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Brumley v. United Parcel Service, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

April 23, 2018

MELISSA BRUMLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED PARCEL SERVICE, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          ALETA A. TRAUGER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the court is the plaintiff's timely Rule 59(e) Motion to Alter or Amend Final Order of Dismissal (Doc. No. 28), seeking reconsideration of the Order of dismissal entered on January 22, 2018. The motion has been fully briefed. (See Doc. Nos. 29 (plaintiff's Memorandum in Support), 32 (defendant's Response in Opposition), 36 (plaintiff's Reply), 40 (defendant's Sur-reply).) For the reasons set forth herein, the plaintiff's motion will be denied.

         I. Procedural and Factual Background

         Plaintiff Melissa Brumley is employed by defendant UPS as a sorter at a warehouse located in Franklin, Tennessee. She filed this lawsuit to pursue claims of discrimination and failure to accommodate under the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. (“ADA”), as amended by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (“ADAAA”) (collectively referred to herein as the ADA unless necessary to distinguish between them). On January 22, 2018, the court granted the defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, denied the plaintiff's Counter Motion for Summary Judgment, and entered a final Order of dismissal. (Doc. No. 26.)

         In granting the defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, the court determined, based on the undisputed facts, that: (1) the plaintiff failed to present direct evidence of disability discrimination; (2) any delay caused by the employer in conducting the interactive process required by the ADA for finding a reasonable accommodation was not, as a matter of law, unreasonable; (3) the plaintiff abandoned the interactive process and withdrew her request for an accommodation, thus mooting her claim based on failure to accommodate; and (4) the plaintiff failed to allege any other form of discrimination based on a disability under the ADA, other than the alleged failure to accommodate. (Doc. No. 25, at 10-11.) The court incorporates herein the factual background contained in the Memorandum accompanying the Order of dismissal. (Doc. No. 25.)

         After entry of Judgment, the plaintiff filed her timely Rule 59(e) motion, asserting that there has been an intervening or “recent” change in the law, that she is in possession of newly discovered evidence that requires setting aside the Order of dismissal, and that the Order of dismissal must be set aside to prevent manifest injustice. In the alternative, she seeks to reopen the case to conduct further discovery, arguing that she was “actively seeking discovery at the time of the dismissal.” (Doc. No. 28, at 2.) Most of the parties' briefing, in fact, concerns the tangential matter of the plaintiff's desire to reopen the case to take additional discovery and her efforts to take such additional discovery prior to dismissal of this case. Besides disputing the plaintiff's claim that she is entitled to additional discovery, the defendant contends that the plaintiff has not satisfied any of the requirements for relief under Rule 59(e).

         II. Standard of Review

         Under Rule 59, a court may alter or amend a judgment based on: (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. Leisure Caviar, LLC v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Serv., 616 F.3d 612, 615 (6th Cir. 2010); Roger Miller Music, Inc. v. Sony/ATV Publ'g, LLC, 477 F.3d 383, 395 (6th Cir. 2007); Intera Corp. v. Henderson, 428 F.3d 605, 620 (6th Cir. 2005).

         However, a motion under Rule 59(e) is not a vehicle for presenting new legal arguments that could have been raised before a judgment was issued. Roger Miller Music, 477 F.3d at 395; see also Leisure Caviar, 616 F.3d at 616 (noting that a movant “cannot use a Rule 59 motion to raise arguments which could, and should, have been made before judgment issued”). Critically, “[a] motion under Rule 59(e) is not an opportunity to reargue a case.” Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians v. Engler, 146 F.3d 367, 374 (6th Cir. 1998). Likewise, a Rule 59(e) motion “should not be utilized to submit evidence which could have been previously submitted in the exercise of reasonable diligence.” Kenneth Henes Special Projects Procurement v. Cont'l Biomass Indus., 86 F.Supp.2d 721, 726 (E.D. Mich. 2000) (citation omitted).

         “The grant or denial of a Rule 59(e) motion is within the informed discretion of the district court, reversible only for abuse.” Scotts Co. v. Cent. Garden & Pet Co., 403 F.3d 781, 788 (6th Cir. 2005) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted), abrogated on other grounds, Allied Indus. Scrap, Inc. v. OmniSource Corp., 776 F.3d 452 (6th Cir. 2015).

         III. Discussion

         A. Intervening Change in the Law

         The plaintiff insists that there has been an “intervening change in controlling law, that is so recent that it created a clear error of law in the dismissal.” (Doc. No. 29, at 3.) The case to which she cites in support of this argument, however, was decided on September 1, 2017. Watford v. Jefferson Cnty. Pub. Sch., 870 F.3d 448 (6th Cir. Sept. 1, 2017), reh'g denied (Oct. 20, 2017), reh'g en banc denied (Nov. 9, 2017). The plaintiff's Response to the defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and her own Counter Motion (Doc. No. 21) were filed on December 5, 2017, three months after the initial decision was rendered and almost a month after the denial of rehearing en banc.

         Consequently, even if the court assumes that Watford markedly changed the legal landscape, it does not constitute an intervening change in controlling law for purposes of Rule 59(e). It was issued before briefing in this case was completed and well before the Order of dismissal was entered. The plaintiff, therefore, has not shown that ...


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