United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO ALTER OR AMEND
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Shingairai
Feresu's (“Ms. Feresu”) Motion to Request for
Trustees of Indiana University to give a Legal Assurance that
they do not mingle and Divuldge my case with University of
Pretoria- My New Employer (Filing No. 68). In this
filing, Ms. Feresu asks the Court to reconsider its Entry
denying her request to order the Defendants, the Trustees of
Indiana University Bloomington (“IU”) to not
“divulge” information regarding this litigation
to her employer in South Africa. The Court will treat the
filing as a Motion to Reconsider/ Motion to Alter or Amend
December 7, 2016, Ms. Feresu filed three duplicative entries
requesting that the Court not allow IU to “mingle or
divulge” information regarding this litigation to her
employer in South Africa (Filing No. 64; Filing
No. 65; Filing No. 66). She also asked the
Court to extend the response time to file her surreply brief
regarding IU's motion for summary judgment. The Court
denied as moot Ms. Feresu's request to prohibit IU from
“mingling or divulging” information regarding
this litigation to her employer in South Africa because this
request is not an issue related to this litigation
(Filing No. 67). The Court also denied the request
for additional time to file a surreply brief. Id.
Ms. Feresu promptly filed the instant Motion asking the Court
to reconsider or amend its denial of her request to not allow
IU to “mingle or divulge” information regarding
this litigation (Filing No. 68).
purpose of a motion to alter or amend judgment under Rule
59(e) 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). “A Rule 59(e) 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). Relief pursuant to a Rule 59(e) motion to
alter or amend is an “extraordinary remed[y] reserved
for the exceptional case.” Foster v. DeLuca,
545 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2008).
59(e) motion may be used “to draw the district
court's attention to a manifest error of law or fact or
to newly discovered evidence.” United States v.
Resnick, 594 F.3d 562, 568 (7th Cir. 2010). 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).
Furthermore, “a Rule 59(e) motion is not an opportunity
to relitigate motions or present arguments, issues, or facts
that could and should have been presented earlier.”
Brownstone Publ'g, LLC v. AT&T, Inc., 2009
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25485, at *7 (S.D. Ind. Mar. 24, 2009).
Feresu has not established a manifest error of law or fact in
the Court's previous ruling. Federal courts are courts of
public record, and “‘[d]ocuments that affect the
disposition of federal litigation are presumptively open to
public view.'” Charles Schwab & Co. v.
Staley, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117906, at *2 (S.D. Ind.
Sep. 3, 2015) (quoting Goesel v. Boley Int'l (H.K.)
Ltd., 738 F.3d 831, 833 (7th Cir. 2013)). “The
presumption, however, can be rebutted. A litigant is allowed,
for example, to conceal trade secrets, and, if there are
compelling reasons of personal privacy, to litigate under a
pseudonym.” Goesel, 738 F.3d at 833. However,
the presumption is not rebutted by the fact that parties
simply do not want to disclose information. See Id.
The reason for this right of public access to the judicial
record is to enable interested members of the public,
including lawyers, journalists, and government officials, to
know who's using the courts, to understand judicial
decisions, and to monitor the judiciary's performance of
its duties. As Holmes put it, “It is desirable that the
trial of causes should take place under the public eye, not
because the controversies of one citizen with another are of
public concern, but because it is of the highest moment that
those who administer justice should always act under the
sense of public responsibility, and that every citizen should
be able to satisfy himself with his own eyes as to the mode
in which a public duty is performed.”
Id. at 833 (citations omitted).
Seventh Circuit has further explained that courts cannot
“grant a virtual carte blanche to either party to
seal whatever portions of the record the party want[s] to
seal. . . . The parties to a lawsuit are not the only people
who have a legitimate interest in the record compiled in a
legal proceeding.” Citizens First Nat'l Bank of
Princeton v. Cincinnati Ins. Co., 178 F.3d 943, 944 (7th
Cir. 1999). “[T]he public at large pays for the courts
and therefore has an interest in what goes on at all stages
of a judicial proceeding.” Id. at 945.
Feresu's requested relief is not warranted because the
instant case is a matter of public record. In essence, Ms.
Feresu is asking the court to restrict public access to this
pending litigation. Ms. Feresu has not requested a protective
order of a specific document, rather, she is attempting to
restrict access to the litigation in general. She has not
presented an adequate basis to rebut the presumption of
public access to court records.
addition, the Court did not err in finding that Ms.
Feresu's request to restrict Defendants from giving
information regarding this litigation, is not related to the
issues of this litigation. Copied from her initial motion,
Ms. Feresu again asserts in her motion to reconsider that she
simply does not want her information shared with anyone, and
the nature of this case is “sensitive” because it
involves a sexual harassment claim. However, as the Seventh
Circuit explained, the presumption is not rebutted by the
fact that parties simply do not want to disclose information.
Furthermore, sensitive issues arise in many cases, and Ms.
Feresu's reason for nondisclosure would require that
every employment discrimination case involving a sexual
harassment claim be maintained under seal. Ms. Feresu has not
rebutted the presumption of public access. There was no
manifest error in the Court's Entry, and Ms. Feresu
failed to point out any facts or law to suggest otherwise.
Thus, Ms. Feresu's Motion to reconsider is DENIED
(Filing No. 68).
established deadline for Ms. Feresu to file a surreply brief
to IU's motion for summary judgment remains in place. Any
surreply brief must be filed no later than Monday, December
19, 2016, and must be no more than twenty (20) pages in
length. It should not discuss claims that are not before the
Court such as claims under the Americans with Disabilities
Act and Equal Rights Under Law, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, or for
sexual orientation discrimination.
Feresu acknowledged in her Motion that her duplicative
filings at Docket 64 and Docket 65 were filed in error and
that the filing at Docket 66 was the “final
document.” (Filing No. 68 at 1.) Therefore,