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Robinson-Reeder v. American Council on Education

February 22, 2010

JACQUELINE T. ROBINSON-REEDER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
AMERICAN COUNCIL ON EDUCATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John D. Bates United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION and ORDER

Jacqueline Robinson-Reeder seeks reconsideration of the Court's December 4, 2009 Memorandum Opinion and Order granting summary judgment to the American Council on Education ("ACE"). See Pl.'s Mot. for Reconsideration ("Pl.'s Mot.") [Docket Entry 112];*fn1 see also Robinson-Reeder v. Am. Council on Educ., --- F. Supp. 2d ---, 2009 WL 4456819 (D.D.C. 2009). Robinson-Reeder insists that justice requires the Court to revisit its decision because the Memorandum Opinion contains several "massive errors." Robinson-Reeder also asks the Court not to consider her September 9, 2009 deposition testimony in this action. See Pl.'s Mot. to Strike [Docket Entry 118]. The Court will resolve that motion here as well.

ANALYSIS

I. Motion for Reconsideration

Although there is no Federal Rule of Civil Procedure that expressly addresses motions for reconsideration, see Lance v. United Mine Workers of Am. 1974 Pension Trust, 400 F. Supp. 2d 29, 31 (D.D.C. 2005), Robinson-Reeder's allegation that the Court's December 4, 2009 Memorandum Opinion is replete with "massive errors" is properly characterized as a motion under Rule 60(b)(6). See Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(6) (a court may "relieve a party . . . from a final judgment" for "any . . . reason that justifies relief"). "[A] district court enjoys significant discretion in deciding whether to grant or deny a Rule 60(b) motion." Computer Prof'ls for Soc. Responsibility v. United States Secret Serv., 72 F.3d 897, 903 (D.C. Cir. 1996). Nevertheless, Rule 60(b)(6) "relief should be only sparingly used" in "extraordinary circumstances." Id.

Robinson-Reeder cites several purported "massive errors" that the Court made in its Memorandum Opinion, which the Court will take in turn. It is noteworthy, however, that despite her numerous filings, Robinson-Reeder has not presented any new grounds either to defeat ACE's motion for summary judgment or in support of her own motions for summary judgment. Accordingly, for the reasons stated below, the Court denies Robinson-Reeder's motion for reconsideration.*fn2

A. Brady v. Office of the Sergeant at Arms

Robinson-Reeder first contends that the Court misapplied the D.C. Circuit's decision in Brady v. Office of the Sergeant at Arms, 520 F.3d 490 (D.C. Cir. 2008). She opines that Brady "stops the McDonnell Douglas burden shift under the assumption the employer has already offered their non-discriminatory reasons before Summary Judgment and thus the prima facie case is irrelevant." Pl.'s Mem. at 18. Therefore, she insists that it was incorrect for the Court to stop its analysis of Robinson-Reeder's retaliation claim at the prima facie case. See id. at 18-19. Although Robinson-Reeder's description of Brady is correct, her application of it to this case is not. Brady relieves the district court of the obligation to analyze a plaintiff's prima facie case of discrimination or retaliation where the employer asserts a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the challenged action. See Brady, 520 F.3d at 493. Here, however, ACE never offered a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for its actions. Rather, it denied that any of the purported adverse actions actually occurred. Accordingly, the Court's analysis necessarily began with the question whether Robinson-Reeder presented a prima facie case of discrimination. And it properly ended there as well, for the Court found that there was no admissible evidence in the record to support Robinson-Reeder's allegation that she suffered an adverse action.

B. No Evidence in the Record to Support Robinson-Reeder's Retaliation Claim

Robinson-Reeder next argues that the Court erred when it concluded that she failed to point to any evidence in the record corroborating her allegation that she suffered an adverse action. She advances two arguments in support of reconsideration

First, she contends that there is admissible evidence supporting her allegation that she had been denied job references on three occasions.*fn3 See, e.g., Pl.'s Mot. at 2; Pl.'s Am. Reply at 2. In support of this assertion, Robinson-Reeder cites the written deposition testimony of Coleen Collins, the Assistant Vice President of Human Resources at ACE. In that deposition, Collins stated the following:

While I provided a favorable reference over the phone for Ms. Robinson-Reeder, I am aware of the ACE policy that states that no reference, other than confirmation of an employee's dates of employment and title(s) held, are given unless the employee signs a written authorization. For that reason, we are unable to provide anything beyond a neutral, written reference. In addition, when I was asked to put a favorable reference in writing, litigation in this and other related actions was already pending.

Def.'s Reply in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. [Docket Entry 96], Exhibit A (Defendant's Amended Responses to Plaintiff's Revised Request for Written Examination of Coleen Collins), 9. According to Robinson-Reeder, Collins's answer proves her prima facie case: "[d]efendants admit denying the neutral written reference, because they litigation and [sic] already started."

Pl.'s Mot. at 2. But Collins does not state that she denied Robinson-Reeder a neutral, written reference. In fact, Collins suggests that she will provide the standard, neutral reference to employers. At most, Collins asserts only that she could not put a favorable reference in writing, due to a standard policy of ACE. Accordingly, the passage provides no evidence that ACE denied ...


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