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Nardella v. Philadelphia Gas Works

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

October 22, 2014

DEBORAH ANN NARDELLA
v.
PHILADELPHIA GAS WORKS, ET AL.

MEMORANDUM

R. BARCLAY SURRICK, District Judge.

Presently before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration (ECF No. 51). For the following reasons, Plaintiff's Motion will be denied.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Deborah Ann Nardella brought this employment-discrimination action pro se against her former employer, Philadelphia Gas Works. The Amended Complaint alleges claims for harassment, retaliation, hostile work environment, and discrimination based on race and gender in violation of Title VII, as well as violations of the Equal Pay Act of 1963. (Am. Compl. ΒΆΒΆ 1-219, ECF No. 12.) On April 3, 2012, we granted Defendant's motion to dismiss with regard to Plaintiff's harassment and Equal Pay Act counts and denied the motion with regard to her Title VII claims. (ECF No. 31.)

Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment on the remainder of Plaintiff's claims at the close of discovery. (ECF No. 42.) We granted Defendant's motion on January 30, 2014, and entered judgment against Plaintiff. ( See Mem. S.J., ECF No. 49, Order, ECF No. 50.) Plaintiff filed the instant Motion for Reconsideration on February 12, 2014, and Defendant filed its Response on February 28. (Pl.'s Mot. Reconsideration, ECF No. 51; Def.'s Resp., ECF No. 52.)

Because we engaged in a thorough recitation of the factual background in our Memorandum granting Defendant's motion for summary judgment, see Nardella v. Philadelphia Gas Works, 997 F.Supp.2d 286, 289-93 (E.D. Pa. 2014), and because we write primarily for the parties, we refer to the recitation of facts in that Memorandum. ( See Mem. S.J. 2-8.)

II. LEGAL STANDARD

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not explicitly recognize a motion for reconsideration. Waller v. Foulke Mgmt. Corp., No. 10-6342, 2012 WL 924865, at *1 n.1 (D.N.J. Mar. 19, 2012). Courts therefore generally interpret such motions as a motion to alter or amend a judgment under Rule 59(e), or a motion for relief from a judgment under Rule 60(b). Plaintiff's motion is timely under either standard. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e), 60(c)(1), Local Rule 7.1(g). Plaintiff cites the standard for a motion to alter or amend a judgment under Rule 59(e) ( see Pl.'s Mot. Reconsideration 13-14), so we will consider her Motion as such.

"A proper [Fed. R. Civ. P.] 59(e) motion [for reconsideration]... must rely on one of three grounds: (1) an intervening change in controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence; or (3) the need to correct clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice." OR v. Hutner, 576 F.App'x 106, 2014 WL 3937715, at *2 (3d Cir. Aug. 13, 2014) (quoting Lazaridis v. Wehmer, 591 F.3d 666, 669 (3d Cir. 2010) (per curiam)) (alterations in original). As the movant, Plaintiff bears the burden of establishing one of these three grounds. In re Loewen Grp. Inc. Sec. Litig., No. 98-6740, 2006 WL 27286, at *1 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 5, 2006). "[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 Co. v. Borough of Glendon, 836 F.Supp. 1109, 1122 (E.D. Pa. 1993) (alteration in original) (internal quotation marks omitted). "Mere dissatisfaction with the court's ruling is not a proper basis for reconsideration." E.E.O.C. v. Dan Lepore & Sons Co., No. 03-5462, 2004 WL 569526, at *2 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 15, 2004).

III. DISCUSSION

The majority of Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration consists of expressions of disagreement and dissatisfaction with our grant of Defendant's motion for summary judgment. This is not a proper ground for a Rule 59(e) motion. See id. Plaintiff states that she "does not agree with the Court that Defendant established a legitimate, non pretextual [sic] justification for her termination and respectfully requests that the Court once again carefully review the Response [to Defendant's summary-judgment motion], Exhibits, and testimony." (Pl.'s Mot. Reconsideration 7.) She also states that "[a]s far as the Court's comment that the denial of raises could be the result of PGW's dissatisfaction with Plaintiff's attitude and performance, Plaintiff Pro Se will state with certainty that the denial of raises for this plaintiff was more in line with pretext for discrimination." ( Id. (emphasis in original).) Again, this is nothing more than a disagreement with our ruling on summary judgment. It has no basis in any of the grounds for reconsideration under Rule 59(e). We will address Plaintiff's arguments to the extent they allege a change in the law, newly discovered evidence, or a clear error of law or manifest injustice that requires correction. Hutner, 2014 WL 3937715, at *2. We will not revisit determinations with which Plaintiff merely disagrees.

A. Changes in the Law

Plaintiff's motion obliquely references changes in the law, stating that she "noticed that many similar cases were televised on national T.V. along with changes in the law." (Pl.'s Mot. Reconsideration 2.) She adds that "[i]t appears that when plaintiff prepares or files something, the laws change quickly, to the point that she feels that someone is always trying to stay one step ahead of her or trying to prevent her from winning something." ( Id. ) Though she mentions changes in the law regarding reverse discrimination and in the causation standard for retaliation claims, Plaintiff does not cite any cases that illustrate these changes. ( See id. at 14.)[1]

Regarding Plaintiff's argument that the causation standard in retaliation claims has changed, she may be referring to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar, ___ U.S. ___, 133 S.Ct. 2517 (2013). Nassar does not save her retaliation claim for two reasons. First, Nassar was decided before we granted Defendant's motion for summary judgment, so it is not "an intervening change in controlling law." Hutner, 2014 WL 3937715, at *2. Second, even if Nassar had become the law after we granted Defendant's summary-judgment motion, it would not help Plaintiff. Nassar introduces a stricter but-for causation standard in retaliation claims, replacing the more permissive ...


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