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Case Uvalle v. Dominick et al

February 22, 2011

CASE UVALLE
v.
DOMINICK ET AL



Name of Assigned Judge Amy J. St. Eve Sitting Judge if Other or Magistrate Judge than Assigned Judge

TITLE DOCKET ENTRY TEXT

The Court denies Defendant Larry Dominick's motion to reconsider and alter [107] because he has failed to establish that the Court committed a manifest error of law or fact in the February 10, 2011 summary judgment order.

O[ For further details see text below.] Notices mailed by Judicial staff.

STATEMENT

On February 10, 2011, the Court granted in part and denied in part the Individual Defendants' summary judgment motion and denied Defendant Town of Cicero's summary judgment motion in this First Amendment political affiliation lawsuit brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court presumes familiarity with its February 10, 2011 Memorandum, Opinion, and Order. Before the Court is Individual Defendant Larry Dominick's Motion to Reconsider and Alter the Court's denial of his summary judgment motion. For the following reasons, the Court, in its discretion, denies Dominick's motion for reconsideration because he has not established that the Court committed a manifest error of law or fact.

LEGAL STANDARD

Because the Court's February 10, 2011 Memorandum, Opinion, and Order did not dispose of this case in its entirety, the Court reviews Dominick's reconsideration motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b), which states in relevant part: any order or other decision, however designated, that adjudicates fewer than all the claims or the rights and liabilities of fewer than all the parties does not end the action as to any of the claims or parties and may be revised at any time before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all the claims and all the parties' rights and liabilities.

Accordingly, under Rule 54(b), the Court may exercise its inherent authority to reconsider its interlocutory orders because such orders may be revised at any time before the Court enters a final judgment. See Moses H. Cone Mem. Hosp. v. Mercury Const. Corp., 460 U.S. 1, 12, 103 S.Ct. 927, 74 L.Ed.2d 765 (1983) ("every order short of a final decree is subject to reopening at the discretion of the district judge"); Sims v. EGA Prods., Inc., 475 F.3d 865, 870 (7th Cir. 2007) ("non-final orders are generally modifiable"). Motions for reconsideration under Rule 54(b) serve the limited function of correcting manifest errors of law or fact. See Rothwell Cotton Co. v. Rosenthal & Co., 827 F.2d 246, 251 (7th Cir. 1987); Zurich Capital Mkt., Inc. v. Coglianese, 383 F.Supp.2d 1041, 1045 (N.D. Ill. 2005). "A manifest error is not demonstrated by the disappointment of the losing party." Oto v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 224 F.3d 601, 606 (7th Cir. 2000) (internal quotation marks omitted). In addition, a motion for reconsideration "is not appropriately used to advance arguments or theories that could and should have been made before the district court rendered a judgment." County of McHenry v. Insurance Co. of the West, 438 F.3d 813, 819 (7th Cir. 2006). Whether to grant a motion for reconsideration is "entrusted to the sound judgment of the district court." Matter of Prince, 85 F.3d 314, 324 (7th Cir. 1996); see also United States v. Resnick, 594 F.3d 562, 568 (7th Cir. 2010).

BACKGROUND

The Court denied Dominick's summary judgment motion concluding that Plaintiff Noel Uvalle had presented sufficient evidence from which a jury could reasonably find that the Town of Cicero and Dominick terminated his employment based on his political affiliation due to the suspicious timing of his termination and certain Cicero Voters Alliance ("CVA") members' statements and conduct.

ANALYSIS

I. Factual Errors

In his motion for reconsideration, Dominick maintains that the Court made improper inferences and relied upon inadmissible hearsay in concluding that Dominick had knowledge of Uvalle's political affiliation, namely, that he supported another candidate for Town President in the February 2009 election, and that Uvalle's support of Roberto Garcia was the cause of his termination. To start, Dominick argues that -- although properly disputed -- the Court should not have relied upon the fact that: "Dominick, the head of the CVA, told CVA members at a December 2008 meeting that if he found out any Cicero employees supported the other side in the February 2009 election, the employee should look for another job and that Dominick would find out about it." (R. 106, Mem, Op, & Order, at 8.) Citing a 1992 Seventh Circuit case, Dominick explains that this fact is not relevant to the outcome of the case, and thus is not material. See First Indiana Bank v. Baker, 957 F.2d 506, 508 (7th Cir. 1992) ("[o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment. Factual disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be counted.") (citation omitted). This fact, however, is highly relevant because it goes directly to whether Dominick and the Town of Cicero terminated Uvalle based on his support of Garcia. In addition, this fact is relevant for background information leading up to the February 2009 Town President election and Dominick's knowledge of Uvalle's political affiliation because this statement put the attendees on notice that Dominick would find out if they worked for the other side during the February 2009 election.

Next, Dominick argues that the undisputed fact that he talked to CVA volunteer Alex Rueda about working on the Garcia campaign to get information does not imply that he had knowledge of Uvalle's political affiliation. Based on this fact and others in the record, as discussed below and in the Court's earlier order, it was reasonable for the Court to infer that Dominick had knowledge of Uvalle's political affiliation because the facts supporting this inference were not based on speculation or conjecture, but instead, were based on evidence in the record. See Singer v. Raemisch, 593 F.3d 529, 533 (7th Cir. 2010); Trade Fin. Partners, LLC v. AAR Corp., 573 F.3d 401, 406-07 (7th Cir. 2009). Dominick also points to his response to Uvalle's Local Rule 56.1 Statement in support his argument, but as the Court made clear in its earlier order, the ...


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