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Rann v. Chao

May 6, 2002

ROBERT RANN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ELAINE CHAO, SECRETARY, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, DEFENDANT.



Document No. 75

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION DENYING THE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO ALTER OR AMEND THE JUDGMENT

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before the court on the plaintiff's motion to alter or amend the court's August 20, 2001 Memorandum Opinion ("Memorandum Opinion") granting the defendant's motion to dismiss. *fn1 Rann v. Chao, 154 F. Supp. 2d 61 (D.D.C. 2001). Robert Rann ("the plaintiff" or "Mr. Rann") brings this suit for damages under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., claiming that his employer, the U.S. Department of Labor ("the DOL"), discriminated against him on the basis of his age. Specifically, the plaintiff alleges that his employer denied him a promotion because of his age and gave the promotion instead to a 38-year-old employee. Compl. ¶ 22. The defendant, Elaine Chao, is the Secretary of Labor ("the defendant"), named in her official capacity.

On September 4, 2001, the plaintiff filed a motion to alter or amend the judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e). For the reasons that follow, the court holds that the plaintiff has not raised any grounds that would justify granting his motion and thus denies the plaintiff's motion to alter or amend the judgment.

II. BACKGROUND

As a GS-13 Manpower Analyst in the DOL's Employment and Training Administration, Mr. Rann has worked for the DOL since 1970. Compl. ¶ 5. In November 1997, the DOL advertised a GS-14 Manpower Analyst position, and Mr. Rann submitted an application. Id. ¶¶ 15-16. He interviewed for the position and the DOL subsequently notified him that it had not selected him in a letter Mr. Rann received on March 16, 1998. Compl. ¶¶ 20-21, 27; Mot. for Summ. J. at 2. At the time, Mr. Rann was 64 years old. *fn2 Compl. ¶ 5. The selectee was 38 years old. Id. ¶ 22.

Believing that he was the best qualified applicant interviewed for the GS-14 position, Mr. Rann wrote to the selecting official, Stephen Wandner, and asked for an explanation as to why he had not been selected. Compl. ¶ 23. Mr. Wandner responded that Mr. Rann had not interviewed as well as the selectee. Id. Mr. Rann filed an informal complaint of age discrimination with the DOL's Civil Rights Center on April 23, 1998. Mot. for Summ. J. at 3. He was assigned an EEO counselor in May 1998 and participated in an informal mediation process. Compl. ¶ 25. Because this informal counseling and mediation failed to resolve his situation, Mr. Rann filed a formal complaint of age discrimination in September 1998. Id. ¶ 26.

The DOL's Civil Rights Center accepted this formal complaint for investigation in October 1998. Over the next six months, the EEO office sent Mr. Rann multiple requests for an affidavit, which is an initial step in the formal investigation. Mr. Rann never provided the EEO investigator with this information. Mot. for Summ. J. at 4-6; Pl.'s Opp'n at 10-12. On June 7, 1999, the DOL's Civil Rights Office dismissed Mr. Rann's complaint for failure to prosecute. Pl.'s Opp'n at 12. Three months later, Mr. Rann filed a complaint in this court.

In January 2000, the defendant moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the plaintiff had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. This court denied that motion, allowing the plaintiff to seek relevant discovery in response to the defendant's non-cooperation allegation. Dkt. No. 99cv2349, Mem. Op. dated July 26, 2000. On August 20, 2001, the court granted the defendant's motion to dismiss, concluding that because the plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies, the court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over the case pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1). Rann, 154 F. Supp. 2d at 65-66.

On September 4, 2001, the plaintiff filed a motion to alter or amend the judgment, arguing that the parties never addressed the statute-of-limitations issue in their pleadings and that the court erred in its analysis. Pl.'s Mot. for Recons. at 1. In addition, the plaintiff argues that under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's ("the EEOC" or "the Commission") own rules and regulations, the EEOC lacks the jurisdiction to dismiss claims for failure to prosecute. Id. Therefore, the plaintiff contends that because the court must follow the EEOC's interpretations of its own regulations, the court does have jurisdiction to hear the case. Id.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Legal Standard for Amendment of Judgment Pursuant to Rule 59(e)

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) motions to alter or amend a judgment must be filed within 10 days of the entry of the judgment at issue. *fn3 FED. R. CIV. P. 59(e); W.C. & A.N. Miller Cos. v. United States, 173 F.R.D. 1, 3 (D.D.C. 1997) (citing Derrington-Bey, 39 F.3d at 1226). While the court has considerable discretion in ruling on a Rule 59(e) motion, the reconsideration and amendment of a previous order is an extraordinary measure. Firestone v. Firestone, 76 F.3d 1205, 1208 (D.C. Cir. 1996) (per curiam) (internal citations omitted). Rule 59(e) motions "need not be granted unless the district court finds that there is an 'intervening change of controlling law, the availability of new evidence, or the need to correct a clear error or prevent manifest injustice.'" Id. Finally, "[a] Rule 59(e) motion to reconsider is not simply an opportunity to reargue facts and theories upon which ...


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