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Lovely-Coley v. District of Columbia

United States District Court, District of Columbia

June 9, 2017




         The plaintiff, Cynthia Lovely-Coley, brings this civil action against the defendant, the District of Columbia (the “District”), asserting claims of interference and retaliation under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 2611-2619 (2012), arising out of delays in granting her applications for FMLA leave in 2010. See Civil Complaint for Equitable and Monetary Relief and Demand for Jury Trial (“Compl.”) ¶¶ 1-34. Currently pending before the Court are the Defendant's Motion for Reconsideration of the Court's Order Denying Motion for Summary Judgment (“Def.'s Mot.”), and the Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint and Reopen Discovery (“Pl.'s Mot.”). Upon careful consideration of the parties' submissions and the oral arguments heard at the December 20, 2016 motion hearing, [1] the Court concludes that the District's motion must be granted and the plaintiff's motion must be denied.[2]

         I. BACKGROUND

         Much of the factual background of this case has been previously set forth by the Court, see Lovely-Coley v. District of Columbia, 191 F.Supp.3d 20, 22-23 (D.D.C. 2016) (Walton, J.), and therefore, the Court will not recount all of the facts again here. However, relevant to the pending motions is a brief summary of the current procedural posture of this case.

         On June 8, 2016, the Court issued a ruling denying the defendant's motion for summary judgment because it had concluded that (1) “[t]he plaintiff ha[d] shown that genuine disputes of material fact exist as to whether the [District] interfered with [the plaintiff's] rights under the FMLA and retaliated against her for attempting to exercise those rights” and (2) “a reasonable jury could find that the [District's] alleged conduct prejudiced [the plaintiff] in such a manner that either monetary or equitable relief can remedy that prejudice.” Lovely-Coley, 191 F.Supp.3d at 26. Thereafter, the parties engaged in unsuccessful settlement discussions, and on October 3, 2016, the Court held a status conference to ascertain how the parties wished to proceed in this case (i.e., continue settlement discussions or proceed with trial). At this hearing, the District made an oral request to file a motion for reconsideration of the Court's denial of its summary judgment motion based on information obtained during settlement negotiations. The District represented that the new information identified would in fact preclude the damages the plaintiff claims she is entitled to receive. The Court granted the District's oral request, and after the District's motion for reconsideration was fully briefed, the Court held an additional hearing, wherein it entertained oral arguments on the District's motion.

         During the oral arguments, the District argued that the plaintiff would be unable to establish compensable injuries because the Metropolitan Police Department (the “MPD”) “had no paid family leave program during the relevant time period, and did not implement one until 2014, ” and because there had not been a formal selection of or a promotion of anyone to Detective Grade One during the relevant time period. The plaintiff responded that she would be able to show damages because she alleged in her Complaint that her “meets expectations” performance evaluations prevented her from also seeking a lateral transfer to a different unit within the MPD, and that such transfer was a form of a promotion that she was constructively denied from obtaining. The District disputed that there was any allegation of the denial of a promotion on the basis of a lateral transfer in the plaintiff's Complaint, and when the plaintiff was unable to identify or direct the Court to the purported allegations in her Complaint, she orally requested to file a motion for leave to file an amended complaint, which the Court granted. Given that the parties have now completed briefing the plaintiff's motion for leave to file an amended complaint, the Court finds it appropriate to address both the plaintiff's motion for leave to file an amended complaint and the District's motion for reconsideration.


         A. Motions for Leave to File Amended Complaint

         This District's “case law makes clear that once the court enters a scheduling order, that schedule can only be modified with the court's consent and with good cause shown.” A Love of Food I, LLC v. Maoz Vegetarian USA, Inc., 292 F.R.D. 142, 143 (D.D.C. 2013) (citing cases); see also Lurie v. Mid-Atl. Permanente Med. Grp., P.C., 589 F.Supp.2d 21, 23 (D.D.C. 2008) (“Given their heavy case loads, district courts require the effective case management tools provided by Rule 16. Therefore, after the deadlines provided by a scheduling order have passed, the good cause standard must be satisfied to justify leave to amend the pleadings.” (quoting Nourison Rug Corp. v. Parvizian, 535 F.3d 295, 298 (4th Cir. 2008))). While Rule 15(a) governs motions to amend pleadings filed within the time allotted by the scheduling order, Rule 16(b) governs motions to amend pleadings filed after the deadline provided by the scheduling order. See Brooks v. Clinton, 841 F.Supp.2d 287, 296 (D.D.C 2012). “To hold otherwise would allow Rule 16's standards to be short circuited by those of Rule 15 and would allow for parties to disregard scheduling orders, which would undermine the court's ability to control its docket, disrupt the agreed-upon course of the litigation, and reward the indolent and the cavalier.” Lurie, 589 F.Supp.2d at 23 (internal citations and quotations omitted). “This approach is consistent with the circuits that have addressed this question.” A Love of Food, 292 F.R.D. at 144 (citing Nourison Rug Corp., 535 F.3d at 298 (identifying cases from the First, Second, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Eleventh Circuits that have addressed the question)).

         B. Motions for Reconsideration

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b), any order or decision that does not constitute a final judgment “may be revised at any time before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all the claims and all the parties' rights and liabilities.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b). Although “district court[s] ha[ve] ‘broad discretion to hear a motion for reconsideration brought under Rule 54(b), '” Univ. of Colo. Health at Mem'l Hosp. v. Burwell, 164 F.Supp.3d 56, 62 (D.D.C. 2016) (quoting Isse v. Am. Univ., 544 F.Supp.2d 25, 29 (D.D.C. 2008)), district courts grant motions for reconsideration of interlocutory orders only “as justice requires, ” Capitol Sprinkler Inspection, Inc. v. Guest Servs., Inc., 630 F.3d 217, 227 (D.C. Cir. 2011) (quoting Greene v. Union Mut. Life Ins. Co. of Am., 764 F.2d 19, 22-23 (1st Cir. 1985)).

         C. Motions for Summary Judgment

         Courts will grant a motion for summary judgment “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “A fact is material if it ‘might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law, ' and a dispute about a material fact is genuine ‘if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non[-]moving party.'” Steele v. Schafer, 535 F.3d 689, 692 (D.C. Cir. 2008) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)).

         On a motion for summary judgment, “[t]he evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in [her] favor.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255 (citation omitted). “Credibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge . . . ruling on a motion for summary judgment . . . .” Id. The movant has the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact and that the non-moving party “fail[ed] to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).

         In responding to a summary judgment motion, the non-moving party “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Accordingly, the non-moving party must not rely on “mere allegations or denials . . . but must set forth specific facts showing that there [are] genuine issue[s] for trial.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248 (one ellipsis omitted) (quoting First Nat'l Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 288 (1968)). “The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the [non-moving party's] position ...

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