United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
May 10, 2005.
JAMES D. MINCH, RICHARD A. GRAF and RICHARD CONSENTINO, individually, and on behalf of a class of all individuals who are similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
CITY OF CHICAGO, an Illinois Municipal Corporation, Defendant.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: SAMUEL DER-YEGHIAYAN, District Judge
This matter is before the court on Plaintiffs' motion for
reconsideration brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 59(e). For the reasons stated below, we deny
Plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration.
Plaintiffs in this action initially consisted of former City of
Chicago ("City") firefighters that were subjected to mandatory
retirement in December of 2000 in accordance with a Mandatory Retirement Ordinance ("MRO") enacted
by the City in May of 2000. Plaintiffs filed a three count
complaint alleging a violation of the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., (Count I), a
federal due process claim (Count II), and a state due process
claim (Count III). This action was ultimately consolidated with a
similar action brought by City police officers and firefighters
and the prior judge in this action certified a question for
interlocutory review in regards to the ADEA claims. The Seventh
Circuit remanded the action back to this court and ordered that
the court dismiss the ADEA claims. The City subsequently moved to
dismiss the remaining due process claims in this action against
the Firefighter Plaintiffs ("Plaintiffs") and on January 3, 2005,
we granted the City's motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' due process
claims. Plaintiffs have brought the instant motion seeking a
reconsideration of the court's January 3, 2005 ruling.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) ("Rule 59(e)") permits
parties to file, within ten days of the entry of a judgment, a
motion to alter or amend the judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e). Rule
59(e) motions do not give a party the opportunity to rehash old
arguments or to present new arguments or evidence "that could and
should have been presented to the district court prior to the
judgment." Moro v. Shell Oil Co., 91 F.3d 872, 876 (7th Cir.
1996) (citing LB Credit Corp. v. Resolution Trust Corp., 49 F.3d 1263, 1267 (7th Cir. 1995)). Rather, for a Rule
59(e) motion, the movant "must clearly establish either a
manifest error of law or fact or must present newly discovered
evidence" in order to be successful. LB Credit Corp.,
49 F.3d at 1267 (quoting Federal Deposit Ins. Corp. v. Meyer,
781 F.2d 1260, 1268 (7th Cir. 1986)). The decision of whether to grant or
deny a motion brought pursuant to Rule 59(e) "is entrusted to the
sound judgment of the district court. . . ." In re Prince,
85 F.3d 314, 324 (7th Cir. 1996).
Plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration is improper for a
variety of reasons. First of all, many of the arguments presented
by Plaintiffs are completely new arguments that were not
previously presented in opposition to Defendants' motion to
dismiss. Although Plaintiffs' new arguments do not have any more
merit than their previous ones, Plaintiffs are improperly
utilizing their motion for reconsideration in an attempt to gain
a second review of Defendants' motion to dismiss. As indicated
above, it is improper to include arguments in a motion for
reconsideration that could have been presented previously. A
motion for reconsideration is also reserved for when a court has
committed a manifest error of law. A motion for reconsideration
is not available to parties so that they can ask the opposing
party and the court to needlessly waste resources by litigating
every motion twice. In the instant motion for reconsideration,
Plaintiffs do little more than argue in hindsight based upon the court's prior ruling, attempting to distinguish the court's prior
ruling by posing a new set of arguments to see if the court will
change its mind the second time around. Plaintiffs do not point
to any manifest error or any basic misunderstanding of the facts
at issue in this action. Instead, Plaintiffs argue that they
disagree with the court's prior ruling and ask that the court
alter its decision. We could deny Plaintiffs' motion for
reconsideration on these bases alone. However, as Plaintiffs' new
arguments clearly have no more merit than the first set of
arguments, we will address them in an expeditious manner below.
Plaintiffs first argue that the court erred in finding that
Plaintiffs lacked a protectable property interest in continued
employment. Plaintiffs again argue that they have a right to
continued employment based upon Section 16.2 of the CBA which
indicates that Plaintiffs would only be fired "for just cause."
(CBA Sec. 16.2(B)). As we explained in our prior ruling, Section
16.2 applies to disciplinary actions and is not applicable in the
instant action because none of the Plaintiffs contend that they
were fired for disciplinary reasons. Plaintiffs' first argument
in regards to the court's ruling is that the prior judge in the
action had ruled differently on the same issue. However, the
prior judge clearly tied her determination regarding the
Plaintiffs' due process claims to her ruling on the ADEA claims
stating the following: "I have already concluded that the
plaintiffs state a claim for a violation of the ADEA, so that
they have also stated a claim for a violation of the City's
contractual obligation to abide by the law." (3/25/02 Mem. 30).
Since that ruling, the Seventh Circuit ordered that the ADEA claims in this case be
dismissed and thus, we subsequently ruled upon Defendants' latest
motion to dismiss under different circumstances than the prior
judge. Also, the ruling on Defendants' initial motion to dismiss
in this regard is clearly contrary to the law as Plaintiffs have
failed to allege a sufficient property interest to support the
due process claims from the outset of this action.
Plaintiffs also argue that Section 16.2 of the CBA does not
solely apply to disciplinary actions. We disagree. Plaintiffs
have presented no new argument that draws into question the
court's prior reasoning in this regard. Plaintiffs point out that
Section 16.2 states that it deals with employees that are
"disciplined and discharged." Plaintiffs highlight the word "and"
in their brief and argue that the word "and" indicates that
Section 16.2 applies to more than simply disciplinary actions.
However, we are not convinced that the word "and" in the above
phrase supports Plaintiffs' position or that it justifies the
strained inference that Plaintiffs seek to draw from the word in
Section 16.2. Section 16.2 provides that the City "agrees that
employees shall be disciplined and discharged only for cause."
CBA Sec. 16.2(B)). Section 16.2 is clearly intended to address
disciplinary actions only. Section 9.1(C)(3) of the CBA, which
provides for the termination of employment when an employee
"[r]etires or is retired," is applicable in the instant action
and there is no "just cause" provision in Section 9.1 and in
Section 16.2. (CBA Sec. 9.1). Plaintiffs again argue that Section 9.1(C)(3) does not apply to
Plaintiffs' due process rights and ask that the court "reject the
City's request to judicially rewrite the `is retired' language
in" Section 9.1 of the CBA. (Mot. 5). First of all, this argument
illustrates the impropriety of the instant motion for
reconsideration because the court has already agreed with
Defendants' position and has ruled in Defendants' favor.
Plaintiffs' argument that the court should reject the City's
argument is thus untimely. Regardless, Plaintiffs' instant
argument on this issue is without merit. It is the court, rather
than Plaintiffs, that applied the plain and explicit language of
the CBA in a logical manner in making its decision and it is
Plaintiffs that attempt to twist the text of Section 9.1 to
present their own interpretation in their favor. Plaintiffs'
arguments are based upon unsupported inferences that are contrary
to the explicit language of the CBA.
Plaintiffs next argue that the fact that the Seventh Circuit
dismissed Plaintiffs' ADEA claims does not mean that Defendants
did not discriminate against Plaintiffs because of their age.
However, Plaintiffs' argument flies in the face of the Seventh
Circuit's ruling in this action. Despite Plaintiffs' protests to
the contrary, the Seventh Circuit clearly found that the MRO did
not constitute age discrimination. Thus, not only are Plaintiffs
improperly utilizing the motion for reconsideration to bombard
this court with arguments on the motion to dismiss, Plaintiffs
are also continuing to challenge the Seventh Circuit's prior
ruling in this action.
Plaintiffs next complain that the court "appears to have relied
upon" some arguments that Plaintiffs contend were first presented by
Defendants in their reply brief. (Mot. 10). First of all,
Plaintiffs are incorrect when they presume what the court relied
upon in forming its decision. The court did not rely on the
arguments that Plaintiffs now complain about in Defendants' reply
brief. Secondly, the arguments contained in Defendants' reply
brief were clearly not new arguments, but rather were in direct
response to the arguments made by Plaintiffs in their answer to
the motion to dismiss. Thus, there was nothing improper in
regards to the arguments in Defendants' reply brief. Third,
Plaintiffs have attempted to manipulate the motion for
reconsideration process in order to obtain a second review of
Defendants' motion to dismiss. Plaintiffs have thus presented all
of their new arguments subsequent to the filing of Defendants'
reply brief and we note that the arguments included in
Plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration would not have caused the
court's prior ruling to be altered.
Plaintiffs' final argument is to simply refer to the motion to
dismiss standard and ask the court to find that there are
potential facts in this action that might form the basis of a
claim. We abided by the appropriate legal standard when ruling on
Defendants' motion to dismiss and specifically acknowledged in
our prior ruling that the allegations of a complaint should not
be dismissed for a failure to state a claim "unless it appears
beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in
support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley
v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957). Under such a standard, we
found a dismissal appropriate and Plaintiffs have pointed to no new facts that would alter our prior ruling.
Although the federal notice pleading standard is liberal in this
regard, Plaintiffs are still required to allege the operative
facts in their complaint. Kyle v. Morton High School,
144 F.3d 448, 445-55 (7th Cir. 1998). This court cannot, as Plaintiffs
propose, allow an action to proceed past the pleadings stage
based solely upon unreasonable inferences extracted from the
pleadings and unfounded speculation. Were the pleading
requirements such that a court could not dismiss an action unless
there were no possible claims when subjected to the unbounded
imagination of the parties and the court, no action would ever be
dismissed. Plaintiffs have not met the pleading requirements
under the federal notice pleading standard and we properly
dismissed their due process claims.
We also note that, in a footnote of Plaintiffs' motion for
reconsideration, Plaintiffs ask leave to file an amended
complaint to correct the obvious deficiencies in their complaint.
Such a request is improper since this case has been terminated.
This action has gone on for nearly four years, including an
appeal to the Seventh Circuit and a ruling by that court
instructing this court to dismiss certain claims from the
complaint. Plaintiffs are not entitled to rewrite their complaint
and begin anew at this juncture after the case has been
terminated. Therefore, we deny Plaintiffs' motion for
reconsideration and we deny Plaintiffs' request to amend their
complaint as moot. CONCLUSION
Based on the foregoing analysis, we deny Plaintiffs' motion for
reconsideration. All other pending motions are denied as moot.
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