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Vincent v. Resurrection Cemetery

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

March 22, 2018

Nathan A. Vincent, Plaintiff,
v.
Resurrection Cemetery, Defendant.

          R. Steven Whalen, United States Magistrate Judge

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION [26]

          GERSHWIN A. DRAIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         The Plaintiff-Nathan A. Vincent-initiated this litigation on March 7, 2017. See Dkt. No. 1. He sued the Defendant, Resurrection Cemetery, alleging it discriminated and retaliated against him in contravention of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act under Michigan law. See Id. at pp. 13-19 (Pg. ID 13-19). The Defendant moved for summary judgment on November 13, 2017, and the Court denied the motion on January 22, 2018. See Dkt. Nos. 16, 22.

         Presently before the Court is the Defendant's Motion for Reconsideration of the Court's Opinion and Order Denying the Defendant's Summary Judgment Motion [26]. The Defendant moves under Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Local Rule 7.1(h), and filed this motion on February 5, 2018. The Court has not ordered a response from the Plaintiff. See E.D. Mich. L.R. 7.1(h)(2). For the foregoing reasons, the Court will DENY the Defendant's Motion for Reconsideration [26].

         II. Discussion

         The sole issue on summary judgment was whether the Plaintiff's December 15, 2015 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) intake questionnaire constituted a “charge.” All agree that if Plaintiff's intake questionnaire was a charge, then his claim must fail. In that scenario, he would have had to-but did not-file a claim in federal court within ninety days of the February 2, 2016 a right to sue letter.[1] See Dkt. No. 22. Because the intake questionnaire was not verified, the Court concluded it was not a charge and that Vincent's claim was timely filed. See Id. Thus, the Court denied the Defendant's summary judgment motion. See Id. As this ruling was not clear or palpable error, the Court will deny the Defendant's Motion for Reconsideration.

         A. Charge Requirements for ADA Claim

         Parties moving for reconsideration bear a high burden of persuasion. See E.D. Mich. L.R. 7.1(h)(3). First, the Eastern District of Michigan local rules provide that:

Generally, and without restricting the Court's discretion, the Court will not grant motions for rehearing or reconsideration that merely present the same issues ruled upon by the Court, either expressly or by reasonable implication. The movant must not only demonstrate a palpable defect by which the Court and the parties and other persons entitled to be heard on the motion have been misled but also show that correcting the defect will result in a different disposition of the case.

Id. And, “[a] ‘palpable defect' is ‘a defect that is obvious, clear, unmistakable, manifest or plain.' ” Buchanan v. Metz, 6 F.Supp.3d 730, 752 (E.D. Mich. 2014) (quoting United States v. Lockett, 328 F.Supp.2d 682, 684 (E.D. Mich. 2004)).

         Similarly, “[a] Rule 59 motion should only be granted if there was (1) a clear error of law; (2) newly discovered evidence; (3) an intervening change in controlling law; or (4) a need to prevent manifest injustice.” Mich. Flyer LLC v. Wayne Cty. Airport Auth., 860 F.3d 425, 431 (6th Cir. 2017) (citing Leisure Caviar, LLC v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Serv., 616 F.3d 612, 615 (6th Cir. 2010)). “ ‘A motion under Rule 59(e), ” the Sixth Circuit wrote, “ ‘is not an opportunity to re-argue a case.' ” Id. (quoting Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians v. Engler, 146 F.3d 367, 374 (6th Cir. 1998)). The court reasoned that “ ‘[i]f a permissive amendment policy applied after adverse judgments, plaintiffs could use the court as a sounding board to discover holes in their arguments, then reopen the case by amending their complaint to take account of the court's decision.' ” Id. (quoting Leisure Caviar, 616 F.3d at 616). Courts have not utilized this approach because “ ‘[it] would sidestep the narrow grounds for obtaining post-judgment relief under Rules 59 and 60, make the finality of judgments an interim concept and risk turning Rules 59 and 60 into nullities.' ” Id. (quoting Leisure Caviar, 616 F.3d at 616).

         The Court's holding was palpable or clear error, according to Resurrection Cemetery, because verification is not dispositive. Dkt. No. 26, p. 3 (Pg. ID 256). It contends that instead the critical inquiry is whether an objectively reasonable examination of the questionnaire reveals that Vincent intended to initiate remedial action. Id. Principally relying on Fed. Express Corp. v. Holowecki, 552 U.S. 389 (2008), the Defendant then maintains that the filing satisfies this test.

         Holowecki applies here, but the Defendant misunderstands its mandate. The Holowecki court held that a charge must have two characteristics: First, the filing must include “the information required by the regulations, i.e., an allegation and the name of the charged party[]”; and second, “it must be reasonably construed as a request for the agency to take remedial action to protect ...


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