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Cleland v. Academy Sports and Outdoors

United States District Court, Fifth Circuit

October 24, 2013



KEITH STARRETT, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on the Plaintiff Eddie Cleland's Motion for Relief from Judgment, which was docketed as a "Motion for Reconsideration" [25]. Having considered the submissions of the parties, the record and the applicable law, the Court finds that the motion is not well taken and should be denied.


On August 26, 2013, the Court entered its Memorandum Opinion and Order [23], ruling on the Motion to Dismiss [6] of the Defendant Academy Sports and Outdoors ("Academy") and the Motion for Leave to File Second Amended Complaint ("Motion for Leave") [17] of the Plaintiff Eddie Cleland. Academy sought the dismissal of all of the claims asserted against it in the Amended Complaint [6-1] pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Cleland sought leave to file a Second Amended Complaint [17-1] "to add factual support for the pretextual reprimands made by [Louis] Tenney to cause Academy to terminate Cleland." (Pl.'s Mot. for Leave [17] at ¶ 3.) Louis Tenney was Cleland's immediate supervisor prior to the termination of his employment. Tenney was dismissed from this action without prejudice on May 9, 2013. ( See Op. & Order Denying Mot. to Remand [16].) The Court granted Academy's Motion to Dismiss [6] and denied Cleland's Motion for Leave [17]. Further, final judgment was entered given the dismissal of Cleland's claims. (S ee Final Judgment [24].) Cleland now contends that the Court erred in certain respects, and requests that the "Court reconsider its Order...." (Pl.'s Mot. for Recon. [25] at p. 10.)[1]


A. Standard of Review

Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration [25] was filed ten (10) days after the entry of judgment and requests that the Court reconsider its prior ruling. Thus, regardless of the motion's title, it will be construed as a motion to alter or amend a judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e). See Demahy v. Schwarz Pharma, Inc., 702 F.3d 177, 182 n.2 (5th Cir. 2012) (providing that Rule 59(e) governs a motion seeking reconsideration of a ruling when the motion is filed within twenty-eight days of judgment), cert. denied, 2013 WL 868621 (Oct. 7, 2013); Marlow LLC v. BellSouth Telecomms., Inc., No. 2:10cv135, 2013 WL 1313093, at *1 (S.D.Miss. Mar. 26, 2013) (Although the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not explicitly recognize a motion for reconsideration, "this Court and others consider such motions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e)... when they are filed within the time period specified under this Rule.") (citations omitted).

The Court only recognizes three grounds for reconsideration under Rule 59(e): "(1) an intervening change in controlling law, (2) the availability of new evidence not previously available, and (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or prevent a manifest injustice.'" Nationwide Mut. Fire Ins. Co. v. Pham, 193 F.R.D. 493, 494 (S.D.Miss. 2000) (quoting Atkins v. Marathon LeTourneau Co., 130 F.R.D. 625, 626 (S.D.Miss. 1990)); see also Demahy, 702 F.3d at 182. Cleland's motion is limited to the third ground of the above-quoted standard. With respect to this ground, a litigant should carefully consider "whether what may seem to be a clear error of law is in fact simply a point of disagreement between the Court and the litigant." Atkins, 130 F.R.D. at 626.

"Reconsideration of a judgment after its entry is an extraordinary remedy that should be used sparingly." Templet v. HydroChem Inc., 367 F.3d 473, 479 (5th Cir. 2004) (citing Clancy v. Employers Health Ins. Co., 101 F.Supp.2d 463, 465 (E.D. La. 2000)). In addition, a Rule 59(e) motion should not be used to rehash evidence or to raise arguments or legal theories that could have been presented prior to the entry of judgment. See id. at 478-79. "Whatever may be the purpose of Rule 59(e), it should not be supposed that it is intended to give an unhappy litigant one additional chance to sway the judge." Pham, 193 F.R.D. at 494.

B. Analysis

Cleland contends that the Court's judgment is in error because: (a) Cleland should be allowed to amend his Complaint to join Louis Tenney for maliciously interfering with Cleland's employment relationship with Academy; (b) Tenney's request for Cleland to commit forgery was illegal, and thus, the public policy exception to the employment-at-will doctrine stated in McArn v. Allied Bruce-Terminix Co., 626 So.2d 603 (Miss. 1993) applies;[2] and (c) the Court should declare a public policy exception to the employment-at-will doctrine based on interference with political rights by predicting the Mississippi Supreme Court's ruling on the issue pursuant to Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64, 58 S.Ct. 817, 82 L.Ed. 1188 (1938). Each of these contentions will be addressed through the prism of Rule 59(e).

1. Whether the Court Clearly Erred in Refusing to Allow Cleland to File an Amended Complaint Joining Tenney to the Litigation

The Court refused to allow Cleland to amend his Complaint to join Tenney for two reasons. First, Cleland failed to identify and brief the appropriate standard for leave to amend since he and Tenney are both citizens of Mississippi. The Court explained:

Bringing Tenney back into the lawsuit would thus result in incomplete diversity of citizenship between the parties and deprive the Court of jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Title 28 U.S.C. § 1447(e), as opposed to Rule 15, governs a district court's consideration of a request for joinder of a non-diverse defendant. See White v. City Fin. Co., 277 F.Supp.2d 646, 650 n.7 (S.D.Miss. 2003). "The district court must scrutinize an amendment [to a pleading] that would add a non-diverse party more closely than an ordinary ...

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