United States Of America v. Commonwealth Of Pennsylvania et al
MEMORANDUM re dfts' MOTION for Reconsideration 132 (Order to follow as separate docket entry)Signed by Honorable Sylvia H. Rambo on 3/8/18. (ma)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE, :
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Civil No. 1:14-cv-1474
Judge Sylvia H. Rambo
Presently before the court is Defendants’ Motion for Reconsideration (Doc.
132) of this court’s October 2, 2017 memorandum and order (Docs. 129 & 130), in
which the court granted Plaintiff’s motion for partial summary judgment. For the
reasons stated below, the court will deny Defendants’ motion.
A motion for reconsideration may be filed under Local Rule 7.10 within
fourteen days after the entry of the order concerned. L.R. 7.10. The Third Circuit
has held that such a motion may be granted if the party seeking reconsideration
establishes at least one of the following grounds: “(1) an intervening change in
controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence that was not available when
the court granted the motion for summary judgment; or (3) the need to correct a
clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice.” Max’s Seafood Café, by
Lou-Ann, Inc., v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999).
dissatisfaction with the court’s ruling is not a proper basis for reconsideration.
Progressive Cas. Ins. Co. v. PNC Bank, N.A., 73 F. Supp. 2d 485, 487 (E.D. Pa.
1999). A motion for reconsideration is not to be used as a vehicle for the losing
party to rehash legal arguments previously considered and rejected. Dougherty v.
Farmers New Century Ins. Co., Civ. No. 06-cv-0098, 2007 WL 1074756, * 2
(M.D. Pa. Apr. 9, 2007); Qazizadeh v. Pinnacle Health Sys., 14-cv-2037, 2016 WL
5787352, *2 (M.D. Pa. Oct. 4, 2016). In addition, “[a] party’s failure to present
[its] strongest case in the first instance does not entitle [it] to a second chance in
the form of a motion [for reconsideration].” Id. (citations omitted). Therefore, such
motions are not appropriate if the movant only intends that the court hear new
arguments or supporting facts. Id. (citing Van Skiver v. United States, 952 F.2d
1241, 1243 (10th Cir. 1991)). The reconsideration of a judgment is an
extraordinary remedy, and such motions should be granted sparingly. D’Angio v.
Borough of Nescopeck, 56 F. Supp. 2d 502, 504 (M.D. Pa. 1999).
The facts and procedural history of this case are well known to the parties
and are described in detail in the court’s October 2, 2017 memorandum and order.
(Docs. 129 & 130). As such, the court need not recite them here.
In the instant motion for reconsideration, Defendants Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania State Police (collectively, “Defendants”) argue
that the court’s October 2, 2017 memorandum and order should be reconsidered on
four grounds. (Doc. 137.) The court will address each in turn.
The court erred in applying the summary judgment standard
According to Defendants, the court erred in three areas of summary
judgment law in granting Plaintiff’s motion. (Doc. 137, pp. 6-10 of 24.) First, the
court purportedly did not apply the proper summary judgment standard to the party
that had the burden of proof. (Id. at 6 of 24.) Second, Defendants argue that they
are entitled to have all favorable inferences and doubts resolved in their favor,
which the court failed to do. (Id. at 7-8 of 24.) Lastly, Defendants insist that the
court improperly weighed the evidence.1 (Id. at 8-10 of 24.)
The court is well aware of the legal standard for summary judgment
motions, including when a cross-motion is filed by a plaintiff, and at all times
followed that standard in its opinion. See, e.g., Jarzyna v. Home Props., L.P., 114
F. Supp. 3d 243, 252 (E.D. Pa. 2015) (specifically noting that the “guidelines
governing summary judgment are identical when addressing cross-motions for
summary judgment”). Although the court ultimately concluded that no genuine
issue of material fact exists as to prong one of Title VII’s burden shifting test, the
court carefully weighed the evidence in a light most favorable to Defendants. Upon
While Defendants further claim that their experts presented genuine disputes of material facts
that precluded summary judgment in Plaintiff’s favor (id. at 6-7 of 24), they also present this
argument as an independent ground for reconsideration, and thus the court will address it as
such. See infra Section II.B.
review of its opinion, the court finds no clear error of law or fact in its application
of the summary judgment standard.
The court erred in failing to recognize genuine issues of material
Next, Defendants argue that the expert reports of Dr. Fairley, Dr. PalmerMorrel-Samuels, and Dr. Stone created “at least twelve genuine disputes of
material fact regarding Dr. Madden’s methods and calculations,” and that the court
erroneously placed a burden of persuasion regarding statistical evidence on
Defendants. (Doc. 137, p. 10 of 24.) In this regard, Defendants devote much of
their attention to rehashing their experts’ opinions that Dr. Madden’s report is
fundamentally flawed and that the very existence of such criticism “per se” creates
an issue of material fact.
A factual dispute is “material” if it might affect the outcome of the suit
under the applicable substantive law, and “genuine” only if there is a sufficient
evidentiary basis that would allow a reasonable fact-finder to return a verdict for
the non-moving party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). The points Defendants rehash are neither material nor genuine to the
ultimate question the court decided – whether Plaintiff established a prima facie
case of disparate impact discrimination under prong one of Title VII’s three-prong
burden shifting test. There is no actual dispute regarding the critical fact in this
prong one analysis that women pass the 2003 PRT and 2009 PRT at statistically
significantly lower rates than men. (See Doc. 129, pp. 25-30.) Indeed, two of
Defendants’ own experts, Dr. Brice Stone and Dr. William Fairley, found that
women’s pass rates for both the 2003 PRT and the 2009 PRT are statistically
significantly lower than those of men.
While Defendants attempt to muddy the waters by arguing that the “only
burden the Commonwealth ever has in this case is one of production, not
persuasion,” citing Watson v. Fort Worth Bank & Trust, 487 U.S. 877 (1988) (Doc.
137, p. 11 of 24), Defendants’ reliance on Watson for this proposition is misguided
as the Civil Rights Act of 1991 abrogates this portion of Watson and shifts the
burdens of production and persuasion on a defendant in prong two to show a
business necessity for the practice that causes a disparate impact.2 See Phillips v.
Cohen, 400 F.3d 388, 397-98 (6th Cir. 2005) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(k)(1)(A))
(explaining the portion of Watson that was abrogated). As for prong one, the court
never placed the burden of proof on Defendants during its analysis, but, as in any
case, once Plaintiff provided sufficient evidence to meet its prima facie burden, it
was necessary for Defendants to show why that evidence was insufficient. See
Nat’l State Bank v. Fed. Reserve Bank of N.Y., 979 F.2d 1579, 1581 (3d Cir. 1992).
Defendants failed to do so. Instead, despite emphasizing the varying
methodologies, differing expert opinions, or allegedly incorrect assumptions,
The burden shifts to the defendant only once the plaintiff proves a prima facie case.
Defendants’ own experts, using their own methods and assumptions, found
statistical significance. In sum, Defendants have presented no new evidence or
analysis that requires the court to reconsider its decision in this regard.
The court erred in finding causation
Much like other arguments presented in their motion, Defendants offer
conclusory statements without any legitimate analysis averring that Plaintiff did
not meet its burden of showing causation. (See Doc. 137, pp. 15-16 of 24.)
Defendants continue to conflate the causation standards for disparate impact
discrimination and disparate treatment discrimination by relying on disparate
treatment case law. Causation under a theory of disparate impact is proven by
statistical evidence, which courts within the Third Circuit typically measure in
terms of probability levels and units of standard deviation. Stagi v. Nat’l R.R.
Passenger Corp., 391 F. App’x 133, 137, 140 (3d Cir. 2010). As addressed at
length in its memorandum granting partial summary judgment, Plaintiff provided
sufficient evidence of causation by showing that the difference in pass rates
between men and women is statistically significant in terms of both probability
levels and units of standard deviation. (Doc. 129, pp. 19-30.)
The court erred in considering Dr. Madden’s expert report
Defendants’ final argument is that Plaintiff’s expert report is inadmissibly
inconsistent with the facts of Plaintiff’s case. Once again, Defendants are
attempting to get a second bite of the apple by rearguing their summary judgment
position that Dr. Madden’s opinion is inconsistent with another of Plaintiff’s
experts, Dr. McArdle, who does not present any opinion relating to the prong one
analysis. Additionally, there is a glimmer of a Daubert challenge laced within
Defendants’ repeated assertions that the court made a clear error of law. The court
will not disturb its ruling based on repeated arguments and a whiff of a Daubert
challenge that should have been presented earlier in this litigation.
A motion for reconsideration may not be used as means to argue
unsuccessful theories, as Defendants did here. See Banks v. Dove, 06-cv-2286,
2007 WL 1704659, *1 (M.D. Pa. June 12, 2007) (citing Drysdale v. Woerth, 153 F.
Supp. 2d 678, 682 (E.D. Pa. 2001)). It is evident that Defendants are dissatisfied
with the court’s ruling, but dissatisfaction is not an appropriate reason to utilize the
court’s time and resources with a motion rehashing previously raised arguments.
Because Defendants have not showed an intervening change in controlling law,
new evidence, or the need to correct a clear error of law or fact, or to prevent
manifest injustice, the court will deny Defendants’ motion for reconsideration.
An appropriate order will issue.
SYLVIA H. RAMBO
United States District Judge
Dated: March 8, 2018
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