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Young-Gibson v. Board of Education of The City of Chicago

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

August 28, 2013

DARREYL YOUNG-GIBSON, Plaintiff,
v.
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

VIRGINIA M. KENDALL, District Judge.

Plaintiff Darreyl Young-Gibson requests that the Court vacate its June 4, 2013 Memorandum Opinion and Order granting Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, take additional testimony, amend its findings of fact and conclusions of law or make new ones, and direct the entry of a new finding of summary judgment in her favor. For the reasons stated below the Court denies Young-Gibson's Motions and strikes as moot her amended response to summary judgment.

BACKGROUND

Young-Gibson filed suit against Defendant Board of Education of the City of Chicago (the "Board") pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by 42 U.S.C. ยง 2000e et seq. Young-Gibson, the former principal of Percy Julian High School ("Julian") in Chicago, Illinois, was reassigned from her position on April 2009 and subsequently terminated from her employment. In her Complaint, Young-Gibson alleged the Board terminated her because of her race and gender (Count I), and retaliated against her for opposing discrimination by rescinding the suspension of a fellow Julian employee (Count II). On June 4, 2013, the Court granted the Board's Motion for Summary Judgment on both counts, finding that Young-Gibson had failed to establish a prima facie case for race and gender discrimination under Title VII. Young-Gibson v. Board of Educ. of City of Chicago, No. 11 C 8982, 2013 WL 2451157, at *11 (N.D. Ill. June 4, 2013). Specifically, the Court held that (1) "Young-Gibson's repeated insubordination and failure to implement her supervisor's directives, all of which were documented and led to actual disciplinary proceedings, demonstrate[d] that [she] did not meet the Board's legitimate employment expectations"; and (2) Young-Gibson had failed to identify a similarly situated employees outside of her protected class who was treated better than her. Id. at *11-14. The Court also found that Young-Gibson had failed to show that the Board's stated reason for terminating her was pretext for discrimination. Id. at *14. With respect to Count II, the Court held that Young-Gibson's attempt to rescind the suspension of a Julian employee and decision to send special education staff members to a conference using discretionary funds did not constitute protected activity and thus could not form the bases of a retaliation claim. Id. at *16. The Court also found that Young-Gibson had failed to show any causal connection between the filing of her charge with the Illinois Department of Human Rights alleging discrimination and her reassignment or termination. Id. at *16-17.

Young-Gibson timely filed a Notice of Appeal on July 1, 2013. (Dkt. 64.) Subsequently, she filed a Motion to Amend the Memorandum Opinion and Order, (Dkt. 69); an Amended Response in Opposition to the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 71) with accompanying exhibits and a Local Rule 56.1 Statement, (Dkts. 71-72); and a Motion for a New Trial or to Alter or Amend the Judgment pursuant to Rule 59, (Dkt. 79.)

DISCUSSION

Young-Gibson filed her Motion to Amend the Memorandum and Opinion Order pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 52(b) and her Motion for a New Trial or to Alter or Amend the Judgment pursuant to Rule 59. However, motions under Rule 52(b) are typically filed after a bench trial. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 52(a), (b). As there has been no bench trial in this case, Rule 52 does not apply. Accordingly, the Court considers both motions under Rule 59(e). See St. Mary's Hosp. Medical Center v. Heckler, 753 F.2d 1362, 1365 (7th Cir. 1985) (the fact that the Defendant "fashioned her motion as falling within Fed.R.Civ.P. 52(b) rather than Rule 59(e)... "is not dispositive. Any motion that draws into question the correctness of the judgment is functionally a motion under Civil Rule 59(e), whatever its label.") (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).

I. Jurisdiction

As a preliminary matter, the Court must address its jurisdiction to decide Young-Gibson's motions. Ordinarily, the filing of a notice of appeal "divests the district court of its control over those aspects of the case involved in the appeal." Griggs v. Provident Consumer Discount Co., 459 U.S. 56, 58 (1982); May v. Sheahan, 226 F.3d 876, 879 (7th Cir. 2000). However, where a party files a timely notice of appeal and a timely Rule 59(e) motion, the notice becomes effective only after the Court has disposed of the Rule 59(e) motion. See Fed. R.App. P. 4(a)(4)(B)(i); see Katerinos v. United States Dep't of Treasury, 368 F.3d 733, 737 (7th Cir. 2004). The advisory committee notes to the 1993 amendments to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4 make clear that this holds true regardless of whether the Rule 59(e) motion is filed before or after the notice of appeal:

A notice filed before the filing of [a Rule 59(e) motion to alter or amend a judgment] or after the filing of a motion but before disposition of the motion is, in effect, suspended until the motion is disposed of, whereupon, the previously filed notice effectively places jurisdiction in the court of appeals.

Fed. R.App. P. 4 advisory committee's note to 1993 amendment (emphasis added).[1] Accordingly, the Court retains jurisdiction to decide Young-Gibson's Rule 59 motions.

II. Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment

"Once judgment has been entered, there is a presumption that the case is finished, and the burden is on the party who wants to upset that judgment to show the court that there is good reason to set it aside." Hecker v. Deere & Co., 556 F.3d 575, 591 (7th Cir. 2009). Under Rule 59(e), the Court may alter or amend its judgment if the movant "clearly establish[es]' (1) that the court committed a manifest error of law or fact, or (2) that newly discovered evidence precluded entry of judgment." Blue v. Hartford Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 698 F.3d 587, 598 (7th Cir. 2012) (quoting Harrington v. City of Chicago, 433 F.3d 542, 546 (7th Cir. 2006)); see also Miller v. Safeco Ins. Co. of Am., 683 F.3d 805, 813 (7th Cir. 2012) (motion to amend or alter judgment appropriate where movant "presents newly discovered evidence that was not available at the time of trial or if the movant points to evidence in the record that clearly establishes manifest error of law or fact"). This rule "enables the court to correct its own errors and thus avoid unnecessary appellate procedures." Miller, 683 F.3d at 813 (quoting Moro v. Shell Oil Co., 91 F.3d 872, 876 (7th Cir. 1996)). However, such motions are not appropriate vehicles for relitigating arguments that the district court previously rejected, or for arguing issues or presenting evidence that could have bene raised during the pendency of the motion presently under reconsideration. Sigworth v. City of Aurora, 487 F.3d 506, 512 (7th Cir. 2007). Whether to grant a motion to alter or amend judgment under Rule 59 is squarely within the Court's discretion and will only be disturbed for an abuse of discretion. Caisse Nationale de Credit Agricole v. CBI Indus., Inc., 90 F.3d 1264, 1270 (7th Cir. 1996); LB Credit Corp. v. Resolution Trust Corp., 49 F.3d 1263, 1267 (7th Cir. 1995) (citations omitted).

Young-Gibson's first and second bases for reconsideration purport to identify errors in the Court's recitation of the facts of this case. Specifically, Young-Gibson takes issue with the Court's use of the word "also" in reference to her 20-day suspension in February 2008. In describing ...


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