United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
AMIE L. MORNINGSTAR, Plaintiff,
CIRCLEVILLE FIRE & EMS DEPARTMENT, et al., Defendants.
Deavers Magistrate Judge
OPINION & ORDER
ALGENON L. MARBLEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on the Defendants' Motion for
Reconsideration. Defendants request that the Court reconsider
its partial denial of the Defendants' previous Motion for
Summary Judgement with respect to the Plaintiff's Title
VII claims. (ECF No. 54). The Court DENIES
Defendants' Motion for Reconsideration.
December 11, 2015, the Plaintiff, Amie Morningstar, brought
this action against Defendants Circleville Fire Department
& EMS Department (“CFD”), City of
Circleville, and Marc Zingarelli. (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff
alleged, inter alia, causes of action under Title VII for
gender discrimination, retaliation, hostile work environment,
and sexual harassment. (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff was the first
female firefighter in the City of Circleville. (ECF No. 24 at
5). Her claims arise out of the Defendants' actions
before and during her employment as a full-time firefighter.
(ECF No. 1).
moved for summary judgement on April 19, 2017. (ECF No. 17).
After oral argument on that motion, the Court requested
additional briefing regarding whether the Plaintiff's
federal discrimination claims should be dismissed for a
failure to exhaust administrative remedies. (ECF No. 31).
Both parties submitted supplemental briefs and reply briefs
on this issue. (ECFs Nos. 32-35). The Court then granted in
part and denied in part the Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgement. (ECF No. 36). Specifically, the Court
denied summary judgment on the Plaintiff's federal
discrimination claims against the City of Circleville and
CFD. (ECF No. 36 at 39-40). The Court found that Defendants
were estopped from arguing that Plaintiff's failure to
exhaust her administrative remedies should result in
dismissal of her Title VII claims (ECF No. 36 at 13).
Defendants now move for the Court to reconsider its decision
to apply equitable estoppel against them. (ECF No. 54).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e), a court will
reconsider its own prior decision “if the moving party
demonstrates: (1) a clear error of law; (2) newly discovered
evidence that was not previously available to the parties; or
(3) an intervening change in controlling law.”
Owner-Operator Indep. Drivers Ass'n, Inc. v. Arctic
Express, Inc., 288 F.Supp.2d 895, 900 (S.D. Ohio 2003).
Courts may also alter or amend a judgment when necessary
“to prevent manifest injustice.” GenCorp.,
Inc. v. Am. Int'l Underwriters, 178 F.3d 804, 834
(6th Cir. 1999). Reconsideration due to a finding of manifest
injustice or a clear error of law requires “unique
circumstances, ” such as complete failure to address an
issue or claim. McWhorter v. ELSEA, Inc., No.
2:00-CV-473, 2006 WL 3483964, at *2 (S.D. Ohio Nov. 30, 2006)
(citing Collison v. Int'l Chem. Workers Union, Local
217, 34 F.3d 233, 236 (4th Cir. 1994)). Even for motions
to reconsider interlocutory orders, courts respect the
importance of “grant[ing] some measure of
finality… and [of] discourag[ing] the filing of
endless motions for reconsideration” in applying the
relevant criteria. Id. A motion under Rule 59(e) may
not be brought to relitigate issues previously considered by
the Court or to present evidence that could have been raised
earlier. See J.P. v. Taft, No. C2-04-692, 2006 WL
689091, at *3 (S.D. Ohio Mar. 15, 2006).
argue that “this Court's decision that the doctrine
of equitable estoppel excused Plaintiff's failure to
exhaust her administrative remedies under Title VII was a
clear error of law” and that therefore this Court
should reconsider its denial of summary judgment on
Plaintiff's Title VII claims. (ECF No. 54 at 2). This
Court does not agree. The Court has already considered all
issues which Defendants now raise and maintains that it
properly applied equitable estoppel in its previous order.
present motion does not rely on any evidence that was
unavailable to the Defendants at the time of their
supplemental brief, nor does it rely on any intervening
change in the governing law. Rather, Defendants argue that
this Court committed a clear legal error by applying
equitable estoppel to prevent Defendants from raising the
Plaintiff's failure to exhaust her administrative
remedies. (ECF No. 54 at 2). To receive reconsideration based
on a clear error of law alone, Defendants must show
“unique circumstances” such as a court's
total failure to address an issue. See 2006 WL
3483964 at *2 (citing Collison v. Int'l Chem. Workers
Union, Local 217, 34 F.3d 233, 236 (4th Cir. 1994)
(granting reconsideration because the court had failed to
address a due process claim)). Defendants have failed to show
such circumstances. The Court addressed the exhaustion and
estoppel issues in its order on summary judgement (ECF No. 36
must be an end to litigation someday.” Ackerman v.
U.S., 340 U.S. 193, 211-12 (1950) (denying relief for a
petitioner who failed to make a timely appeal). Absent newly
discovered evidence or an intervening change in law, once
parties have had the opportunity to submit arguments to the
court and the court has examined the surrounding doctrine, it
is time for litigation to end - at the trial level at least.
See McWhorter, 2006 WL 3483964 at *2. Such is the
parties have presented their arguments regarding the
exhaustion requirement through a variety of avenues already.
Defendants argued that the Plaintiff's Title VII claims
should be dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative
remedies in their motion for summary judgement. (ECF No. 17
at 8). Although the Plaintiff's response to that motion
did not address the exhaustion argument, the Plaintiff
presented relevant counterarguments at the subsequent
hearing. (ECF No. 36 at 11). Both parties later provided
supplemental briefs on this issue as well. (ECF Nos. 31-35).
The parties, therefore, have already received extensive
opportunities to proffer arguments regarding the exhaustion
requirement and the equitable exceptions to it. Now
Defendants merely assert that Plaintiff, in failing to
exhaust her administrative remedies, did not rely on an
affirmative act of the Defendants and had knowledge of the
exhaustion requirement because she was represented by
counsel. (ECF No. 54). However, Defendants had opportunities
to present these arguments in their summary judgment motion,
at oral argument, and in their supplemental briefs.
ruling on the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment,
this Court addressed at length the exhaustion requirement and
the equitable exceptions to that requirement. (ECF No. 36 at
10-15). Defendants fail to raise any new legal issues that
the Court has not previously addressed or considered.
Defendants' arguments in their present motion merely
express disagreement with the Court's discussion of the
very same issues, particularly with regard to the Court's
application of ...