Former Georgia Sheriff’s Department Employee’s Motion for Reconsideration Denied in Employment Discrimination Lawsuit

Employment discrimination lawsuits can be procedurally complicated. For example, in an Atlanta race discrimination case arising from an allegedly illegal termination, there may be multiple claims, amended complaints, and various motions to dismiss filed by the defendant(s). The trial court must sort out each of the issues in the case, as they develop. Sometimes, some of the plaintiff’s claims – and maybe even some of the defendants – may be dismissed from the litigation prior to trial.

Depending upon the procedural posture of a particular case, some of the court’s decisions may not be ripe for appeal until after the case is tried. Whether a ruling is subject to reconsideration by the trial court is sometimes another highly disputed topic.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a recent federal district case was a former sheriff’s department employee who was terminated from his employment in late 2014. He filed suit against the sheriff’s office, two cities, two counties, a former sheriff, and another individual, asserting claims for race discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The sheriff and the other individual defendant filed a motion for summary judgment.

However, the federal district court noted that, prior to disposition of that motion, it was necessary to consider the plaintiff’s “motion for reconsideration” (which he claimed to have filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)) of the court’s rulings on prior issues in the case, insomuch as a ruling in the plaintiff’s favor on that motion would re-open discovery and force the defendants to “completely revamp” their motion for summary judgment.

Disposition of the Appeal

The United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, Macon Division, denied the plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration. Despite the conflict between the plaintiff’s labeling of his motion and the federal rule upon which he claimed to rely, the district court stated that the plaintiff’s clear intent was to reinstate two claims that had been previously dismissed, namely his Title VII race discrimination claim against one of the counties and his individual capacity § 1983 claim against one of the individual defendants.

In the court’s view, the plaintiff was attempting to use a post-judgment remedy to challenge a pretrial dismissal of two of his claims by claiming that the dismissal of these claims was “both legally and factually erroneous” in light of evidence obtained during discovery. While his motion “may have been timely filed under Rule 60,” the court found that the substance of the plaintiff’s request did not match the plain text of the rule; rather, the plaintiff was attempting to “force a square (substantive) peg into a round (procedural) hole. The only way that reconsideration could have been given in the case would have been for the plaintiff to have filed a “routine motion for reconsideration” under the court’s local rules. However, the plaintiff’s request came much too late to be considered as such a motion.

The court went on to note that there were substantive reasons for the denial of the plaintiff’s motion, including the fact that the plaintiff had consented to the dismissal of the claims that he sought to reinstate.

Contact an Atlanta Employment Discrimination Lawyer

To schedule an appointment to discuss your claim with a knowledgeable Atlanta race discrimination lawyer, please call Parks, Chesin & Walbert at 404-873-8048. Please be mindful that there are many deadlines that may be applicable in an employment law case, so it is important to act promptly to protect your legal rights. Claims not filed within the required amount of time are subject to dismissal, and a delay could cause the plaintiff to forfeit his or her right to pursue legal action.

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