United States District Court, E.D. California
JAIME SCHMIDT, DEBRA KNOWLES, ELIZABETH SAMPSON, and RYAN HENRIOULLE, Plaintiffs,
SHASTA COUNTY MARSHAL'S OFFICE and JOEL DEAN, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MORRISON C. ENGLAND, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
action, Plaintiffs-three former and one current employee of
Defendant Shasta County Marshal's Office
(“SCMO”)-brought several claims against the SCMO
based on alleged sexual discrimination they suffered while
working there. On February 21, 2017, the Court granted
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 48,
based mainly on Plaintiffs' failure to demonstrate that
the harassment they received was because of sex. Before the
Court now is Plaintiffs' Motion for Reconsideration of
that order, ECF No. 51, in which Plaintiffs claim this Court
committed clear error. For the following reasons,
Plaintiffs' Motion is DENIED IN PART and GRANTED IN PART.
The Motion is denied except with regard to Plaintiff Jamie
Schmidt's retaliation claim.
Jaime Schmidt, Elizabeth Sampson, and Ryan Henrioulle are
former employees of the SCMO, while Plaintiff Debra Knowles
is a current employee. Schmidt, Sampson, and Knowles all
claim to have been harassed by their boss, Defendant Joel
Dean, once he was promoted to sergeant. All three brought
claims against Defendants based on a hostile work environment
theory, as well as claims of retaliation. Plaintiff
Henrioulle brought only a retaliation claim, alleging that he
had been terminated in retaliation for standing up for
Schmidt, Sampson, and Knowles.
August 25, 2016, Defendants moved for summary judgment, ECF
No. 25, arguing that the undisputed evidence showed that the
claims made against them were meritless. Plaintiffs sought
and received leave for an extension of time to file an
opposition to that motion, filing an opposition on October 6,
2016, and an amended opposition the next day. See
ECF Nos. 32, 34, 36, 39-40. The Court ultimately granted
Defendant's motion for summary judgment on all claims on
February 21, 2017. ECF No. 48. The Court found that
Plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that the harassment they
suffered was because of sex. Mem. & Order, at 10. The
Court noted that Plaintiffs “fail[ed] to . . . provide
a legal theory to support a finding that the harassment was
because Plaintiffs are women.” Id. at 14.
Instead, Plaintiffs' opposition consisted mainly of a
recitation of facts. Accordingly, the Court analyzed
Plaintiffs' claims according to two theories that fit
best with those facts, but found the evidence provided was
insufficient as a matter of law to establish that Plaintiffs
suffered harassment “because of sex.” See
id. at 11-15. The Court also granted summary judgment on
Plaintiffs' retaliation claims on the basis that they
failed to show Defendants violated Title VII. Id. at
15. /// /// ///
motion for reconsideration is properly brought pursuant to
either Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) or Rule 60(b).
Taylor v. Knapp, 871 F.2d 803, 805 (9th Cir. 1989).
A motion for reconsideration is treated as a Rule 59(e)
motion if filed within twenty-eight days of entry of
judgment, but as a Rule 60(b) motion if filed more than
twenty-eight days after judgment. See Am. Ironworks &
Erectors, Inc. v. N. Am. Constr. Corp., 248 F.3d 892,
898-99 (9th Cir. 2001). Plaintiffs here bring a timely Rule
should be loath to revisit its own decisions unless
extraordinary circumstances show that its prior decision was
clearly erroneous or would work a manifest injustice.
Christianson v. Colt Indus. Operating Corp., 486
U.S. 800, 817 (1988). This principle is embodied in the law
of the case doctrine, under which “a court is generally
precluded from reconsidering an issue that has already been
decided by the same court, or a higher court in the identical
case.” United States v. Alexander, 106 F.3d
874, 876 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Thomas v. Bible,
983 F.2d 152, 154 (9th Cir. 1993)). Nonetheless, in certain
limited circumstances, a court has discretion to reconsider
its prior decisions.
Rule 59(e) permits a district court to reconsider and amend a
previous order, “the rule offers an
‘extraordinary remedy, to be used sparingly in the
interests of finality and conservation of judicial
resources.'” Kona Enters., Inc. v. Estate of
Bishop, 229 F.3d 877, 890 (9th Cir. 2000) (quoting 12
James William Moore, et al., Moore's Federal
Practice § 59.30 (3d ed. 2000)). Indeed, a
district court should not grant a motion for reconsideration
“absent highly unusual circumstances, unless the
district court is presented with newly discovered evidence,
committed clear error, or if there is an intervening change
in the controlling law.” 389 Orange St. Partners v.
Arnold, 179 F.3d 656, 665 (9th Cir. 1999) (citing
Sch. Dist. No. 1J v. ACandS, Inc., 5 F.3d 1255, 1263
(9th Cir. 1993)). Mere dissatisfaction with the court's
order, or belief that the court is wrong in its decision, is
not grounds for relief under Rule 59(e). Twentieth
Century-Fox Film Corp. v. Dunnahoo, 637 F.2d 1338, 1341
(9th Cir. 1981).
Local Rule 230(j) requires a party filing a motion for
reconsideration to show the “new or different facts or
circumstances claimed to exist which did not exist or were
not shown upon such prior motion, or what other grounds exist
for the motion.” Finally, motions for relief from
judgment pursuant to Rule 59(e) are addressed to the sound
discretion of the district court. Turner v. Burlington N.
Santa Fe R.R., 338 F.3d 1058, 1063 (9th Cir. 2003).
order to succeed, a party making a motion for reconsideration
pursuant to Rule 59(e) must “set forth facts or law of
a strongly convincing nature to induce the court to reverse
its prior decision.” Pritchen v. McEwen, No.
1:10-cv-02008-JLT HC, 2011 WL 2115647, at *1 (E.D. Cal. May
27, 2011) (citing Kern-Tulare Water Dist. v. City of
Bakersfield, 634 F.Supp. 656, 665 (E.D. Cal. 1986),
aff'd in part and rev'd in part on other
grounds, 828 F.2d 514 (9th Cir. 1987)). A motion for
reconsideration should not be used to raise arguments or
present evidence for the first time when the arguments or
evidence could reasonably have been raised earlier in the
litigation. 389 Orange St. Partners, 179 F.3d at
“courts avoid considering Rule 59(e) motions where the
grounds for amendment are restricted to either repetitive
contentions of matters which were before the court on its
prior consideration or contentions which might have been
raised prior to the challenged judgment.” Costello
v. United States, 765 F.Supp. 1003, 1009 (C.D. Cal.
1991); see also Taylor, 871 F.2d at 805. This
position stems from the district courts' “concerns
for preserving dwindling resources and promoting judicial
efficiency.” Costello, 765 F.Supp. at 1009.
Rule 59(e) and motions for reconsideration are therefore not
intended to “give an unhappy litigant one additional
chance to sway the judge.” Frito-Lay of P.R., Inc.
v. Canas, 92 F.R.D. 384, 390 (D.P.R. 1981) (quoting
Durkin v. Taylor, 444 F.Supp. 226, 233 (N.D. Ohio
claim that the Court committed clear error in four ways: (1)
“failing to consider the special rules regarding
[s]ummary [j]udgment [m]otions of employment cases”;
(2) “considering only gender-specific conduct directed
towards Plaintiffs themselves”; (3) “h[olding]
that only that conduct which is sex[-] or gender-specific may
be considered in determining whether there was a hostile work
environment”; (4) and “holding that an
employee's opposition is not protected ...