F.2d 1437, 1442 (9th Cir. 1991). Rule 59(e)
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows a party to
move to alter or amend a judgment within twenty-eight (28)
days of its entry. Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 59(e).
courts have considerable discretion in deciding whether to
grant a Rule 59(e) motion. Edward H. Bohlin Co., Inc. v.
Banning Co., Inc., 6 F.3d 350, 355 (5th Cir. 1993). The
factors to be considered in a Rule 59(e) analysis are: (1)
the judgment is based upon a manifest error of fact or law;
(2) newly discovered or previously unavailable evidence
exists; (3) the initial decision was manifestly unjust; (4)
counsel engaged in serious misconduct; and (5) an intervening
change in law alters the appropriate outcome. Livingston
Downs Racing Ass'n, Inc. v. Jefferson Downs Corp.,
259 F.Supp.2d 471, 475-76 (M.D. La. 2002) (citing
Metairie Bank & Trust Co. v. Payne, 2000 WL
979980 (E.D. La. July 17, 2000); Campbell v. St. Tammany
Parish School Bd., 1999 WL 777720 (E.D. La. Sept. 29,
1999)). However, a motion for reconsideration is an
extraordinary remedy and should be used sparingly in the
interest of finality and conservation of judicial resources.
Carroll v. Nakatani, 342 F.3d 943, 945 (9th Cir.
2003). The court should deny a motion for reconsideration
when the movant rehashes legal theories and arguments that
were raised or could have been raised before the entry of the
judgment. See Templet v. HydroChem Inc., 367 F.3d
473, 478-79 (5th Cir. 2004). A motion for reconsideration
does not support old arguments that are reconfigured.
Resolution Trust Corp. v. Holmes, 846 F.Supp. 1310,
1316, n.18 (S.D. Tex. 1994). Mere disagreement with a prior
ruling does not support a Rule 59(e) motion. See e.g.,
Hutchinson v. Staton, 994 F.2d 1076, 1082 (4th Cir.
in the Fifth Circuit are directed to take motions under Rule
59(e) seriously. Two cases note that Rule 59(e) does not
place any particular limitations upon the possible grounds
for relief. Ford v. Elsbury, 32 F.3d 931, 937 (5th
Cir. 1994); Lavespere v. Niagara Mach. & Tool Works,
Inc., 910 F.2d 167, 174 (5th Cir. 1990), cert.
denied, 510 U.S. 859, 114 S.Ct. 171, 126 L.Ed.2d 131
(1993), abrogated on other grounds by Little v. Liquid
Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069 (5th Cir. 1994)(en
banc). The Court notes the Fifth Circuit's general
principle that “the district court must strike a proper
balance between two competing interests: ‘the need to
bring litigation to an end and the need to render just
decisions.'” Ford v. Elsbury, 32 F.3d at
937 (quoting Lavespere, supra).
Local 198's Motion to Amend Ruling (Doc.
198's motion asks the Court to reconsider that part of
this Court's prior ruling, (Doc. 700), where the Court
allowed certain Plaintiffs to piggyback their Title VII
claims upon those by Plaintiff Lee Fox and/or Plaintiff
Earnest Ford. (Doc. 702). Specifically, this Court previously
found that Fox's Title VII claims were untimely. (Doc.
700, pp. 49-50). Local 198 argues that those Plaintiffs who
attempted to piggyback upon Fox's Title VII claims should
also have their Title VII claims dismissed as untimely. (Doc.
oppose Local 198's motion. (Doc. 714). Plaintiffs
incorporate by reference the arguments they made in two of
their original motions for reconsideration. (Docs. 705 and
707). Specifically, Plaintiffs argue that Fox's Title VII
claims were, in fact, timely; therefore, Plaintiffs should be
allowed to piggyback upon Fox's Title VII claims to
render their own claims timely. (Doc. 707). Even if Fox's
Title VII claims are untimely, Plaintiffs argue that there
are Plaintiffs other than Fox upon whose claims Plaintiffs
may piggyback in order to render their claims timely. (Doc.
reasons more fully set forth below in the section addressing
Plaintiffs' Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration, the Court
rejects Plaintiffs' arguments, primarily because
Plaintiffs did not raise them in opposition to the underlying
motion for summary judgment and could have done so. (Docs.
646, 648, 687, 688, 692). Local 198, in its motion to strike
motion to amend ruling, also noted that Plaintiffs
“raised an issue that they never raised in their
opposition”. (Doc. 720-1, p. 1 (citing Rec. Doc. 645)).
Plaintiffs are making these arguments for the first time
after the entry of judgment. The law does not support
consideration of arguments that could have been raised before
the entry of judgment on reconsideration. See
Templet, 367 F.3d at 478-79.
Court now turns to address the Title VII claims of which
Local 198 seeks reconsideration.
Frank Cage; Yvonne Catherine (heir to Joseph Catherine);
Umeca O'Conner (heir to Joseph Catherine); Corey
Catherine (heir to Joseph Catherine); Leo Davis; Kevin
Gauthier; Larry Gilmore; and Michael Jackson
198 first argues that because Plaintiff Fox's Title VII
claims were not timely, then certain Plaintiffs should not be
allowed to piggyback upon Fox's untimely claims, thus
rendering those Plaintiffs' Title VII claims also
untimely. (Doc. 702-1, p. 1).
ruling on Local 198's motion for summary judgment
regarding the timeliness of certain Plaintiffs' claims,
the Court considered the timeliness of Plaintiff Lee
Fox's Title VII claims and found that these claims were
untimely because Fox filed his EEOC charge almost three years
after filing suit and, therefore, did not exhaust his
administrative remedies before filing suit. (Doc. 700, p.
50). Fox's claims under Title VII were dismissed with
same ruling, the Court considered the timeliness of various
other Plaintiffs' Title VII claims. The timeliness of
these certain Plaintiffs' Title VII claims was dependent
upon piggybacking upon Plaintiff Fox's Title VII claims.
The Court ruled that the following Plaintiffs' Title VII
claims were timely based on piggybacking on Fox's Title
VII claims: Frank Cage, (Doc. 700, pp. 31-35); Yvonne
Catherine (heir to Joseph Catherine), (Doc. 700, pp. 35-38);
Umeca O'Conner (heir to Joseph Catherine), (Doc. 700, p.
38); Corey Catherine (heir to Joseph Catherine), (Doc. 700,
p. 38); Leo Davis, (Doc. 700, pp. 41-44); Kevin Gauthier,
(Doc. 700, pp. 58-60); Larry Gilmore, (Doc. 700, pp. 60-63);
and Michael Jackson, (Doc. 700, pp. 65-67). This ruling was
in error. Because Fox's Title VII claims were found to be
untimely, these certain Plaintiffs' Title VII claims are
also untimely. Plaintiffs may only piggyback upon a timely
filed Title VII claim. Price v. Choctaw Glove, 459
F.3d 595, 598 (5th Cir. 2006); Frank v. Xerox Corp.,
347 F.3d 130, 136 (5th Cir. 2003).
Plaintiffs Cage, the Catherine heirs, Davis, Gauthier,
Gilmore, and Jackson, were all named as Plaintiffs in the
original Complaint filed on May 1, 1998. Therefore, it would
be futile for the Court to consider whether they may
piggyback their Title VII claims upon Plaintiff Ford's
Title VII claims, as Ford was not named until the First
Amended Complaint, filed on July 27, 2001. In other words,
Ford's suit did not exist on May 1, 1998, for those
Plaintiffs to piggyback upon it.
Rule 59(e), the Court finds that its prior ruling on Local
198's motion for summary judgment was manifestly
erroneous in part. See, e.g., Eckhardt v. Qualitest
Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 889 F.Supp.2d 901 (S.D. Tex. Aug.
9, 2012)(“'Manifest error' is one that
‘is plain and indisputable…'”.). The
Court erroneously allowed Plaintiffs Cage, the Catherine
heirs, Davis, Gauthier, Gilmore, and Jackson, to piggyback
upon the untimely Title VII claims of Plaintiff Fox. Also,
reconsideration of this Court's prior ruling would not be
futile, as the Court is able to correct its error. See
Ferraro v. Liberty Mut. Fir Ins. Co., 796 F.3d 529, 534
(5th Cir. 2015)(A motion to reconsider under Rule 59(e)
should be granted only if the facts discovered are of such a
nature that they would probably change the outcome.).
Therefore, the Court grants Local 198's motion to amend
its ruling, and having reconsidered its ruling in this
regard, the Court amends its ruling to find that the Title
VII claims of the following Plaintiffs are untimely and,
therefore, dismissed with prejudice: Frank Cage;
Yvonne Catherine (heir to Joseph Catherine); Umeca
O'Conner (heir to Joseph Catherine); Corey Catherine
(heir to Joseph Catherine); Leo Davis; Kevin Gauthier; Larry
Gilmore; and Michael Jackson.
198 also seeks to amend the Court's prior ruling to
dismiss the Title VII claims of Plaintiff John Green for the
same reasons as stated immediately above. However, Local
198's motion for summary judgment was denied as to
Green's Title VII claims because the Court found a
genuine issue of material fact as to whether Green had filed
an EEOC charge of his own. (See Doc. 700, pp.
64-65). Green's Title VII claims were not found to be
timely based on the application of the piggyback rule and/or
Fox's Title VII claims. Therefore, the Court maintains
its prior ruling regarding Green's Title VII claims.
Green's claims under Title VII remain pending.
Joseph Collins, Earnest Johnson, Carl Judson, and Ivan
198 also moves the Court to amend its ruling regarding the
Title VII claims of Plaintiffs Joseph Collins, Earnest
Johnson, Carl Judson, and Ivan Morgan. (Doc. 702-1, p. 3).
Local 198 argues that these four Plaintiffs filed suit on
July 27, 2001, in the First Amended Complaint and should not
be allowed to piggyback upon Fox's untimely Title VII
claims. Local 198 is correct that these four Plaintiffs
cannot have timely Title VII claims that are dependent upon
piggybacking on Fox's untimely Title VII claims. For that
reason, as is explained more fully above, it was erroneous
for the Court to find that these four Plaintiffs' Title
VII claims were timely. However, because these Plaintiffs
filed suit at the same time as Plaintiff Ford, whose Title
VII claims were found to be timely, these Plaintiffs may be
allowed to piggyback upon Ford's claims. The Court did
not analyze whether these four Plaintiffs' Title VII
claims could piggyback upon Ford's claims in its prior
ruling, and the Court endeavors to do so now in the interest
of correcting its prior ruling and a just result.