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Menoken v. McGettigan

United States District Court, District of Columbia

November 14, 2017

CASSANDRA M. MENOKEN, Plaintiff,
v.
KATHLEEN MCGETTIGAN Acting Director, United States Office of Personnel Management, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

          AMY BERMAN JACKSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pending before the Court is plaintiff Cassandra M. Menoken's motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) for reconsideration of the Court's August 11, 2017 order granting defendants' motion to dismiss. Pl.'s Mot. to Alter or Amend J. [Dkt. # 19] ("Pl.'s Mot."); Mem. of P. & A. in Supp. of Pl.'s Mot. [Dkt. # 20-1] ("Pl.'s Mem.").[1] The Court previously concluded that plaintiffs retaliation claims against defendants the United States Office of Personnel Management ("OPM") and the Social Security Agency ("SSA") were precluded under the doctrines of res judicata and issue preclusion. Menoken v. McGettigan, No. 16-0084, 2017 WL 3479048, at *1, *4-7 (D.D.C. Aug. 11, 2017) ("Menoken II”).

         Plaintiff contends that the Court misunderstood her claim by overlooking alleged facts, and she maintains that the Court's decision "does not accord with equity principles and applicable law." Pl.'s Mem. at 2-3. Because plaintiff has not identified any proper basis for the Court to alter or set aside the judgment, the motion will be denied.

         BACKGROUND

         The factual and procedural background of this case, the nature of plaintiff s claims against defendants, and the basis for the Court's ruling are laid out in detail in the Court's decision, Menoken II, 2017 WL 3479048, so the Court will address the facts only briefly here.

         In 1993, plaintiff took the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") examination, which was administered by OPM. Am. Compl. [Dkt. # 9] ("Menoken II Compl.") ¶ 4. OPM created an ALJ Register using the scores of applicants who had completed the 1993 exam. Id. ¶¶ 16, 22. In May of 1994, plaintiff filed an administrative complaint against OPM with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC Action"), [2] alleging that the examination and selection process violated Title VII by discriminating against African American and female applicants through its design and implementation. See Ex. 1 to Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss [Dkt. #11-2] ("EEOC Order") at 1; see also Menoken v. Whipple, 605 F.Supp.2d 148, 150 (D.D.C. 2009) ("Menoken I") (describing the procedural history of plaintiff s case), no

         On November 9, 2000, the Administrative Judge presiding over the matter found that a portion of the exam violated Title VII, and he ordered OPM to "cease" use of a scoring benchmark that awarded points to applicants who were partners at large law firms because it was found to have an "adverse impact on the basis of race." See Menoken II Compl. ¶¶ 11-13; EEOC Order at 50, 61. On June 29, 2001, the Administrative Judge ordered OPM to review the scores of all applicants on the 1993 ALJ Register, adjust their scores and rankings if they had been affected, and notify agencies using the 1993 ALJ Register of the discriminatory factor and the EEOC's decision. See Menoken II Compl ¶¶ 13-15, 17-19, 21; Ex. 2 to Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss [Dkt. # 11- 3].

         In March 2001, OPM issued a certificate to SSA containing the names of eligible candidates for ALJ positions that SSA was seeking to fill. Menoken II Compl. ¶ 36. The certificate was based on the 1993 rankings, and plaintiffs name was not included. Id. ¶¶ 22, 39. SSA used this certificate to make ALJ selections in April 2001, and it communicated offers to selectees in September 2001. Id.¶ 54.

         In August 2003, plaintiff brought an action in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleging that OPM "failed to comply" with the EEOC Order and that OPM's administration of the ALJ selection process unlawfully discriminated against African American and female applicants in violation of Title VII. See Menoken I, 605 F.Supp.2d at 151-52. In March 2009, the court granted summary judgment for OPM on all counts, and it explicitly held that OPM was in compliance with the EEOC Order. Id. at 152-53.

         On January 15, 2016, plaintiff filed the original complaint in this case, asserting Title VII retaliation claims against OPM and SSA. Compl. [Dkt. # 1]. In her amended complaint, plaintiff alleged that in March 2001, two years before she sued OPM the first time, OPM and SSA manipulated the ALJ selection process to deny plaintiff consideration for an ALJ position because she was a "prevailing party" in the 1994 EEOC Action. See Menoken II Compl. ¶¶ 36-41, 55; see also Id. at 10-11. On October 11, 2016, defendants moved to dismiss plaintiffs claims, Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss [Dkt. #11], and on August 11, 2017, the Court granted defendants' motion. See Menoken II, 2017 WL 3479048.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         "Motions under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) are disfavored and relief from judgment is granted only when the moving party establishes extraordinary circumstances." Niedermeier v. Office of Max S. Baucus, 153 F.Supp.2d 23, 28 (D.D.C. 2001), citing Anyanwutaku v. Moore, 151 F.3d 1053, 1057(D.C.Cir. 1998). "A Rule 59(e) motion is discretionary and 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." Ciralsky v. CIA, 355 F.3d 661, 671 (D.C. Cir. 2004), quoting Firestone v. Firestone, 76 F.3d 1205, 1208 (D.C. Cir. 1996). Rule 59(e) "may not be used to relitigate old matters, or to raise arguments or present evidence that could have been raised prior to the entry of judgment" Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker, 554 U.S. 471, 485 n.5 (2008), quoting 11 Charles Wright & Arthur Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure §2810.1 (2d ed. 1995). Rather, motions to alter or amend a judgment "are intended to permit the court to correct errors of fact appearing on the face of the record, or errors of law." Hammond v. Kempthorne, 448 F.Supp.2d 114, 118 (D.D.C. 2006), quoting Indep. Petroleum Ass'n of Am. v. Babbitt, 178 F.R.D. 323, 324 (D.D.C. 1998).

         ANALYSIS

         Plaintiff does not identify any intervening change of controlling law or new evidence that would warrant reconsideration of the Court's ruling. So, to prevail on her motion, plaintiff must demonstrate that it is necessary to alter the Court's judgment in order to correct ...


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