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Jones v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

November 6, 2019

KIM N. JONES
v.
WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A.

         SECTION "F"

          ORDER AND REASONS

          MARTIN L. C. FELDMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is the plaintiff's motion to amend judgment. For the reasons that follow, the motion is DENIED.

         Background

         This Title VII employment discrimination and state law whistleblower lawsuit arises from a 58-year-old African American woman's claim that Wells Fargo wrongfully terminated her employment as a home mortgage consultant after 16 months on the job.

         The Court assumes familiarity with its September 23, 2019 Order and Reasons in which it granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment and dismissed each of the plaintiff's claims. From August 14, 2015 until her termination on December 10, 2016, Kim Jones worked for Wells Fargo as a mortgage loan officer. During her employment, she failed to meet the minimum production standards Wells Fargo required of mortgage loan officers. In September 2016, Wells Fargo placed Jones on a performance improvement plan, which set forth specific requirements she had to meet to remain employed. She failed to meet them. In December 2016, her employment was terminated.

         On September 6, 2017, Ms. Jones, pro se, sued Wells Fargo, Stephen Cook, Jamie Klinnert (improperly named as Jaime Kleinhart), and Maurice Williams, alleging that she was fired because of her whistleblowing, refusing to participate in illegal activity, engaging in protected activity, and because of race, sex, and age discrimination.[1] After retaining counsel, Ms. Jones amended her complaint alleging that she was discriminated against based on her age, sex, and race; that Wells Fargo retaliated against her because she reported and refused to participate in mortgage fraud; and that Wells Fargo failed to pay her timely earnings and commissions.

         Wells Fargo moved for summary relief. After continuing the hearing on the motion several times, including to allow the plaintiff the opportunity to discover certain evidence as ordered by the magistrate judge, the Court granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment. On October 16, 2019, judgment was entered in favor of Wells Fargo and against Ms. Jones. Ms. Jones, pro se, now seeks reconsideration of the Court's judgment dismissing her lawsuit with prejudice.

         I.

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not expressly recognize motions for reconsideration. Nevertheless, the Court must consider motions challenging a judgment as either a motion “to alter or amend” under Rule 59(e) or a motion for “relief from judgment” under Rule 60(b). A motion seeking reconsideration or revision of a district court ruling is analyzed under Rule 59(e), if it seeks to alter or amend a final judgment, or Rule 54(b), if it seeks to revise an interlocutory order. See, e.g., Cabral v. Brennan, 853 F.3d 763, 766 (5th Cir. 2017)(determining that the district court's erroneous application of the “more exacting” Rule 59(e) standard to a motion granting partial summary judgment was harmless error given that the appellant was not harmed by the procedural error).

         “A motion to alter or amend a judgment must be filed no later than 28 days after the entry of judgment.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e). Rule 59(e) allows a court to alter or amend a judgment if the movant establishes a manifest error of law or presents newly discovered evidence. Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e). It “serve[s] the narrow purpose of allowing a party to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence, ” and it is “an extraordinary remedy that should be used sparingly.” Austin v. Kroger Texas, L.P., 864 F.3d 326, 336 (5th Cir. 2017)(quoting Templet v. HydroChem Inc., 367 F.3d 473, 479 (5th Cir. 2004)). “A Rule 59(e) motion ‘calls into question the correctness of a judgment.'” Templet, 367 F.3d at 478 (quoting In re Transtexas Gas Corp., 303 F.3d 571, 581 (5th Cir. 2002)). Because of the interest in finality, Rule 59(e) motions may only be granted if the moving party shows there was a mistake of law or fact or presents newly discovered evidence that could not have been discovered previously. Id. at 478-79. Rule 59 motions should not be used to relitigate old matters, raise new arguments, or submit evidence that could have been presented earlier in the proceedings. See id. at 479; Rosenblatt v. United Way of Greater Houston, 607 F.3d 413, 419 (5th Cir. 2010)(“a motion to alter or amend the judgment under Rule 59(e) ‘must clearly establish either a manifest error of law or fact or must present newly discovered evidence' and ‘cannot be used to raise arguments which could, and should, have been made before the judgment issued'”)(citing Rosenzweig v. Azurix Corp., 332 F.3d 854, 864 (5th Cir. 2003)(quoting Simon v. United States, 891 F.2d 1154, 1159 (5th Cir. 1990)). The Court must balance two important judicial imperatives in deciding a motion for reconsideration: “(1) the need to bring the litigation to an end; and (2) the need to render just decisions on the basis of all the facts.” Templet, 367 F.3d at 479.

         II.

         The Court granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment, dismissing the plaintiff's claims with prejudice. See Order and Reasons dtd. 9/23/19. A judgment in favor of the defendant was issued on October 16, 2019. That same day, the Court granted the motion to withdraw filed by plaintiff's counsel. Five days later, Ms. Jones, pro se, filed this motion requesting that the judgment be amended “based on substantive errors found in Wells Fargo's filings and data that were overlooked by the court and establishes a clear error of fact.” The plaintiff's Rule 59 motion must be denied.

         Rule 59(e) applies because Ms. Jones challenges the Court's adverse judgment within 28 days of its entry. Although the defendant has failed to submit any opposition papers, the Court finds that Jones's motion fails to identify anything that would persuade the Court that it erred in granting Wells Fargo's motion for summary judgment dismissing each of her claims. Reading Jones's Rule 59 motion generously, she fails to identify either a manifest error of law or fact. Nor does she offer any newly discovered evidence. Her submission is part-rehash of her counsel's prior submissions and part-diatribe.[2] She offers no citation to the voluminous summary judgment record considered by the Court, nor does she invoke binding law calling into question the correctness of the Court's ruling. The Court ...


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