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Clark v. Kraft Foods, Inc.

United States District Court, Third Circuit

May 21, 2013

DONALD C. CLARK, Plaintiff,
KRAFT FOODS, INC., Defendant.




Plaintiff Donald Clark has sued his former employer, defendant Kraft Foods, Inc., for employment discrimination on the basis of race, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1981. The Court previously denied defendant’s motion for summary judgment. Defendant has now moved for reconsideration of that order on the grounds of newly discovered evidence and clear errors of law.


The background of this case is set forth in detail in the Court’s previous opinion. See Clark v. Kraft Foods, Inc., 2011 WL 5116637 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 28, 2011). Accordingly, the Court recites in this Memorandum only those facts necessary to explain the Court’s ruling on the pending motion.

By the Memorandum dated October 28, 2011, the Court denied defendant’s motion for summary judgment. Id. The Court concluded that plaintiff had satisfied the elements necessary to support a prima facie case of discrimination, as plaintiff was qualified for his position, and had shown circumstances that gave rise to an inference of discrimination in connection with his termination. Id. at 5. Regarding his qualifications, the Court noted, inter alia, that plaintiff had received “high marks for meeting sales objectives” and “received sales awards, ” thus establishing his qualifications for the job. Id. On the issue of whether there were circumstances that gave rise to an inference of discrimination, the Court noted that (1) plaintiff had identified a Caucasian Sales Representative who was not terminated for a similar offense, (2) plaintiff presented both anecdotal evidence of his supervisors’ racial animus, and (3) a pattern of discriminatory treatment toward African American Sales Representatives in defendant’s Horsham office. The Court thus determined that plaintiff had presented sufficient evidence of circumstances raising an inference of discrimination. Id.

The Court next held that defendant had satisfied its burden of introducing evidence of a nondiscriminatory reason for plaintiff’s termination. Id. at 6. However, the Court determined that genuine disputes of material fact remained as to whether plaintiff could show that the legitimate reason provided by defendant was pretextual. Plaintiff argued (1) that the incident that caused his termination was not his fault, (2) that the complaint that led to his Final Warning was never made, [1] and (3) noted the different treatment of a Caucasian Sales Representative for a similar offense. Id. In addition, while plaintiff admitted that there were some complaints about his job performance, the Court concluded that a reasonable jury could credit plaintiff’s argument that those deficiencies arose from racially discriminatory interference with merchandiser scheduling. Id. That argument was also supported by the general evidence of racial discrimination in the Kraft office. Id. The Court accordingly denied defendant’s motion for summary judgment on the ground that there were genuine disputes of material fact.

On December 20, 2012, over a year later, defendant moved for leave to file a motion for reconsideration of the Court’s order. Defendant argued that after the Court’s order of October 28, 2011, it had conducted additional discovery and taken depositions of certain late disclosed witnesses: Ron Jones, Andrew Reid, Richard Gardenhire and Anthony Harris. In addition, defendant noted that the parties planned to take the deposition of another witness, Brian Murphy. “[B]ased upon the consideration of this new evidence in the case, ” defendant sought reconsideration of the Court’s October 28, 2011 Order. (Mot. for Leave, at 3.) The Court granted defendant leave to file the instant Motion.

Defendant requests reconsideration due to both new evidence and clear errors of law. Attached to the Motion are the deposition transcripts and declarations of certain of the above-noted witnesses, and declarations from Kraft employees Jennifer Fales, Colleen Thiel, and Daniel McTaggart. Defendant avers that this new evidence rebuts plaintiff’s claims regarding the circumstances of his termination, and whether the reason advanced for his firing was pretextual. Defendant also argues that the Court committed clear errors of law in denying its motion for summary judgment. For the reasons that follow, the Court denies defendant’s Motion for Reconsideration.


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 v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999). A prior decision may be altered or amended only if the party seeking reconsideration establishes at least one of the following grounds: (1) an intervening change in controlling law, (2) the availability of new evidence that was not available when the court issued its order, or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice. Id.

A motion for reconsideration is not properly grounded on a request that a court rethink a decision already made. Glendon Energy Co. v. Borough of Glendon, 836 F.Supp. 1109, 1122 (E.D. Pa. 1993); see also United States v. Jasin, 292 F.Supp.2d 670, 676 (E.D. Pa. 2003) (“[P]arties are not free to relitigate issues which the court has already decided.”). A motion for reconsideration “addresses only factual and legal matters that the Court may have overlooked. It is improper on a motion for reconsideration to ask the Court to rethink what it had already thought through – rightly or wrongly.” Glendon Energy, 836 F.Supp. at 1122 (internal quotations omitted).


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