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Samuel Amfosakyi v. Frito Lay

December 7, 2011

SAMUEL AMFOSAKYI,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
FRITO LAY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: (Magistrate Judge Carlson)

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

(Chief Judge Kane)

I. Statement of Facts and of the Case

This is an employment discrimination action brought by Samuel Amfosakyi against Frito Lay. (Doc. 1) In his complaint, Amfosakyi, a black male and a United States citizen of Ghanaian heritage, alleges that the defendant discriminated against him on the basis of his race and national origin when Frito Lay discharged him in 2009, acts which Amfosakyi alleges were taken in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §2000e-5, and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 Pa.C.S. § 951. (Id.)

According to Amfosakyi's complaint, from February 2005 through July 2009, Amfosakyi was employed as a packer and cooker operator by Frito Lay, when Amfosakyi was discharged for alleged dishonesty. (Id.) Amfosakyi asserts that one fellow worker who was a white male committed similar workplace infractions but was not discharged by Frito Lay. On the basis of this assertion of disparate treatment Amfosakyi brings this employment discrimination action.

The parties are currently engaged in pretrial discovery. As part of this discovery process Amfosakyi filed a motion for sanctions, (Doc. 23), and brief, (Doc. 24), which alleged that Frito Lay has wrongfully withheld discovery from him. The discovery Amfosakyi sought related to a former co-worker, George Rye. Amfosakyi alleged that Rye is caucasian and suggested that in 2006 Rye falsely claimed that Amfosakyi ran over Rye's foot while operating a piece of equipment at the Frito Lay plant. Amfosakyi asserted that Rye's misconduct in making this allegedly false claim in 2006 did not lead to his termination, and cited this episode as proof of his claim disparate treatment of workers by the defendant based upon race and national origin. In order to support this claim, Amfosakyi sought Rye's 2006 job attendance records from Frito Lay, on the grounds that he believed that they would show that Rye was not at work on the day in 2006 when he alleged that Amfosakyi injured his foot, thus bolstering Amfosakyi's assertion that Rye made false claims regarding this episode.

Frito Lay responded to this request in a threefold fashion: (1) informing Amfosakyi and the Court that these 2006 attendance records do not exist for Rye; (2) explaining that its 2009 discipline of Amfosakyi was completely unrelated to this 2006 incident in which Amfosakyi was alleged to have run over Rye's foot, and stipulating that the 2006 episode led to no discipline against any Frito Lay worker and played no part in the company's decision to discipline Amfosakyi three years later; and (3) noting that Rye was, in fact, later discharged by the company for an unrelated violation of the company's rules of conduct. Dissatisfied with this threefold response, Amfosakyi filed a motion for sanctions, (Doc. 23), which we denied in a memorandum opinion filed on November 17, 2011. (Doc. 37)

On December 5, 2011, the Court held a previously scheduled hearing on another matter in this case, the defendant's motion for sanctions arising out of Amfosakyi's alleged creation of a falsely back-dated letter which he produced in discovery. At this hearing, Amfosakyi tendered to the Court a pro se motion which we have construed as a motion to reconsider our prior denial of his motion for sanctions. (Doc. 41) At the time of the hearing, we accepted this document, advised Mr. Amfosakyi that we would treat it as a motion to reconsider, and advised him of the exacting legal standards that apply to motions to reconsider.

Having carefully reviewed Amfosakyi's pleading, (Doc. 41), we find that reconsideration of our prior discovery ruling on his motion for sanctions is not warranted. Therefore, for the reasons set forth below, we will deny this motion to reconsider.

II. Discussion

A. Motions to Reconsider--The Legal Standard

The legal standards that govern motions to reconsider are both clear, and clearly compelling. "The purpose of a motion for reconsideration is to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence." Harsco Corp. v. Zlotnicki, 779 F.2d 906, 909 (3d Cir. 1985). Typically such a motion should only be granted in three, narrowly defined circumstances, where there is either : "(1) [an] intervening change in controlling law, (2) availability of new evidence not previously available, or (3) need to correct a clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice". Dodge v. Susquehanna Univ., 796 F.Supp. 829, 830 (M.D. Pa. 1992 ). As the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has aptly observed:

"The purpose of a motion for reconsideration ... is to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence." Max's Seafood Cafe, 176 F.3d at 677 (quoting Harsco Corp. v. Zlotnicki, 779 F.2d 906, 909 (3d Cir.1985)). "Accordingly, a judgment may be altered or amended if the party seeking reconsideration shows at least one of the following grounds: (1) an intervening change in the controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence that was not available when the court granted the motion for ...


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