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CLAY v. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

United States District Court for the District of Columbia


June 6, 2005.

JESSE CLAY, Plaintiff,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA and ANGEL CARTAGENA, Defendants.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: SUZANNE CONLON, District Judge

ORDER

Jesse Clay sued the District of Columbia and Angel Cartagena, Chairman of the District of Columbia's Public Services Commission, for wrongful discharge, promissory estoppel, breach of good faith and fair dealing, negligent representation and violation of his constitutional rights. On March 18, 2005, the court granted defendants' summary judgment motion on all counts. Clay moves for reconsideration on his wrongful discharge claim.

Clay's motion was filed within 10 days of entry of the court's summary judgment opinion. Typically, a motion for reconsideration is treated as a Rule 59(e) motion if filed within 10 days of entry of the challenged order. See Lightfoot v. District of Columbia, 355 F. Supp. 2d 414, 420-21 (D.D.C. 2005). Clay fashions his motion as one for reconsideration under Rule 60(b)(6). The standards governing a motion for reconsideration under Rule 60(b) are more restrictive than those governing Rule 59(c), and courts only reconsider under Rule 60(b)(6) in exceptional circumstances. See Lightfoot, 355 F. Supp. 2d at 420; Moore v. Hartman, 332 F. Supp. 2d 252, 256 (D.D.C. 2004). Even applying the more lenient standards of Rule 59(e), Clay's motion must be denied. Motions to reconsider "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 clear error or manifest injustice." Lightfoot, 355 F. Supp. 2d at 420, quoting Anyanwutaku v. Moore, 151 F.3d 1053, 1057 (D.C. Cir. 1998). A motion to reconsider is not an opportunity to reargue facts and theories upon which the court has already ruled, or a vehicle for presenting theories or arguments that could have been advanced earlier. See id., see also Cooper v. Dep't of Justice, No. 99-2513, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4898, *6 (D.D.C. Mar. 22, 2005). The motion will not be granted if the "court suspects the losing party is using the motion as an instrumentality for arguing the same theory or asserting new arguments that could have been raised prior to final judgment." Lightfoot, 355 F. Supp. 2d at 421.

  Clay does not argue an intervening change of controlling law or the availability of new evidence. Rather, he argues the court incorrectly concluded he failed to state a viable wrongful discharge claim under the public policy exception to the at-will doctrine, and that the court erred in assessing relevant decisions to arrive at its conclusion. Clay's arguments are rejected. A motion to reconsider is not an opportunity to reargue theories upon which the court has already ruled. Clay rehashes arguments regarding Adams v. George W. Cochran & Co., 597 A.2d 28, 30 (D.C. 1991) and its progeny — cases that were fully briefed by all parties and analyzed at length by the court. See Mar. 18, 2005 Order at 4-9. His arguments regarding the relevant cases were either previously raised or could have been raised in his response brief.

  Further, several of Clay's arguments are irrelevant. For example, Clay argues he was terminated for "consistently objecting" to violating a municipal regulation. Yet he ignores the fact that he ultimately undocketed the letter at issue — the act he contends violated law — and that he was not directly ordered to violate the law. See Mar. 18, 2005 Order at 8; see also Mandsager v. Jaquith, 706 A.2d 39, 42 (D.C. 1998) ("before an employee may obtain relief . . . it must be shown that there was an `outright refusal to violate a specific law, with the employer putting the employee to the choice of breaking the law or losing [his] job.'"), quoting Thigpen v. Greepeace, 657 A.2d 770, 771 (D.C. 1995). Further, Clay reargues that the reason given for his termination was pretextual. However, the court viewed the facts in Clay's favor and held that he failed to state a claim even "assuming he was terminated for the docketing issue." See Mar. 18, 2005 Order at 8.

  Finally, Clay argues that his Rule 56(f) affidavit justified additional time to conduct discovery. The court has already ruled on this issue. As before, Clay fails to establish additional discovery would create an issue of fact, given that summary judgment was based almost exclusively on Clay's deposition testimony. Clay fails to present a need to correct clear error or manifest injustice.

  For the foregoing reasons, the motion for reconsideration is denied.

20050606

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