Tyler v. Amtrak
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Peter J. Messitte on 10/24/2016. (c/m chambers)(jnls, Deputy Clerk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
JAMES TYLER, pro se
Civil No. PJM 15-1666
Pro se plaintiff James Tyler sued Amtrak for violations of the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act (“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. § 621, et seq. The Court granted Amtrak’s Motion to the
Dismiss the suit for failure to prosecute on February 10, 2016. More than seven months later,
Tyler has filed a Motion asking the Court to reopen the case. For the reasons that follow, the
Court DENIES Tyler’s Motion.
On June 9, 2015, Tyler filed the two-page complaint in this suit, consisting of only the
barest of barebones allegations that Amtrak violated the ADEA, 29 U.S.C. § 621, et seq. ECF
No. 1. Amtrak filed an Answer on July 30, 2015, ECF No. 6, to which Tyler filed a response on
August 12, 2015. ECF No. 11.
On August 13, 2015, Amtrak responded to the Court’s
Scheduling Order, noting that it had been unable to reach Tyler to discuss the Scheduling Order
as well as possible settlement negotiations because his listed phone number was incorrect. ECF
No. 10. The following day, August 14, 2015, Tyler filed a Motion to Appoint Counsel, ECF No.
14, in response to which the Court issued a Memorandum Order, instructing Tyler to file
additional financial information, and to send a copy of the findings of the state or local fair
employment practices agency that investigated his case. ECF No. 13.
Tyler never responded to the Court’s Memorandum Order. According to Amtrak, he was
also unresponsive to written discovery requests and did not appear for his noticed deposition.
ECF No. 14. Amtrak was also unable to serve Tyler or contact him by phone because Tyler did
not keep his contact information up-to-date with the Court. Id.
On February 10, 2016, the Court granted Amtrak’s Motion to Dismiss pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b) because of Tyler’s failure to prosecute his suit. ECF No.
17. The Court found Tyler entirely responsible for the delay. His failure to prosecute
unquestionably caused Amtrak significant prejudice. For all intents and purposes, Tyler appeared
to have abandoned his case.
On September 2, 2016, after more than seven months, Tyler filed a Motion to Reopen the
Case and Notice of Change of Address. His Motion stated only that the “Plaintiff had some
health problems and regret [sic] the delay in his discrimination complaint. Plaintiff move [sic] to
reopen his employment discrimination case.” ECF No. 22. Amtrak filed its Opposition on
September 16. ECF No. 23. Tyler did not reply.
The Court construes Tyler’s Motion to Reopen the Case as a Motion for Relief from a
Final Judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P 60 (b)(6), which provides that “on motion and just
terms, the court may relieve a party or its legal representative from a final judgment order, or
proceeding for . . . any other reason that justifies relief.”
Though the language of Fed. R. Civ. P 60 (b)(6) is facially broad, “its context requires
that it may be invoked in only extraordinary circumstances.” Aikens v. Ingram, 652 F.3d 496,
500 (4th Cir. 2011). Imposing a narrow reading on Rule 60(b)(6) is “essential if the finality of
judgments is to be preserved.” Id. (quoting Liljeberg v. Health Servs. Acquisition Corp, 486 U.S.
847, 873 (1988)(Rehnquist, C.J., dissenting)). The Fourth Circuit thus requires that a motion
under Rule 60(b)(6) “be filed on ‘just terms’ and within ‘a reasonable time’—that the party filing
the motion have a meritorious claim or defense and that the opposing party not be unfairly
prejudiced by having the judgment set aside.” Id. at 501. A party is barred from asserting an
argument that could have been raised in an appeal. Id.
Here Tyler has met none of these conditions. The motion was filed more than seven
months after the Court’s decision dismissing his case and more than a year since Tyler had last
participated in this litigation. Nor does Tyler’s claim in his Complaint appear to be plausible,
much less meritorious. His allegation that he applied for two jobs at Amtrak and was not
thereafter contacted does not suffice to plead a claim of employment discrimination. Finally, the
Court finds that Amtrak, which attempted to engage with Tyler for several months, would be
unfairly prejudiced by having the judgment set aside.
For these reasons, Tyler’s Motion to Reopen the Case, ECF No. 22, is DENIED.
A separate Order will ISSUE.
PETER J. MESSITTE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
October 24, 2016
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