United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER [RESOLVING ECF NOS.
61 & 62]
Y. Pearson United States District Judge.
before the Court are Plaintiff's Motion for
Reconsideration of Grant of Summary Judgment and Denial of
Motion for Leave to File Supplemental Complaint (ECF No.
62) and Defendants' Motion for Taxation of Costs
(ECF No. 61). For the below reasons, the Court
grants in part Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration and
grants Defendants' motion for taxation of costs.
59(e) allows district courts to alter, amend, or vacate
a prior judgment. See Huff v. Metro. Life Insur.
Co., 675 F.2d 119, 122 (6th Cir. 1982). The purpose of
Rule 59(e) is “to allow the district court to
correct its own errors, sparing the parties and appellate
courts the burden of unnecessary appellate
proceedings.” Howard v. United States, 533
F.3d 472, 475 (6th Cir. 2008) (quoting York v. Tate,
858 F.2d 322, 326 (6th Cir. 1988)). It permits district
courts to amend judgments where there is: “(1) a clear
error of law; (2) newly discovered evidence; (3) an
intervening change in controlling law; or (4) a need to
prevent manifest injustice.” Am. Civil Liberties
Union v. McCreary Cty., 607 F.3d 439, 450 (6th Cir.
2010) (quoting Intera Corp. v. Henderson, 428 F.3d
605, 620 (6th Cir. 2005)).
Sixth Circuit has explained that “Rule 59(e) motions
cannot be used to present new arguments that could have been
raised prior to judgment.” Howard, 533 F.3d at
475. See also Roger Miller Music, Inc. v. Sony/ATV
Publ'g, LLC, 477 F.3d 383, 395 (6th Cir. 2007);
Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians v.
Engler, 146 F.3d 367, 374 (6th Cir. 1988). Indeed,
“Rule 59(e) allows for reconsideration; it does not
permit parties to effectively ‘re-argue a
case.'” Howard, 533 F.3d at 475 (quoting
Sault Ste. Marie Tribe, 146 F.3d at 374). The grant
or denial of a Rule 59(e) motion is within the
informed discretion of the district court. Huff, 675
F.2d at 122; 11 Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R.
Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2810.1 (3d
moves the Court for reconsideration of three issues.
Plaintiff argues the Court, on summary judgment, erred in
finding no causal connection between his termination and any
protected activity due to lack of temporal proximity.
Plaintiff also contends the Court erred in finding Plaintiff
abandoned his claim for failure to hire into the position of
Lecturer, School of Technology - First Year Engineering
Technology. Finally, Plaintiff avers the Court erred in
denying Plaintiff's Motion to Supplement Complaint
(ECF No. 52). Defendants opposed Plaintiff's
motion (ECF No. 63), and Plaintiff replied (ECF
challenges the Court's granting of summary judgment as to
his Title VII retaliation claim for non-renewal of his
employment contract due to the lack of temporal proximity
between YSU's first opportunity to retaliate against
Plaintiff in 2012 and YSU's decision not to renew
Plaintiff's employment contract in 2015. He first
contests, as he did on summary judgment, that YSU's first
opportunity to retaliate against Plaintiff was in 2015, not
2012. ECF No. 62 at PageID #: 4848. Plaintiff
insists that, under the circumstances, the relevant date is
the first date on which YSU Provost Martin Abraham could
retaliate against him. Id. Because YSU did not
appoint Abraham to the position of Provost until October
2014, Plaintiff claims that Abraham could not have retaliated
against him until Plaintiff's contract was up for renewal
in 2015. Id.
Plaintiff argued in opposition to Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment that YSU's first opportunity to
retaliate against him was in 2015, he did not base his
argument on YSU's change in leadership. Rather, Plaintiff
argued that YSU did not have an opportunity to retaliate
against Plaintiff until YSU's obligation to provide
Plaintiff health care benefits expired. ECF No. 50 at PageID
#: 4581. The Court rejected the argument. ECF No. 59 at
PageID #: 4819-20. Plaintiff's attempt to bring forth an
alternative argument he failed to develop in opposition to
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is improper on a
Rule 59(e) motion.
also argues that the three-year gap between YSU's first
opportunity to retaliate against Plaintiff and YSU's
decision not to renew Plaintiff's employment contract
should not have been dispositive. “[M]ultiyear gaps
between the protected conduct and the first retaliatory act
have been insufficient to establish the requisite causal
connection.” Fuhr v. Hazel Park Sch. Dist.,
710 F.3d 668, 676 (6th Cir. 2013). “A lack of temporal
proximity alone can be fatal to an attempt to establish a
causal connection[.]” Id.
courts within the circuit have found, in extraordinary
instances, that a multi-year gap does not preclude a finding
of causal connection. See, e.g., Mink v.
Passport Health Commc'ns, Inc., No. 3:12-CV-00446,
2013 WL 4008705, at *13 (M.D. Tenn. Aug. 5, 2013) (five-year
gap not dispositive because of evidence that the
decisionmaker, upon resuming her supervision of the
plaintiff, called the plaintiff's co-worker
“searching for reasons to justify firing” her);
Brabson v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., No.
3:14-CV-336, 2016 WL 5947469, at *10 (E.D. Tenn. Oct. 13,
2016) (causation despite nearly two years between protected
activity and termination when the plaintiff produced evidence
that her supervisor attempted to drive her to voluntarily
resign during that timeframe).
the evidence Plaintiff produced in opposition to summary
judgment suggests that this is an exceptional case in which
the three-year gap is not dispositive of Plaintiff's
retaliation claim. Plaintiff claims Abraham was the
“sole decision-maker” in non-renewing his
employment contract in 2015. ECF No. 62 at PageID #: 4841.
Abraham's awareness of “displeasure amongst some of
the faculty” upon Plaintiff's return to work and
his statement to then-Interim Dean Gregg Sturrus that
Plaintiff's “years of reinstatement . . . were
finished” (Id. at PageID #: 4849) are not
evidence of Abraham's retaliatory animus. Without
providing evidence of retaliatory animus, Plaintiff cannot
establish a causal link bridging a three-year gap.
Accordingly, the Court finds that summary judgment on this
ground was proper.
Plaintiff's Retaliation Claim for Lecturer, School of
Technology - First Year Engineering Technology
correctly alleges that he opposed summary judgment with
respect to his Title VII retaliation claim for failure to
hire into the position of Lecturer, School of Technology -
First Year ...