United States District Court, N.D. Indiana
OPINION AND ORDER
JOSEPH S. VAN BOKKELEN, District Judge.
On October 3, 2014, a jury found that Plaintiff requested her union to file race-based grievances on her behalf, the union refused to do so, but that their refusal was not on the basis of racial animus. (DE 278, Jury Verdict.) At the conclusion of the presentation of evidence, the Court granted Defendant's motion for judgment as a matter of law on the issue of whether the union had a pattern or practice of discriminating against its minority members. Since the close of trial, Plaintiff has filed five separate motions.
First, on October 16, 2014, Plaintiff pro se filed a motion to reconsider or correct errors or mistakes (DE 281) and a motion to exceed page limits (DE 283). In the motion to reconsider Plaintiff asserts that there was a fraud on court, the court erred by finding that the Local Union, rather than the International Union, was the only defendant remaining, and requested a reinstatement of the claims against Bayer Health Care, LLC ("Bayer"), that were dismissed on the basis of a settlement agreement between the parties.
Next Plaintiff filed a "Rule 52, 60 and Rule 59..." motion requesting two things from the Court. (DE 286.) First, despite their settlement agreement, Plaintiff again requested that all claims against Bayer be reinstated. Additionally, Plaintiff requested a new trial on the basis of her belief that Court erred in granting Defendant's motion for judgment as a matter of law on Plaintiff's discriminatory pattern or practice claim.
Following the jury verdict Defendant filed a bill of costs (DE 285). Plaintiff responded to this by filing an objection to this bill of costs (DE 290) and a "motion to contest the bill of cost and provide sanctions" (DE 291).
Finally, Plaintiff filed a motion requesting an entry of final judgment by the clerk of court for claims dismissed by pretrial motions and her settlement agreement. For the reasons outlined below, Plaintiff's motions are denied and she is directed, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(1), to pay costs to Defendant as outlined in the Bill of Costs (DE 285).
Plaintiff, Ms. Yolanda Young-Smith, alleged numerous Title VII and § 1981 claims against her former employer, her human resources supervisor, and her union. Plaintiff's six claims were the result of her termination, alleged misconduct by the union in handling her discharge, and the Union's alleged failure to file race discrimination grievances on her behalf. Following Judge Lee's decision on Defendant's summary judgment motion, Plaintiff requested Judge Lee to recuse himself. Judge Lee recused himself even though he found Plaintiff's claims of conspiracy to be "wholly lacking in merit and groundless" and the case was transferred to this Court. (DE 159, Op. & Order at 3.)
Prior to Judge Lee's recusal, the majority of Plaintiff's claims were dismissed. First, all claims against Plaintiff's human resources supervisor and her claim against the union for breach of the duty of fair representation were dismissed with prejudice, while her claim of retaliation by the Local Union was dismissed without prejudice. (DE 36, Order at 16.) Next, Plaintiff reached a settlement agreement with Bayer leading to the dismissal of all remaining claims against her former employer. (DE 60.) Finally, on the basis of Defendant's summary judgment motion, only two claims remained for trial.
The primary issue left for trial was "whether [Plaintiff] did, in fact, request the Union to file race based grievances against her employer [before] the incident leading to her termination and the Union repeatedly declined to do so" based upon racial animus. (DE 132, Order at 4.) The tertiary issue remaining permitted Plaintiff to show that the Defendant had a pattern or practice of refusing to file race-based grievances against her employer. See Goodman v. Lukens Steel Co., 482 U.S. 656 (1987) (finding a Union violates § 1981 when it refuses to file race-based grievances due to a discriminatory motive). The Court allowed the Plaintiff to use her grievances as evidence of a pattern or practice, even though at summary judgment the Court found that neither the International Union nor the Local Union discriminated against her in the handling of her discharge grievance.
B. Legal Standard
1. Rule 59
"After a nonjury trial, the court may, on motion for a new trial, open the judgment if one has been entered, take additional testimony, amend findings of fact and conclusions of law or make new ones, and direct the entry of a new judgment." Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(a)(2). The purpose of Rule 59 is to "increase efficiency, allowing district courts a chance to correct their own errors rather than saddling the parties and appellate courts with otherwise unnecessary appeals." Andrews v. E.I. Du Pont De Nemours & Co., 447 F.3d 510, 515-516 (7th ...