United States District Court, D. Maryland
RICHARD D. BENNETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case arises from the claim of alleged employment
discrimination by Plaintiff Michael Bracey ("Plaintiff
or "Bracey") against Defendant Lancaster Foods LLC
("Defendant" or "Lancaster"). On March
30, 2018, this Court granted the Defendant's Motion to
Dismiss and Compel Arbitration and dismissed Plaintiffs
Complaint. (ECF Nos. 30, 31.) Now pending before this Court
is Defendant's Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Costs
(ECF No. 32); and Plaintiffs Motion for Reconsideration
pursuant to Rule 60(b) of the' Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure (ECF No. 33). The submission has been reviewed and
no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D.
Md. 2018). For the reasons stated below, -Plaintiffs Motion
for Reconsideration (ECF No. 33) is DENIED. This Court will
STAY Defendant's Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Costs
(ECF No. 32) pending the resolution of this case on appeal.
facts of this case have been previously discussed in a
Memorandum Opinion of this Court and are briefly addressed
herein. Bracey v. Lancaster Foods, LLC, RDB-17-1826,
2018 WL 1570239 (D. Md. March 30, 2018). This case concerns
Lancaster's alleged violations of the American
Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 ("ADAAA"),
the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), and the
Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act ("MFEPA").
In his Amended Complaint, Bracey alleges that he began
working for Lancaster in 2008 as a Commercial Driver's
License (CDL) Class "A" Driver. (ECF No. 17, at 1.)
Prior to being hired by Lancaster, Bracey entered into an
arbitration agreement with the company (the
"Agreement"). (Id. at ¶ 71.) Bracey
alleges that he became a Yard Jockey in 2010, a job position
which the Amended Complaint vaguely describes as
"requiring] him to move products from the warehouse to
other locations." (Id. at 1.)
August 11, 2014, while employed as a Yard Jockey, Bracey
suffered a work-related injury to his leg. (ECF No. 17 at
¶¶ 11-12.) Bracey returned to work on February 15,
2015 on light duty after undergoing surgeries and physical
therapy over a period of six months. (Id. at ¶
15.) In late March, he resumed physical therapy.
(Id. at ¶ 16.) Bracey was then discharged by
his physical therapists on May 19, 2015 "at the Medium
Physical Demand Category limiting his ability to lift weights
that were more than 37-57 pounds." (Id. at
¶ 18.) The next day Bracey's personal physician, Dr.
Greg Osgood, M.D., recommended that he continue to work on
light duty for an additional six months, determining that he
had trauma arthritis in his arm. (Id. at ¶ 21
-) On June 9, 2015, an independent medical examiner evaluated
Bracey and released him to "full duty without
restrictions." (Id. at ¶ 27.) Bracey,
however, continued to follow Dr. Osgood's recommendation
and work light duty. (Id. at ¶ 30.)
that month, in a letter dated June 18, 2015 and received by
Bracey on June 23, 2015, Lancaster's safety manager
informed Bracey that Lancaster had received the independent
medical examiner's report, and unless the company heard
back from him by June 26, 2015, the company would consider
him to have resigned. (Id. at ¶ 32.) On June
23, Bracey contacted the Director of Human
Resources, who told him that he was to return to work
"without restrictions or risk being resigned."
(Id. at ¶ 33.) Bracey reported to work but
continued to insist that he could not work full duty.
(Id. at ¶¶ 51, 52.) He alleges that he
requested meetings with Lancaster employees to discuss his
accommodations and light duty requests, but Lancaster did not
afford him these meetings. (Id. at ¶ 39, 42,
57.) On June 26, 2015, Bracey received another letter from
Lancaster which again threatened that he would be
"deemed resigned" if he did not report to work
ready for full duty. (Id. at ¶ 49.) Having not
complied with Lancaster's directions, on July 7, 2015, he
received a letter from Lancaster foods which indicated that
he had resigned. (Id. at ¶ 61.) Bracey disputes
this representation. (Id.)
five months later, on or about December 12, 2015, Bracey
filed a Charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission ("EEOC"). (Id. at ¶ 67.)
Over a year later, he ultimately received a Right to Sue
letter on February 5, 2017. (Id. at ¶ 7.) On
April 28, 2017, Plaintiff commenced this lawsuit in the
Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County alleging interference
and retaliation under the Family and Medical Leave Act of
1993, 29 U.S.C §§ 2601, et seq. (Counts I,
II); discrimination, failure to accommodate, and retaliation
under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act
("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101, et
seq. (Counts III-V); disability discrimination, wrongful
discharge, failure to accommodate, and disability retaliation
under the Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act
("FEPA"), Md. Code, State Gov't §
20-266(a) (Count VI-VIII); and breach of the contract of good
faith and fair dealing (Count IX). On June 30, 2017,
Defendant removed the action to this Court based on federal
question jurisdiction, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
11, 2017, Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss and Compel
Arbitration on the ground that Plaintiff had signed an
Arbitration Agreement. (ECF No. 10.) Plaintiff then moved to
stay the proceedings pending the receipt of files and other
documents from the EEOC, which this Court granted. (ECF Nos.
11, 13.) After receiving the file, on November 17, 2017,
'Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 17.) On
December 4, 2017, Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss and
Compel Arbitration. (ECF No. 21.) In response, Bracey argued
that the arbitration agreement was unconscionable because it
effectively shortened the applicable limitations period by
requiring him to submit an arbitration request to his
employer within one year of the conduct giving rise to his
claim. (ECF No. 22.) On March 30, 2018, this Court granted
the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and Compel Arbitration,
finding that the arbitration agreement was neither
procedurally nor substantively unconscionable. On April 13,
2018, Lancaster filed the pending Motion for Attorney's
Fees and Costs. Subsequently, Plaintiff filed the instant
Motion for Reconsideration under FRCP 60 on April 26, 2018.
In the Motion, Plaintiff claims that he has discovered new
evidence which purportedly reveals that he is exempt from
arbitration because, as a truck driver employed to ship goods
in interstate commerce, he is exempt from arbitration under
Section 1 of the Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA").
This is an entirely novel legal argument; Bracey did not
allege that he was engaged in interstate commerce in the
Amended Complaint and did not argue that he fit this
exception in response to Lancaster's Motion to Dismiss.
On April 27, 2018 Bracey appealed this case to the United
States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. (ECF No. 35.)
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not expressly recognize
motions for "reconsideration." Instead, Rule 59(e)
authorizes a district court to alter, amend, or vacate a
prior judgment, and Rule 60 provides for relief from
judgment. See Katyle v. Penn Nat'l Gaming,
Inc., 637 F.3d 462, 471 n.4 (4th Or. 2011),
cert, denied, 132 S.Ct. 115 (2011). As this Court
explained in Cross v. Fleet Reserve Ass'n Pension
Plan, WDQ-05-0001, 2010 WL 3609530, at *2 (D. Md. Sept.
A party may move to alter or amend a judgment under Rule
59(e), or for relief from a judgment under Rule 60(b).
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e) & 60(b). A motion to
alter or amend filed within 28 days of the judgment is
analyzed under Rule 59(e); if the motion is filed later, Rule
60(b) controls. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e); MLC
Auto., LLC v. Town of S. Pines, 532 F.3d 269, 280 (4th
Or. 2008); In re Burnley, 988 F.2d 1, 2-3 (4th Cir.
omitted). Although Bracey seeks relief pursuant to Rule
60(b), he notes that he has filed his Motion within
twenty-eight (28) days of this Court's Order granting
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. (ECF No. 33, at 1.)
Accordingly, Rule 59(e) governs this Court's analysis.
See, e.g., Knott v. Wedgwood, DKC-13-2486, 2014 WL
4660811, at *2 (D. Md. Sept. 11, 2014) ("Although
Plaintiff purports to bring his motion for reconsideration
under Rule 60(b)(1), because it was filed within twenty-eight
days of entry of the underlying order, it is properly
analyzed under Rule 59(e).")
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has
repeatedly recognized that a final judgment may be amended
under Rule 59(e) in only three circumstances: (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.
See, e.g., Gagliano v. Reliance Standard Life Ins.
Co.,547 F.3d 230, 241 n.8 (4th Or. 2008); see also
Fleming v. Maryland National Capital Park &
Vanning Commission, DKC-11-2769, 2012 WL 12877387,
at *1 - (D. Md. Mar. 8, 2012). A Rule 59(e) motion "may
not be used to relitigate old matters, or to raise arguments
or present evidence that could have been raised prior to
entry of judgment." Vac. Ins. Co. v. Am.
Nat'lFire Ins. Co.,148 F.3d 396, 403 (4th Cir.
1998); see also Kelly v. Simpson, ...