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Tucker v. Express Scripts Holding

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

December 6, 2016

MARSHALL B. TUCKER, Plaintiff,
v.
EXPRESS SCRIPTS HOLDING, Defendant.

          ENTRY ON MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION

          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on a Motion for Reconsideration filed by Defendant Express Scripts Holding Company (“Express Scripts”) (Filing No. 64). Following a motion for summary judgment filed by Express Scripts, the Court entered summary judgment in favor of Express Scripts on Plaintiff Marshall Tucker's (“Tucker”) claims for retaliation and harassment but denied summary judgment on Tucker's claim for race discrimination under Title VII and Section 1981 (Filing No. 63). Express Scripts asks the Court to reconsider the summary judgment Order regarding the race discrimination claim. For the following reasons, the Court DENIES the Motion for Reconsideration.

         I. LEGAL STANDARD

         This Motion is properly classified as a motion to reconsider under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b), as no final judgment has been entered in this case. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b) (“any order or other decision, however designated, that adjudicates fewer than all the claims or the rights and liabilities of fewer than all the parties does not end the action as to any of the claims or parties and may be revised at any time before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all the claims and all the parties' rights and liabilities”).

         The Court applies a similar standard as applied to motions to alter or amend a judgment under Rule 59(e). Motions to reconsider filed pursuant to Rule 54(b) or Rule 59(e) are for the purpose of correcting manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence not available at the time of briefing, and a motion to reconsider an order under Rule 54(b) is judged by largely the same standard as a motion to alter or amend a judgment under Rule 59(e). Katz-Crank v. Haskett, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95144, at *6 (S.D. Ind. July 14, 2014); Woods v. Resnick, 725 F.Supp.2d 809, 827-28 (W.D. Wis. 2010).

         Motions to reconsider “serve a limited function: to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence.” State Farm Fire & Cas. Co. v. Nokes, 263 F.R.D. 518, 526 (N.D. Ind. 2009). The motion is to be used “where the Court has patently misunderstood a party, or has made a decision outside the adversarial issues presented to the Court by the parties, or has made an error not of reasoning but of apprehension.” Bank of Waunakee v. Rochester Cheese Sales, Inc., 906 F.2d 1185, 1191 (7th Cir. 1990) (citation omitted).

         The purpose of a motion for reconsideration is to ask the court to reconsider matters “properly encompassed in a decision on the merits.” Osterneck v. Ernst & Whinney, 489 U.S. 169, 174 (1989). The motion “will be successful only where the movant clearly establishes: (1) that the court committed a manifest error of law or fact, or (2) that newly discovered evidence precluded entry of judgment.” Cincinnati Life Ins. Co. v. Beyrer, 722 F.3d 939, 954 (7th Cir. 2013) (citation and quotation marks omitted). A manifest error “is not demonstrated by the disappointment of the losing party. It is the wholesale disregard, misapplication, or failure to recognize controlling precedent.” Oto v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 224 F.3d 601, 606 (7th Cir. 2000) (citation and quotation marks omitted).

         “Reconsideration is not an appropriate forum for rehashing previously rejected arguments or arguing matters that could have been heard during the pendency of the previous motion.” Ahmed v. Ashcroft, 388 F.3d 247, 249 (7th Cir. 2004) (citation and quotation marks omitted). Relief pursuant to a motion to reconsider is an “extraordinary remed[y] reserved for the exceptional case.” Foster v. DeLuca, 545 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2008).

         II. DISCUSSION

         Express Scripts asks the Court to reconsider its summary judgment decision regarding Tucker's race discrimination claim brought pursuant to Title VII and Section 1981. Express Scripts explains that,

While Defendant does not concede that Plaintiff established any disputed material facts supporting a prima facie case of race discrimination, that finding is not material to this motion. Rather, Defendant seeks reconsideration of the Court's second and third steps in the analysis, namely Defendant's proffered legitimate reason for termination, and Plaintiff's burden of proving that reason pretextual.

(Filing No. 65 at 5.) Express Scripts further claims, “[i]n addition, the Court has overlooked Plaintiff's ultimate burden of persuasion as to discriminatory motive throughout the burden-shifting analysis.” Id. at 6.

         In arguing that the Court should reconsider its summary judgment ruling on the race discrimination claim, Express Scripts asserts that the Court adopted Tucker's mischaracterization of the evidence, thereby misunderstanding Express Scripts' proffered reason for Tucker's termination and misconstruing the pretext issue.

         Express Scripts points to other cases within the Seventh Circuit and notes that the other courts held that employers' reorganization, reduction in force, or financial difficulties were legitimate reasons for termination. Express Scripts then goes on to distinguish “position” from “duties” and asserts that a “position” can be eliminated and the duties of a laid-off employee can be absorbed by a retained employee. It explains that such is the case here; Tucker's position was eliminated, and another supervisor absorbed Tucker's duties. Express Scripts then asserts that, “[b]ound by the above precedents and ...


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