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Jackson v. Illinois Dep't of Human Services

April 30, 2009

MARK JACKSON, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reagan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

A. Introduction and Background

On October 12, 2007, Plaintiff Mark Jackson, a former employee at the Clyde H. Choate Mental Health and Development Center (Choate), filed this action against three defendants: the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), Carol Adams, the secretary of IDHS, and Cindy Flamm, the administrator of Choate. (Doc. 2). In his complaint, Jackson raised five claims: sex discrimination in violation of Title VII (Count 1), a violation of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) (Count 2), violations of his First Amendment rights (Counts 3 & 4), and retaliatory discharge (Count 5). On December 18, 2008, however, Jackson voluntarily moved to dismiss the claims against Defendants Adams and Flamm (Counts 3 & 4), leaving IDHS as the sole remaining defendant in this action.

On March 20, 2009, this Court granted summary judgment in favor of IDHS as to all remaining claims (Doc. 35). In doing so, the Court found that Jackson failed to meet his burden in establishing a prima facie case for sex discrimination. Additionally, the Court found that Jackson had abandoned his ADA and retaliatory discharge claims, a ruling which Jackson does not now dispute.

On April 3, 2009, Jackson filed a motion to reconsider and amend the judgment under FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 59(e) (Doc. 37). IDHS filed its response on April 17, 2009 (Doc. 39). Having fully reviewed the parties' filings, the Court hereby DENIES Jackson's motion.

B. Legal Standards

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not specifically address motions to "reconsider." However, Rule 59(e) permits the filing of motions to alter or amend judgments "no later than 10 days after the entry of the judgment," and Rule 60(b) authorizes motions for relief from final judgments or orders.

For many years, the Seventh Circuit (and this Court) used a bright-line test to determine whether Rule 59(e) or Rule 60(b) governed motions to reconsider. If the motion was filed within ten days of the date the challenged judgment or order was entered, Rule 59(e) applied. If the motion to reconsider was filed more than ten days after the judgment or order was entered, then Rule 60(b) applied, no matter how the motion was labeled. See Romo v. Gulf Stream Coach, Inc., 250 F.3d 1119, 1121 n.3 (7th Cir. 2001); Britton v. Swift Transp. Co., Inc.,127 F.3d 616, 618 (7th Cir. 1997); Russell v. Delco Remy Div. of General Motors Corp., 51 F.3d 746, 750 (7th Cir. 1995); Hope v. United States, 43 F.3d 1140, 1143 (7th Cir. 1994); United States v. Deutsch, 981 F.2d 299, 301 (7th Cir. 1992); Charles v. Daley, 799 F.2d 343, 347 (7th Cir. 1986) ("all substantive motions served within 10 days of the entry of judgment will be treated as based on Rule 59").

In 2008, the Seventh Circuit encouraged a different approach as to motions filed within the ten-day period: whether a motion filed within 10 days of the entry of judgment should be analyzed under Rule 59(e) or Rule 60(b) depends on the substance of the motion, not on the timing or label affixed to it. Therefore, the former approach-that, no matter what their substance, all post-judgment motions filed within 10 days of judgment would be construed as Rule 59(e) motions-no longer applies. In short, motions are to be analyzed according to their terms . . . .

Neither the timing of the motion, nor its label (especially when drafted by a pro se litigant) is dispositive with respect to the appropriate characterization of the motion.

Obriecht v. Raemisch,517 F.3d 489, 493 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 129 S.Ct. 417 (2008) (citing Borrero v. City of Chicago, 456 F.3d 698, 701-02 (7th Cir. 2006)). Borreroand its progeny have broadened the approach to motions filed within the ten-day period following entry of judgment.

Jackson's motion was filed within the ten-day period.*fn1 Additionally, the substance of the motion indicates that it falls under Rule 59(e). Jackson's motion seeks to correct what he feels to be the Court's "manifest errors both in apprehending all of the relevant facts and consideration of all of the applicable law" (Doc. 37, p. 2). Based on the timing of filing and its substance, Jackson's motion shall be analyzed under FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 59(e).

Four grounds justify reconsideration under Rule 59(e): (1) an intervening change in the law, (2) new evidence not available at the time of the original ruling, (3) a clear legal error, and (4) the prevention of manifest injustice. See Baicker-McKee, Janssen, & Corr, FEDERAL CIVIL RULES HANDBOOK, p. 1006 (2007); see also Publishers Resource, Inc. v. Walker-Davis Publications, Inc., 762 F.2d 557, 561 (7th Cir. 1985) (explaining that Rule 59(e) motions serve a limited function: "to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence.").

Additionally, in ruling on the instant motion, the Court is mindful that motions to reconsider may not be used to relitigate issues or present arguments which could have been previously addressed. Caisse Nationale de Credit Agricole v. CBI Industries, Inc., 90 F.3d 1264, 1270 (7th Cir. 1996) ("Reconsideration is not an appropriate forum for rehashing previously rejected arguments or arguing matters that could have been heard during the pendency of the previous motion."); Bally Export Corp. v. Balicar Ltd., 804 F.2d 398, 404 (7th Cir. 1986) (explaining that a motion to reconsider is not an appropriate vehicle to introduce new legal theories); Publishers Resource v. ...


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