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Mendez v. Dentists P.C.

August 18, 2010

NEREIDA MENDEZ, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DENTISTS P.C., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Samuel Der-yeghiayan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on Defendants' motion for relief from judgment and on Plaintiff Nereida Mendez's (Mendez) motion for sanctions. For the reasons stated below, we deny the motion for relief from judgment and deny the motion for sanctions.

BACKGROUND

Mendez brought the instant action and included in her second amended complaint a claim alleging gender discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.,and a Title VII hostile work environment claim (Count I), a Title VII retaliation claim (Count II), assault and battery claims (Count III), intentional infliction of emotional distress claims (Count IV), an Illinois retaliatory discharge claim (Count V), a Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., claim (Count VI), and an Illinois Minimum Wage Law, 820 ILCS 105/1 et seq., claim (Count VII). The case proceeded to trial, and on April 26, 2007, the jury delivered a verdict in favor of Mendez on all claims. The jury awarded Mendez compensatory damages, excluding back pay and overtime, in the amount of $20,431.25, overtime damages in the amount of $6,750, and lost wages, for the Illinois retaliatory discharge claim only, in the amount of $4,000, for a total non-punitive damages award of $31,181.25. The jury also awarded punitive damages in the amount of $500,000 for the Title VII harassment claim and $250,000 for the Title VII retaliation and Illinois retaliation claims. On April 27, 2007, final judgment was entered in this case. The parties subsequently filed post-trial motions and briefs concerning the statutory damages cap. On March 6, 2008, this case was reassigned to the undersigned judge. On March 26, 2008, we granted Mendez's post-trial motions and denied Defendants' post-trial motions. On April 28, 2008, Defendants filed a notice of appeal and the appeal is currently pending before the Seventh Circuit. Defendants now request pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) (Rule 60(b)) that the court vacate the final judgment entered by the prior judge on April 27, 2007. Mendez seeks sanctions against Defendants' counsel and counsel's law firms for bringing the Rule 60(b) motion.

LEGAL STANDARD

Rule 60(b) provides the following:

On motion and just terms, the court may relieve a party or its legal representative from a final judgment, order, or proceeding for the following reasons:

(1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect;

(2) newly discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence, could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b);

(3) fraud (whether previously called intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party;

(4) the judgment is void;

(5) the judgment has been satisfied, released or discharged; it is based on an earlier judgment that has been reversed or vacated; or applying it prospectively is no longer equitable; or

(6) any other reason that justifies relief.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b). The relief sought under Rule 60(b) "is 'an extraordinary remedy and is granted only in exceptional circumstances,' [and] a district court abuses its discretion only when 'no reasonable person could agree' with the decision to deny relief." Eskridge v. Cook County, 577 F.3d 806, 809 (7th Cir. 2009)(quoting in part McCormick v. City of Chicago, 230 F.3d 319, 327 (7th Cir. 2000)); see also Arrieta v. Battaglia, 461 F.3d 861, 865 (7th Cir. 2006)(noting that Relief under Rule 60(b)(6) requires a ...


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