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Stoyanov v. Mabus

United States District Court, D. Maryland

June 13, 2016



          DEBORAH K. CHASANOW United States District Judge

         Presently pending and ready for resolution in this employment discrimination case are: (1) a motion for reconsideration filed by Plaintiff Yuri J. Stoyanov ("Plaintiff") (ECF No. 40); (2) a motion for leave to file a motion for summary judgment on the remaining claims, and a motion for summary judgment filed by Defendant Ray Mabus ("Defendant") (ECF Nos. 39; 44); and (3) two "motion[s] for sanctions and for leave to rebut" Defendant's arguments filed by Plaintiff (ECF Nos. 43; 55). The relevant issues have been briefed, and the court now rules, no hearing being deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration and his motions for sanctions will be denied. Defendant's motion for summary judgment will be granted.

         I. Background

         A full discussion of the procedural and factual background of this case may be found in a prior memorandum opinion issued on August 26, 2015. (ECF No. 37, at 1-7). Additional relevant facts will be discussed in the analysis section. The complaint, filed by pro se Plaintiff on July 25, 2007, asserted fourteen counts arising out of thirteen "Incidents."[1] (See ECF No. 1, at 22-24, 29-44). The August 26 memorandum opinion and accompanying order granted in part and denied in part Defendant's motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. (ECF Nos. 37; 38). All of Plaintiff's claims against defendants other than Defendant Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy, were dismissed. (See ECF No. 38 ¶ 3). The only claims that remain are certain of Plaintiff's allegations that the Navy failed to hire or promote him due to his national origin and age in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII") and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (the "ADEA") (Counts I and III), and in retaliation for his Equal Employment Opportunity complaints in violation of Title VII (Count II). Specifically, only claims within Counts I, II, and III regarding Incidents 8, 9, 11, 12, and 13 remain. (See Id. ¶ 5). These remaining claims assert that Plaintiff was discriminated or retaliated against when the Navy, Plaintiff's employer at all relevant times, failed to promote him to five ND-5 Program Manager positions and instead promoted or assigned work to other employees who Plaintiff alleges were less qualified.

         On September 9, 2015, Defendant filed the pending motion for leave to file a motion for summary judgment on the remaining claims. (ECF No. 39). Plaintiff filed the pending motion for reconsideration (ECF No. 40), and Defendant responded (ECF No. 42). Plaintiff filed a "motion for sanctions and for leave to rebut Defendant's [] Response." (ECF No. 43). On October 9, Defendant filed the pending motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 44), which is fully briefed (ECF Nos. 51; 54). Finally, Plaintiff filed another pending "motion for sanctions and for leave to rebut" Defendant's reply. (ECF No. 55).

         II. Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration

         Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b) governs reconsideration of an interlocutory order. See Fayetteville Investors v. Commercial Builders, Inc., 936 F.2d 1462, 1469-70 (4th Cir. 1991). Rule 54(b) provides that "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 . . . may be revised at any time before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all the claims and all the parties' rights and liabilities." "In the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, the precise standard governing a motion for reconsideration of an interlocutory order is unclear." Innes v. Board of Regents of the Univ. Sys. of Md., 121 F.Supp.3d 504, 506 (D.Md. 2015) (citing Fayetteville Investors, 936 F.2d at 1472). "While the standards articulated in Rules 59(e) and 60(b) are not binding in an analysis of Rule 54(b) motions, courts frequently look to these standards for guidance in considering such motions." Id. at 506-07 (citing Am. Canoe Ass'n v. Murphy Farms, Inc., 326 F.3d 505, 514 (4th Cir. 2003); Akeva, LLC v. Adidas Am., Inc., 385 F.Supp.2d 559, 565-66 (M.D. N.C. 2005)).

Public policy favors an end to litigation and recognizes that efficient operation requires the avoidance of re-arguing questions that have already been decided. Most courts have adhered to a fairly narrow set of grounds on which to reconsider their interlocutory orders and opinions. Courts will reconsider an interlocutory order in the following situations: (1) there has been an intervening change in controlling law; (2) there is additional evidence that was not previously available; or (3) the prior decision was based on clear error or would work manifest injustice.

Akeva, 385 F.Supp.2d at 565-66 (citations omitted); see also Beyond Sys., Inc. v. Kraft Foods., Inc., No. PJM-08-409, 2010 WL 3059344, at *1-2 (D.Md. Aug.4, 2010) (applying this three-part test when evaluating a motion for reconsideration under Rule 54(b)). Importantly, a motion for reconsideration under Rule 54(b) may not be used merely to reiterate arguments previously rejected by the court. Beyond Sys., Inc., 2010 WL 3059344, at *2.

         Plaintiff argues that reconsideration is appropriate because the August 26 memorandum opinion and order is "unsupported by evidence, wrong, with misrepresentations and [is] virtually a copy of [defense counsel's] fraudulent submissions to the court." (ECF No. 40, at 1). Plaintiff's specific justifications for reconsideration under the standard set forth in Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) are not entirely clear. He has not identified any intervening change in law, newly developed evidence, clear error of law, or manifest injustice to warrant an alteration of the prior opinion. The arguments he appears to assert in support of his motion for reconsideration are unpersuasive.

         The overarching argument throughout Plaintiff's motion is that the court improperly relied on Defendant's alleged fraudulent representations. Plaintiff's motion rehashes the same arguments raised earlier in this case and in numerous prior actions as well. Plaintiff's assertions of fraud and misconduct appear simply to be disagreements with Defendant's legal arguments and the court's conclusions. Once again, "Plaintiff supports this motion with nothing more than vague, subjective, and unsubstantiated allegations of misconduct. Absent some specific evidence of wrongdoing, the extraordinary relief sought is unwarranted." (ECF No. 37, at 46-47 (citing Stoyanov v. Mabus, No. DKC-07-1953, 2012 WL 1957841, at *2 (D.Md. May 30, 2012))).

         Moreover, Plaintiff fails to articulate why reconsideration is necessary to correct a clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice. To justify reconsideration on the basis of clear error or manifest injustice, the prior decision cannot be "just maybe or probably wrong; it must . . . strike [the court] as wrong with the force of a five-week-old, unrefrigerated dead fish." TFWS, Inc. v. Franchot, 572 F.3d 186, 194 (4th Cir. 2009) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Here, Plaintiff asserts many of the same substantive arguments as before. Such a "reiteration of prior arguments reveals a ‘mere disagreement' with the court's decision and thus is an insufficient basis for such an extraordinary remedy." Panowicz v. Hancock, No. DKC-11-2417, 2015 WL 5895528, at *3 (D.Md. Oct. 5, 2015) (citing Hutchinson v. Staton, 994 F.2d 1076, 1082 (4thCir. 1993)). Plaintiff's conclusory and repetitive legal arguments do not warrant reconsideration and are, in some instances, irrelevant or incorrect. Accordingly, Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration will be denied.

         III. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment

         A. ...

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