United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
ROBERT M. BLOCK, Plaintiff,
MEHARRY MEDICAL COLLEGE, Defendant,
H. SHARP, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Plaintiff Robert Block's (“Dr.
Block”) Motion to Alter or Amend. (Docket No. 137). Dr.
Block requests this Court to reverse the Court's Order
granting summary judgment to Defendant Meharry Medical
College (“Meharry”). Meharry filed a Response in
Opposition, (Docket No. 143), and Dr. Block replied, (Docket
No. 145). For the following reasons, the Court will deny Dr.
Block's Motion to Alter or Amend.
prevail on a Rule 59(e) motion to alter or amend a judgment,
a party must show “‘(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.'” Betts v. Costco Wholesale
Corp., 558 F.3d 461, 474 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting
Henderson v. Walled Lake Cons. Sch., 469 F.3d 479,
496 (6th Cir. 2006)).
Rule 59(e) vehicle does not exist to provide the movant with
a second opportunity to make its previous argument, that is,
a Rule 59(e) motion “is not an opportunity to re-argue
a case.” Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians
v. Engler, 146 F.3d 367, 374 (6th Cir. 1998). Moreover,
the movant should not use a Rule 59(e) motion to raise or
make arguments “which could, and should, have been made
before judgment issued.” Id.; see also
FDIC v. World University, Inc., 978 F.2d 10, 16 (1st
Cir. 1992) (“Rule 59(e) motions are aimed at
reconsideration, not initial consideration.”)
(emphasis in original) (internal quotations omitted).
light of the “narrow purposes” of the motion, the
judicial system's interest in the finality of judgments,
and the conservation of judicial resources, Rule 59(e)
motions “typically are denied.” Miller v.
Bell, 655 F.Supp.2d 838, 844 (E.D. Tenn. 2009) (internal
quotations omitted). In his Rule 59(e) Motion, Dr. Block does
not discuss, or tie his argument to, the Rule 59(e) standard
of review, but it appears that Dr. Block believes the Court
needs to prevent manifest injustice or that the Court made a
clear error of law or fact.
Regarding the meaning of the term “manifest injustice,
” it has been noted that
There is no judicial consensus . . . but several courts have
applied the Black's Law Dictionary definition, which
states that “manifest injustice” is an error in
the trial court that is direct, obvious, and observable . . .
A party may only be granted reconsideration based on manifest
injustice if the error is apparent to the point of being
indisputable. In order for a court to reconsider a decision
due to “manifest injustice, ” the record
presented must be so patently unfair and tainted that the
error is manifestly clear to all who view it.
In re Roemmele, 466 B.R. 706, 712 (Bankr. E.D. Pa.
Mar. 14, 2012) (internal quotations omitted). “A
similar application of the dictionary definition to a clear
error of law or fact requires an error that is ‘plain
and indisputable, and that amounts to a complete disregard of
the controlling law or the credible evidence in the
record.'” In re Titus, 479 B.R. 362, 368
(Bankr. W.D. Pa. 2012) (quoting In re Oak Park Calabasas
Condominium Ass'n, 302 B.R. 682, 683 (Bankr. C.D.
Dr. Block's Time Barred Claims
Court found Dr. Block's claims in regards to his demotion
from Professor to Associate Professor time barred, because
the demotion occurred more than 300 days preceding Dr.
Block's EEOC charge complaining of this demotion. More
specifically, the EEOC charge was filed on November 20, 2013,
and therefore any events occurring before January 24, 2013
(300 days prior) are time barred. The Court found that Dr.
Block was demoted in February 2012, based on Dr. Block's
own admission in his Complaint. (Docket No. 1 at 4).
Moreover, Dr. Block admitted he was notified of his demotion
in February 2012 in Plaintiff's Response to
Defendant's Statement of Undisputed Material Facts.
(Docket No. 96 at 5).
Block argues that the Court was incorrect in finding this
claim time barred for two main reasons. First, he claims
certain aspects of the factual background create a genuine
issue of material fact. For example, Dr. Block argues that
his 2012-2013 employment contract appointing him a full
Professor shows that his demotion didn't occur until the
contract expired in June 2013. Dr. Block also argues that he
did not experience a change in salary when he was demoted in
February 2012, and therefore Dr. Block didn't know that
he had been demoted until much later (when his 2012-2013
contract expired). (Docket No. 141 at 2-3). He argues that
because June 2013 is within the 300 days immediately
preceding his EEOC charge, the demotion claim is therefore
not time barred.
factual arguments, however, do not change the fact that Dr.
Block admitted that he knew about his demotion in February
2012 when he received a letter from Dean Janet Southerland
“advising him that he had been appointed as an
Associate Professor instead of Professor.” (Docket No.
1 at 4). Nor do they change the fact that Dr. Block used the
title “Associate Professor” in his signature
block in three separate documents in January 2012. (Docket
No. 100-3 at 2-4). Finally, they do not change the fact that
Dr. Block applied for a promotion from Associate Professor to
Professor in the fall of 2012 and that Dr. Block admits he
was notified that his application for promotion had been