Williams v. State of Louisiana et al
MEMORANDUM RULING re 70 MOTION for Reconsideration re 68 Memorandum Ruling, 69 Judgment filed by Harris L Williams. Signed by Judge S Maurice Hicks on 8/30/2017. (crt,McDonnell, D)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
HARRIS L. WILLIAMS
CIVIL ACTION NO. 15-2353
JUDGE S. MAURICE HICKS, JR.
STATE OF LOUISIANA, ET AL.
MAGISTRATE JUDGE HORNSBY
Before the Court is a Motion to Reconsider Summary Judgment (Record Document
70) filed by Plaintiff Harris L. Williams (“Williams”). Pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure 59(e) and 60(b), Williams seeks reconsideration of this Court’s January 24,
2017 Memorandum Ruling and Judgment, wherein Williams’ racial discrimination claims
were dismissed in their entirety with prejudice. See Record Documents 68 & 69. Williams
argues that such dismissal was “in error and creates manifest injustice.” Record Document
70 at 2. Defendants oppose the Motion to Reconsider. See Record Document 72. For
the reasons set forth below, Williams’ Motion to Reconsider is DENIED.
At the time of this Court’s January 2017 ruling, Williams was employed as a welding
instructor at the Northwest Louisiana Technical College in Shreveport, Louisiana. He
alleged that Defendants1 failed to award him a twelve month contract because of his race.
He filed the instant lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 42 U.S.C. §1981 and Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §2000e, et seq. Defendants filed a Motion for Summary
Judgment (Record Document 28) seeking dismissal of Williams’ racial discrimination
claims in their entirety with prejudice. The Court granted such motion (Record Documents
The remaining Defendants included the State of Louisiana through its Louisiana
Community and Technical College System and Board of Regents; Charles Strong; Angie
Rymer; and Amber Saunders.
68 & 69) and Williams has now moved for reconsideration (Record Document 70).
LAW AND ANALYSIS.
Rule 59(e) and Rule 60(b) Standards.
Rule 59(e) provides that “a motion to alter or amend a judgment must be filed no
later than 28 days after the entry of the judgment.” F.R.C.P. 59(e). “Generally, a motion
to alter or amend a judgment, filed under Rule 59(e) may be granted: (1) to correct
manifest errors of law or fact upon which judgment is based; (2) the availability of new
evidence; (3) the need to prevent manifest injustice; or (4) an intervening change in
controlling law.” Hill v. Kervin, No. CIV A 08-272-P, 2009 WL 2254295, at *1 (W.D. La.
July 28, 2009). Altering or amending a judgment is considered “an extraordinary measure,
which courts should use sparingly.” In the Matter of Self, 172 F.Supp.2d 813, 816
(W.D.La.2001). “Rule 59(e) is not a second bite at the summary judgment apple.” Factor
King, LLC v. Block Builders, LLC, 192 F.Supp.3d 690, 696 (M.D. La. 2016).
Rule 60(b) provides that “the court may relieve a party or its legal representative
from a final judgment, order, or proceeding for the following reasons: (1) mistake,
inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect; (2) newly discovered evidence that, with
reasonable diligence, could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under
Rule 59(b); (3) fraud (whether previously called intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation,
or misconduct by an opposing party; (4) the judgment is void; (5) the judgment has been
satisfied, released or discharged; it is based on an earlier judgment that has been reversed
or vacated; or applying it prospectively is no longer equitable; or (6) any other reason that
justifies relief.” F.R.C.P. 60(b). “Relief under Rule 60(b) is considered an extraordinary
remedy,” as the “desire for a judicial process that is predictable mandates caution in
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reopening judgments.” Carter v. Fenner, 136 F.3d 1000, 1007 (5th Cir.1998) (citation
Statute of Limitations.
Williams argues that this Court erred in concluding that a one year limitations period
applied to his Section 1981 claim because “each contract after the initial formation was
simply a renewal and not a new contract.” Record Document 70-1 at 11. He also
contends that the continuous violation theory applies, such that his claims are not
prescribed. See id. at 14.
In its original ruling, this Court framed its analysis around Williams’ concession that
his claims arise solely from Defendants’ failure to afford him a twelve-month contract. See
Record Document 34. In briefing relating to the defense motion for summary judgment,
Williams stated that “he experienced an adverse employment action by being denied a 12
month contract.” Record Document 34 at 19. In a supplemental filing, he stated:
Plaintiff makes no comparison of total dollar value paid annually. Plaintiff
makes comparison between awards of 12 month and 9 month contracts.
That is what is critical.
Record Document 38 at 4. This Court held that all of Williams’ claims and allegations were
merely incidental to the award of – or the failure to award – a twelve-month contract. See
Record Document 68 at 10.
Nothing presented in Williams’ motion or reply convinces this Court that
reconsideration as to its statute of limitations ruling is warranted. Williams’ case is based
on his allegation that he was wrongfully denied a new contract changing his status from a
nine-month employee to a twelve-month employee.
Section 1981 protects against
discrimination in the making and enforcement of contracts. Under Section 1981, where the
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claim is based upon conduct at the initial formation of the contract, a one-year prescriptive
period applies. See Culbert v. Cleco Corp., 926 F.Supp.2d. 886, 891 (W.D. La. 2013), aff’d,
538 Fed. Appx. 504 (5th Cir. 2013), citing Patterson v. McLean Credit Union, 491 U.S. 164,
179, 109 S.Ct. 2363, 2374 (1989). Likewise, Williams’ allegations relating to Defendants’
refusal to award him a new twelve-month contract are discrete acts and the continuous
violation theory is inapplicable. See Nat’l R.R. Passenger Corp. v. Morgan, 536 U.S. 101,
113, 122 S.Ct. 2061, 2072 (2002).
Thus, Williams has not presented evidence or
argument to justify the extraordinary measure of reconsideration.
Mitigation of Damages.
Williams contends that this Court erred and created manifest injustice by ruling that
he should have taken the Mansfield, Louisiana twelve-month welding contract job. See
Record Document 70-1 at 16-17. The availability of the Mansfield position was noted by
the Court in the background section of its ruling. See Record Document 68 at 2-3.
Otherwise, the availability of the Mansfield position did not factor into this Court’s analysis
and/or decision. Reconsideration on this basis is, therefore, not warranted.
Williams seeks reconsideration of this Court’s ruling that he did not provide
adequate information about comparators. See Record Document 70-1 at 17. Williams
asks this Court to accept that the job responsibilities of a welding instructor are the same
as those of an instructor outside of the welding department. See id. at 17-20; Record
Document 73 at 5.
As noted in this Court’s previous ruling, Williams must show that white employees
were treated differently under circumstances “nearly identical” to his. Mayberry v. Vought
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Aircraft Co., 55 F.3d 1086, 1090 (5th Cir. 1995); see also Little v. Republic Ref. Co., 924
F.2d 93, 97 (5th Cir.1991); Smith v. Wal-Mart Stores, 891 F.2d 1177, 1180 (5th Cir.1990);
Davin v. Delta Air Lines, Inc., 678 F.2d 567, 570-571 (5th Cir. Unit B 1982). A review of
the instant motion and Williams’ reply does not reveal an adequate basis to reconsider this
Court’s ruling that Williams did not meet his burden of showing that others similarly situated
and outside the protected class were treated more favorably. Williams rehashes the same
arguments that were squarely rejected by this Court in its January 2017 ruling. See
LeClerc v. Webb, 419 F.3d 405, 412 n.13 (5th Cir. 2005) (“A motion for reconsideration
may not be used to rehash rejected arguments or introduce new arguments.”). Williams
is free to raise these issues on appeal, but a motion to reconsider “is not a second bite at
the summary judgment apple.” Factor King, 192 F.Supp.3d at 696.
Based on the foregoing analysis, Williams has not shown a basis under Rule 59(e)
or Rule 60(b) for reconsideration of this Court’s January 24, 2017 ruling dismissing all of
his racial discrimination claims. Thus, his Motion to Reconsider Summary Judgment
(Record Document 70) is hereby DENIED.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
THUS DONE AND SIGNED, in Shreveport, Louisiana, this 30th day of August,
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