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Sanders v. Family Dollar Stores, Inc.

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Rock Hill Division

February 9, 2018

Eric Alan Sanders, Plaintiff,
v.
Family Dollar Stores, Inc., Defendant.

          AMENDED ORDER AND OPINION

         Before the court is Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration (ECF No. 118). Plaintiff moves the court to alter or reconsider its Order denying his Motion for Relief from Final Judgment (ECF No. 107).[1] (ECF No. 114) (“October 30, 2017 Order”). The October 30, 2017 Order denied Plaintiff's Motion for Relief from Final Judgment of the court's Order accepting the Magistrate Judges' Report and Recommendation (“Report”) (ECF Nos. 93, 98). For the reasons stated below, the court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration (ECF No. 118).[2]

         I. RELEVANT FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         The court concludes upon its own careful review of the record that the factual and procedural summation in the Magistrate Judge's Report (ECF No. 93) is accurate, and the court adopts this summary as its own. Subsequently, the court will only recite herein facts pertinent to the analysis of Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration (ECF No. 118). The Report (ECF No. 93) was filed on November 22, 2016, and on January 3, 2017, the court accepted the Report granting Defendant's Motion to Dismiss for Plaintiff's Failure to Participate in Discovery (ECF No. 80) and dismissing with prejudice Plaintiff's Complaint (ECF No. 1). (ECF No. 98) (“January 3, 2017 Order”). On January 23, 2017, Plaintiff appealed the court's January 3, 2017 Order and Judgment (ECF Nos. 98, 99) to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (“Fourth Circuit”). (ECF No. 101.) On August 14, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Relief from Final Judgment. (ECF No. 107.) On August 22, 2017, the Fourth Circuit affirmed the court's January 3, 2017 Order, finding no reversible error and denying Plaintiff's pending motions on the Fourth Circuit's Docket. (ECF No. 108.) The Mandate and Judgment of the Fourth Circuit was filed on October 10, 2017. (ECF No. 111.)

         On October 30, 2017, the court denied Plaintiff's Motion for Relief from Final Judgment (ECF No. 107). (ECF No. 114.) On November 27, 2017, Plaintiff timely filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the court's October 30, 2017 Order, and appealed this Order to the Fourth Circuit. (ECF Nos. 118, 120.) On December 11, 2017, Defendant responded to Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration (ECF No. 118). (ECF No. 125.) On December 28, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the Supreme Court of the United States, appealing the Fourth Circuit's affirmation of the District Court's January 3, 2017 Order (ECF No. 108). (ECF No. 128.)

         II. JURISDICTION

         The court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 based on Plaintiff's allegations arising under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) and 42 U.S.C. § 12112 (The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990). The court also has jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3) to hear Plaintiff's Title VII claim, which specifically grants jurisdiction to the court to hear cases under Title VII.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         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).

         As Plaintiff is a pro se litigant, the court is required to liberally construe his arguments. Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978); see also Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (pro se plaintiff's “inartful pleadings” may be sufficient enough to provide the opportunity to offer supporting evidence.)

         IV. ANALYSIS

         Plaintiff moves the court to alter or reconsider its October 30, 2017 Order for several reasons, but the court will only analyze those that it construes to be proper under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e). Taking into consideration that Plaintiff is a pro se litigant, the court construes that Plaintiff moves the court to alter or reconsider its October 30, 2017 Order on the basis that: (1) the court made a clear error of law because it did not have jurisdiction to rule on his Motion for Reconsideration (ECF No. 107). (ECF No. 118 at 1-2, 5). Plaintiff also moves the court to reconsider its Order because (2) the court made a clear error of law in denying his Motion for Reconsideration (ECF No. 107) without Defendant opposing it (ECF No. 118 at 7-8); (3) the court made a clear error of law in finding that he was not diligent in obtaining evidence of his wife and mother's license suspensions (id. at 8-9); and in finding that he was not diligent in “obtaining and presenting” Dr. Caleb Loring's Report to the court (id. at 10-13); (4) the court's finding that Dr. Loring's Report was cumulative and therefore would also not afford Plaintiff relief under Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(2) creates a manifest injustice (id. at 13-16); (5) the court made a clear error of law in not considering whether his wife and mother's license suspensions allowed for relief under Rule 60(b)(6) (id. at 24); lastly, (6) it is a manifest injustice to dismiss his case when lesser sanctions were available to sanction him (id. at 25-26).[3] The court finds that Plaintiff's other grounds for alteration or reconsideration are not proper pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) because they cannot be construed to fall under any of the three sub-categories noted.

         1. Court's Jurisdiction as to Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration (ECF No. 107)

         Plaintiff asserts that the court did not have jurisdiction to rule on the merits of his August 14, 2017 Motion for Relief from Final Judgment (ECF No. 107) because the court was divested of jurisdiction and the Supreme Court of the United States had “exclusive jurisdiction over this claim until January 10, 2018.”[4] (ECF No. 118 at 1-2, 5.) The court disagrees that it did not have jurisdiction to rule on Plaintiff's Motion for Relief from Final Judgment (ECF No. 107), because the court “retains jurisdiction over matters ‘in aid of appeal.'” Fobian v. Storage Tech. Corp., 164 F.3d 887, 890 (4th Cir. 1999) (citing Grand Jury Proceedings Under Seal v. United States, 947 F.2d 1188, 1190 (4th Cir. 1991)).

         Plaintiff's Motion for Relief from Final Judgment relied on Plaintiff's receipt of alleged new evidence, and may have aided the Fourth Circuit in making its decision regarding Plaintiff's Appeal, but the Fourth Circuit made a decision without the court's input. (See ECF No. 108). However, the Fourth Circuit's decision did not divest the court of jurisdiction to consider Plaintiff's Motion for Relief from Final Judgment (ECF No. 107). See Standard Oil Co. of California v. United States, 429 U.S. 17, 17 (1976) (holding that a district court may consider a Rule 60(b) motion following an appellate ...


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