United States District Court, D. Maryland
KEVIN R. VESSELLS, Plaintiff
KAYDON RING AND SEAL, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
K. BREDAR CHIEF JUDGE
26, 2018, the Court entered an order granting summary
judgment for Defendant on all counts and closing this case.
(See Order, ECF No. 39.) Plaintiff has now moved to
alter or amend that judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 59(e). Specifically, Plaintiff contends that
the Court was incorrect in granting summary judgment for
Defendant on Plaintiffs retaliatory discipline and
termination claims. For the reasons stated herein, Plaintiffs
motion is DENIED.
Rule 59(e), "there are three grounds for amending an
earlier judgment: (1) to accommodate an intervening change in
controlling law; (2) to account for new evidence not
available at trial; or (3) to correct a clear error of law or
prevent manifest injustice." Pacific Ins. Co. v. Am.
Nat. Fire. Ins. Co., 148 F.3d 396, 403 (4th Cir. 1998).
"Rule 59(e) motions may not be used, however, to raise
arguments which could have been raised prior to the issuance
of the judgment, nor may they be used to argue a case under a
novel legal theory that the party had the ability to address
in the first instance." Id.
moves the Court to amend its judgment for one reason:
According to Plaintiff, the Court incorrectly found that he
had not provided sufficient evidence of causation to
establish a prima facie case of retaliation in
violation of Title VII, and this constitutes a clear error of
law. (See Mot. Reconsideration Mem. Supp. 2, ECF No.
41-1.) The Court will not grant Plaintiffs motion on that
ground for three reasons.
Plaintiff appears to misread the Court's earlier opinion,
or the evidence presented in this case. Plaintiff takes issue
with a particular sentence in the Court's memorandum
opinion, in which the Court wrote: "[. . .] Plaintiff
does not dispute . . . that Mr. Sewell was not aware of
Plaintiffs past complaints of discrimination." (Mem. 24,
ECF No. 38.) Plaintiff now directs the Court to his
supplement to his opposition in which he wrote: "Sewell
admitted that he was aware of at least one complaint by
Vessells after September 2014. He later admitted that, during
the disciplinary process he became aware of '[s]imilar
complaints as being aired in these proceedings.'"
(Supp. to Pl.s Mem. in Opp'n to Mot. Summ. J., ECF No. 34
(internal citations omitted).)
misreads Mr. Sewell's testimony. Mr. Sewell, one of
Plaintiff s supervisors who ultimately made the decision to
fire Plaintiff, was asked in his deposition, "Were you
aware of the fact that he [i.e., Plaintiff] had made
complaints of race discrimination prior to the time you made
the decision to terminate him?" Mr. Sewell answered,
"No." (Sewell Dep. 112, ECF No. 28.) Plaintiff has
not disputed that Mr. Sewell said this, or provided any
evidence that it is not true. Mr. Sewell was also asked about
whether he had been aware of Plaintiffs complaint about a
hose that, according to Plaintiff, was tied up like a noose.
Mr. Sewell said that he was not aware when he decided to fire
Plaintiff that Plaintiff had made such a compliant. (See
id at 9, 112.) Again, Plaintiff has not disputed that
Mr. Sewell said this, or provided any evidence that it is not
true. Neither did Plaintiff argue, in his opposition,
supplement to that opposition, or in his motion to amend the
judgment, that Mr. Sewell contradicted himself in his
sure, Mr. Sewell did admit that he was aware of at least one
complaint Plaintiff had made, but he nowhere admits, and in
fact he explicitly denies, that he was aware of any complaint
involving racial discrimination. Mr. Sewell stated
that he was aware of some of Plaintiffs complaints about
disciplinary actions, and that he had investigated those
complaints, by, for example, checking the job and part number
mentioned in a particular complaint. These statements do not
sufficiently dispute Mr. Sewell's other, clearer,
statements that he was unaware of Plaintiffs complaints of
racial discrimination. And it is those complaints that are
legally significant in this case.
as the Court wrote in its memorandum opinion, "[e]ven if
[it] were to find that Plaintiff had established
a prima facie case of race discrimination or
retaliation, Plaintiff would still be unable to rebut
Defendant's legitimate non-discriminatory reasons for the
various adverse employment actions it took against him."
(Mem. at 23 (emphasis in the original).) That is, even if
Plaintiff could establish a causal link between some
complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and
a disciplinary action, he would still need to rebut
Defendant's legitimate non-discriminatory reason for that
disciplinary action. And he did not rebut Defendant's
legitimate non-discriminatory reasons-for any of the
disciplinary actions taken against him.
now focuses on one particular disciplinary action, the
September 17 disciplinary write up, and argues that the
substance of this write up is disputed. But Plaintiff
disputes its substance now by reference to a new declaration
and several new exhibits. Although Plaintiff may wish to
"correct the record" (Mot. Reconsideration Mem.
Supp. at 2), his time for doing so has passed. See
Pacific Ins. Co., 148 F.3d at 403. Plaintiff does not
explain why he was unable to present this evidence or make
these arguments to the Court prior to its entry of judgment
for Defendant. See Almy v. Sebelius, 749 F.Supp.2d
315, 338 (D. Md. 2010) ("Further, the Plaintiff presents
no reason why these new arguments were not made prior to this
Court's entry of its Order. Thus, the Plaintiff has not
met the grounds for reconsideration under Rule 59(e).").
Furthermore, Plaintiffs new declaration and other evidence
does not clearly dispute the substance of the September 17
write up. Rather, Plaintiff presents a note purportedly
written by his supervisor which he claims demonstrates that
he performed a certain job correctly,  and then he
declares he was told (he does not say by whom) that Defendant
would not discipline him for this job before he was
disciplined for that job by Mr. Sewell. Even if the Court had
considered this evidence earlier, it would not have changed
its fundamental opinion that Plaintiff has not sufficiently
disputed the facts put forth by Defendant that he
continuously performed poor work, and was disciplined and
ultimately terminated for that reason.
reasons stated herein, Plaintiffs motion to alter or amend a
judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) is
 If this note demonstrates that
Plaintiff performed this job correctly at all, it at least