MARQUIS v. FARM SERVICE AGENCY et al
OPINION filed. Signed by Judge Anne E. Thompson on 4/25/2017. (km)
APR 2 5 2017
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
Civ. No. 14-6715
FARM SERVICE AGENCY, UNITED
STATES DEPARTMENT OF
AGRICULTURE, THOMAS ORGO,
CYNTHIA FOISTER, and PAUL HLUBIK.,
This matter has come before the Court on the motion for reconsideration brought by
Defendants Farm Service Agency ("FSA"), United States Department of Agriculture ("USDA"),
Thomas Orgo ("Defendant Orgo"), Cynthia Foister ("Defendant Foister"), and Paul Hlubik
("Defendant Hlubik") (collectively "Defendants"). (ECF No. 24). The motion is unopposed.
The Court has decided the motion based on the written submissions and without oral argument
pursuant to Local Civil Rule 78.l(b). For the reasons stated herein, Defendants' motion will be
The Complaint of Plaintiff Lorrie Marquis ("Plaintiff'') asserts state-law claims for
breach of contract and fraud against the Defendants. Plaintiff makes the following allegations in
her Complaint. Plaintiff is a former employee of the FSA. (Compl. ~ 5, ECF No. 1). Plaintiff
alleges that Defendant Orgo, a co-worker, sexually harassed her and that she reported the sexual
harassment to her superior, Defendant Foister. (Id. mf 12, 13). Defendant Foister conducted an
investigation and issued a report that resulted in a finding that Plaintiffs claim of sexual
harassment was not substantiated. (Id.,, 13, 14). That investigation and subsequent report were
biased, incomplete, and procured as a result of fraud because Defendant Orgo misrepresented the
facts, Defendant Foister purposefully and knowingly failed to properly investigate Plaintiffs
claims and Defendant Hlubik conspired with Foister to ensure that the sexual assault
investigation and subsequent report exonerated Orgo. (Id. ,, 14-17). Plaintiff was subjected to
retaliation in the form of an unwarranted written reprimand and unfavorable temporary work
assignment. (Id. ,, 19-21 ). As a result of this fraud perpetrated by Defendants, Plaintiff left the
employ of the FSA.
The Court previously granted Defendants' motion to dismiss and dismissed Count I of
the Complaint with prejudice, dismissed Count II of the Complaint without prejudice and
provided Plaintiff fifteen days to amend the Complaint with respect to Count II. Defendants seek
reconsideration of that decision.
In the District of New Jersey, Local Civil Rule 7.l(i) governs motions for
reconsideration. A timely motion for reconsideration may only be granted upon a finding of at
least one of the following grounds: "(l) an intervening change in the controlling law has
occurred; (2) evidence not previously available has become available; or (3) it is necessary to
correct a clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice." Database America, Inc. v. Bellsouth
Advertising & Pub. Corp., 825 F. Supp. 1216, 1220 (D.N.J. 1993). Reconsideration is an
"extraordinary remedy'' that is rarely granted. Brackett v. Ashcroft, No. 03-3988, 2003 WL
22303078, at *2 (D.N.J. Oct. 7, 2003) (internal citations omitted). "A party seeking
reconsideration must show more than a disagreement with the Court's decision, and
'recapitulation of the cases and arguments considered by the court before rendering its original
decision fails to carry the moving party's burden."' G-69 v. Degn,an, 148 F. Supp. 274, 275
(D.N.J. 1990) (citation omitted).
When the court considers the merits rather than solely the procedural propriety of a
reconsideration motion, the motion for reconsideration has been granted. In re Telfair, 145 F.
Supp. 2d 536, 538 n.1 (D.N.J. 2010). However, reconsideration does not guarantee a different or
even a better result. Rojas v. City ofNew Brunswick, 2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26303, 7-10
(D.N.J. Apr. 9, 2007).
Defendants argue that the Court made an error of fact and law when it found that
''plaintiff's complaint does not invoke Title VII or include any allegation of workplace
discrimination based on one of the enumerated grounds-race, color, religion, sex, or national
origin." (Ders. Mot. at 2, ECF No. 24). Defendants cite Meritor Sav. Bank, FSB v. Vinson, 411
U.S. 57 (1986), and argue that the allegations contained in Plaintiff's Complaint are actionable
under Title VII as a claim for sex discrimination. Defendants made a similar argument in their
original motion, and therefore the Court will reconsider this argument.
The Court is persuaded that reconsideration is necessary to correct a clear error. The
Court finds that the allegations contained in Plaintiff's Complaint embraced discrimination on
the basis of sex, and the Court corrects its February 2, 2017 opinion (ECF No. 22) to the extent
that it held otherwise.
Next, however, the Court must consider whether Title VII preempts Plaintiff's claims.
Title VII provides the exclusive remedy for federal employees alleging discrimination in the
workplace. Brown v. Gen. Servs. Admin., 425 U.S. 820, 832-835 (1976); see also McGuire v.
Potter, 2006 WL 2883234, at *5 (D.N.J. Oct. 6, 2006). Plaintiff alleges in her Complaint that
she was an employee of the FSA. In their motion to dismiss, Defendants claimed that Plaintiff
was not a "federal employee" as the term is defined by 5 U.S.C. § 2105, but that such individuals
generally are treated as federal employees for civil rights and FTCA actions. However, the cases
cited by Defendants to support their argument differ from the case at hand. In the cited cases, the
courts faced different statutes, procedural postures, or more developed factual records. In·this
case, however, the Court is not able to make a determination on the current record as to whether
Plaintiff was a federal employee and whether her claims are preempted by Title VII.
In view of the above, with no opposition being advanced by Plaintiff, Defendants' motion
for reconsideration will be granted. An appropriate order will follow.
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