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Yin v. Columbia International University

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division

September 28, 2017

Lishu Yin, Plaintiff,
v.
Columbia International University, Defendant.

          ORDER AND OPINION

         This case is before the court on Columbia International University's (“Defendant”) Motion for Certification of an Issue for Interlocutory Appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b). (ECF No. 71.) In the alternative, Defendant, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e), moves for reconsideration of this court's September 26, 2016 order (ECF No. 66) denying Defendant's Motion to Dismiss pro se Plaintiff Lishu Yin's (“Plaintiff”) federal claims for discrimination and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII, ”) 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et. seq. and pay discrimination in violation of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (“EPA, ”) 29 U.S.C. § 206(d). (Id.) Plaintiff opposes Defendant's Motion to Reconsider. (ECF No. 84.) For the reasons stated herein, the court DENIES Defendant's Motion for Certification of an Issue for Interlocutory Appeal and DENIES Defendant's Motion to Reconsider.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed her Complaint in this court pro se on September 11, 2015. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant discriminated and retaliated against her on the basis of race, sex, and national origin under Title VII. (Id. at 4, 36.) Plaintiff also alleges a claim of pay discrimination under the EPA (Id.), and defamation under state law. (Id. at 36.) On November 9, 2015, Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) and/or to Strike pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f). (ECF No. 20.) On April 11, 2016, Magistrate Judge Paige Gossett issued a Report and Recommendation (“Report”) granting Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's defamation claim, and denying Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's federal claims and its Motion to Strike Plaintiff's allegedly untimely allegations. (ECF No. 40.) On September 26, 2016, after proper objections were filed by both Plaintiff and Defendant to the Magistrate Judge's Report (ECF Nos. 43, 44), this court entered an order adopting the Magistrate Judge's Report. (ECF No. 66.)

         On October 24, 2016, Defendant filed its Motion for Certification of an Issue for Interlocutory Appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b) or, in the Alternative, Motion to Reconsider under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e), stating that Plaintiff was a minister, thus barring her federal claims under the ministerial exception.[1] (ECF No. 71.) On November 10, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Response in Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Certification of an Issue for Interlocutory Appeal or, in the Alternative, Motion to Reconsider, denying among other things that she is a “minister” thus making the “ministerial exception” inapplicable. (ECF No. 84.) Defendant replied to Plaintiff's response in opposition, reaffirming the facts and law that were present in its original Motion (ECF Nos. 71, 71-1). (ECF No. 95.) On July 20 and July 28, 2017, Defendant filed Supplemental Authorities in Support of its Motion for Reconsideration. (ECF Nos. 110, 114.) On July 25 and August 1, 2017, Plaintiff filed Memoranda in Opposition. (ECF Nos. 111, 115.)

         II. JURISDICTION

         This court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Plaintiff alleges claims under Title VII and the EPA, thus, Plaintiff's claims arise under the laws or Constitution of the United States and jurisdiction is proper.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         a. Interlocutory Appeal Under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b)

         In civil actions, a party may only appeal from final orders and certain limited interlocutory and collateral orders of the district courts. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1291, 1292; see also Cohen v. Beneficial Indus. Loan Corp., 337 U.S. 541, 545 (1949). This limitation “advances the important interest of avoiding piecemeal review of ongoing district court proceedings, ” which “would not only delay the ultimate resolution of disputes by spawning multiple appeals, ” but would also “undermine the independence of the district judge.” MDK, Inc. v. Mike's Train House, Inc., 27 F.3d 116, 119 (4th Cir. 1994) (citations omitted).

         A district court may certify an order to the Court of Appeals for interlocutory review under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b) when the district judge believes that the order involves “a controlling question of law as to which there is substantial ground for difference of opinion and that an immediate appeal from the order may materially advance the ultimate termination of the litigation.” See Swint v. Chambers Cty. Comm'n, 514 U.S. 35, 37 (1995) (“. . . 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b) confers on district courts, first line discretion to certify for immediate appeal interlocutory orders deemed pivotal and debatable . . .”)

         b. Reconsideration Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e)

         Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e), a court may “alter or amend the judgment if the movant shows either (1) an intervening change in the controlling law, (2) new evidence that was not available at trial, or (3) that there has been a clear error of law or a manifest injustice.” Robinson v. Wix Filtration Corp., 599 F.3d 403, 407 (4th Cir. 2010) (citation omitted). It is the moving party's burden to establish one of these three grounds in order to obtain relief under this rule. Loren Data Corp. v. GXS, Inc., 501 Fed. App'x 275, 285 (4th Cir. 2012). The decision whether to reconsider an order pursuant to this rule is within the discretion of the district court. See Hughes v. Bedsole, 48 F.3d 1376, 1382 (4th Cir. 1995).

         IV. ANALYSIS

         a. Motion for Certification of an Order for Interlocutory Appeal ...


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