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Adol Owen-Williams v. Bb&T Investment Services

July 18, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Colleen Kollar-kotelly United States District Judge


Over five years ago, Plaintiff Adol Owen-Williams ("Owen-Williams") commenced this breach of contract action against Defendant BB&T Investment Services, Inc. ("BB&T") in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. After removing the action to this Court, BB&T moved to compel arbitration and to dismiss the action. A shade less than five years ago, this Court granted BB&T's motion, concluding that the arbitration clause in the parties' agreement was enforceable as to all claims, and consequently compelled the parties to proceed to arbitration and dismissed this action without prejudice. Subsequently, the parties proceeded to arbitrate their dispute before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. At the conclusion of those proceedings, the panel entered a final award in BB&T's favor. Dissatisfied with that outcome, Owen-Williams moved this Court to vacate the arbitration award or to reconsider its decision to compel arbitration in the first place, a decision that had been issued over two years earlier. Unsurprisingly, BB&T opposed that motion and cross-moved to confirm the arbitration award. On May 24, 2010, this Court issued a thorough opinion denying Owen-Williams' motion in its entirety and granting BB&T's cross-motion to confirm the arbitration award. Undeterred, Owen- Williams has filed a document styled as [20] "Motion for Expedited Reconsideration to Vacate Arbitration Ruling and Confirm Arbitration Award" ("Motion for Reconsideration"), in which he asks this Court to "reconsider" its May 24, 2010 decision. Although framed as such, the motion plainly is not one for "reconsideration," as it rests exclusively on arguments that should have been raised in prior submissions, recycles the same arguments already pressed and rejected, recites conclusory allegations devoid of factual support, and tenders a litany of arguments that simply are not valid grounds for reconsideration. The motion will be denied.


As a preliminary matter, the parties disagree as to whether the Court should consider the pending motion under Rule 59(e) or Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. As a general matter, courts treat a motion for reconsideration as originating under Rule 59(e) if it is filed within 28*fn1 days of the entry of the order at issue and as originating under Rule 60(b) if filed thereafter. See Sataki v. Broad. Bd. of Governors, 272 F.R.D. 21, 24 (D.D.C. 2010). In this case, the challenged decision was entered on May 24, 2010. Consequently, Owen-Williams had until and including June 21, 2010 to file a motion under Rule 59(e). Because his motion was filed on June 7, 2010, the Court will consider the motion as one arising under Rule 59(e).


The Court assumes familiarity with its prior opinions, which set forth in detail the factual and procedural background of this case. See Owen Williams v. BB&T Inv. Servs., Inc., Civ. Act. No. 06-948, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52392 (D.D.C. July 31, 2006); Owen-Williams v. BB&T Inv. Servs., Inc., 717 F. Supp. 2d 1 (D.D.C. 2010). Accordingly, the Court will limit itself here to setting forth those facts that are most germane to the pending motion.

A. The Commencement of the Action

This lawsuit has its origins in BB&T's decision to rescind its offer of employment to Owen-Williams. In early 2006, Owen-Williams interviewed for and was ultimately offered a position with BB&T. Id. at 3. Thereafter, a BB&T recruiter sent Owen-Williams a letter regarding the job offer (the "Employment Contract"), accompanied by a Protective Covenants Agreement (the "Covenants Agreement").*fn2 Id. The Employment Contract stated, in relevant part, that "[a]ll employment offers are contingent upon standard background checks," and informed Owen-Williams that his employment with BB&T would begin on April 10, 2006. Id. at 4. Significantly, the Covenants Agreement, which Owen-Williams signed, included a mandatory arbitration clause. Id.
Shortly thereafter, BB&T decided to rescind its employment offer to Owen-Williams based on information uncovered in the course of running a background check. Id. The BB&T recruiter communicated BB&T's decision to Owen-Williams prior to the date he was scheduled to begin his employment. Id. After unsuccessfully pursuing the matter further with the BB&T recruiter, Owen-Williams retained counsel*fn3 and, on April 21, 2006, filed suit in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia alleging that BB&T terminated him in violation of his employment contract. Id. At the same time, he filed an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order ("TRO") with the aim of preventing BB&T from filling the position in question. Id. The Superior Court held an evidentiary hearing on the requested TRO and denied the motion from the bench. Id. at 5. Three days later, however, the Superior Court vacated its initial decision and issued an order permitting the parties to offer further evidence at a second evidentiary hearing. Id. Ultimately, the Superior Court denied the requested TRO in a final order dated May 8, 2006. Id.

B. The Court's Order Compelling Arbitration

On May 19, 2006, BB&T removed the action to this Court. Id. Shortly thereafter, BB&T filed a [4] Motion to Compel Arbitration and Dismiss or Stay Proceedings, which was granted by the Court on July 31, 2006. See Owen-Williams, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52392. In an extended opinion, the Court found that the arbitration agreement between the parties was a binding contract supported by consideration, that the Federal Arbitration Act governed the agreement, and that BB&T had not waived its right to enforce the arbitration agreement. See Owen-Williams, 717 F. Supp. 2d at 5. In short, the Court concluded that, "[g]iven the breadth of the arbitration agreement and the fact that Plaintiff and Defendant's dispute falls squarely within the language of the agreement referring to termination and breach, it is apparent that all of the issues in this action are subject to arbitration." Id. The Court entered an order compelling arbitration and dismissing the action without prejudice. Id. Owen-Williams took no immediate action; he neither appealed the order nor filed a prompt motion for reconsideration. Id.

C. The Arbitration Proceedings

Following the Court's decision, the parties proceeded to arbitration. On December 20, 2007, Owen-Williams filed a Statement of Claim, the analog to a complaint in federal practice, with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, raising the same allegations asserted in his initial lawsuit. See Owen-Williams, 717 F. Supp. 2d at 5. A three-person panel was appointed, and an initial pre-hearing telephonic conference was held on April 30, 2008. See id. The arbitration hearing ultimately took place over two days in July and one day in September of 2009. See id. at 6-8. Owen-Williams was represented by counsel throughout the proceedings. See id. at 5-6. The arbitration panel issued its final award on September 22, 2008, awarding judgment in BB&T's favor. Id. at 8. Specifically, the panel concluded as follows:

After considering the pleadings, the testimony and evidence presented at the hearing, the Panel has decided in full and final resolution of the issues submitted for determination as follows: Respondent is not ...

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