United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MICHAEL R. REINACHER, Plaintiff,
ALTON & SOUTHERN RAILWAY COMPANY, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
PHIL GILBERT DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on the timely motion of
plaintiff Michael R. Reinacher to alter or amend the judgment
in this case pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
59(e) or for a new trial pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 59(a)(1)(B) (Doc. 73). The Court also considers the
motion under other potentially applicable rules providing for
post-judgment relief. The defendant filed a Response in
Opposition (Doc. 74).
August 24, 2016, the Court entered judgment in this case
following rulings on dispositive motions and a bench trial on
the remaining issues. Mr. Reinacher now asks the Court to
alter that judgment and to grant him a new trial.
Specifically, Mr. Reinacher argues that several Findings of
Facts and Conclusion of Law require correction; that other
Findings of Facts and Conclusion of Law should be deleted or
removed as they are misleading or irrelevant; and that
applicable law requires judgment in favor of Mr. Reinacher.
Rule 59(e), the Court has an opportunity to consider newly
discovered material evidence or intervening changes in the
controlling law or to correct its own manifest errors of law
or fact to avoid unnecessary appellate procedures. Moro
v. Shell Oil Co., 91 F.3d 872, 876 (7th Cir. 1996);
see Harrington v. City of Chi., 433 F.3d 542, 546
(7th Cir. 2006). Rule 59(e) relief is only available if the
movant clearly establishes one of the foregoing grounds for
relief. Harrington, 433 F.3d at 546 (citing Romo
v. Gulf Stream Coach, Inc., 250 F.3d 1119, 1122 n. 3
(7th Cir. 2001)).
59(a)(1)(B) allows the Court to grant a new bench trial
“for any reason for which a rehearing has heretofore
been granted in a suit in equity in federal court.”
Those reasons include a manifest error of law or mistake of
fact, which must amount to a substantial reason. 11 Charles
Alan Wright et al., Federal Practice &
Procedure § 2804 (3d ed. Supp. 2016); Ball v.
Interoceanica Corp., 71 F.3d 73, 76 (2d Cir. 1995).
Alternatively, under Rule 59(a)(2), the Court has discretion
to “open the judgment if one has been entered, take
additional testimony, amend findings of fact and conclusions
of law or make new ones, and direct the entry of a new
judgment.” See e.g., Johnson v. Hix Wrecker Serv.,
Inc., 528 Fed. App'x 636, 639 (7th Cir. 2013). The
purpose of these rules is to allow the Court an opportunity
to correct its own mistakes to avoid unnecessary appellate
proceedings. See Russell v. Delco Remy Div. of Gen.
Motors Corp., 51 F.3d 746, 749 (7th Cir. 1995).
addition, Rule 52(b) allows the Court, in its discretion, to
“amend its findings - or make additional findings - and
. . . amend the judgment accordingly.” To obtain relief
under Rule 52(b), a party must “raise questions of
substance by seeking reconsideration of material findings of
fact or conclusions of law to prevent manifest injustice or
reflect newly discovered evidence.” 11 Charles Alan
Wright et al., Federal Practice &
Procedure § 2582 (3d ed. Supp. 2016). Rule 52(b)
does not provide an opportunity to relitigate a case, to
present new evidence that could have been presented before,
or to advance a new legal theory. Id.
first argument presented by Mr. Reinacher is that this
Court's finding of a single adverse employment action is
inconsistent with the undisputed testimony. This finding was
fully explained in the findings of fact. The Court
acknowledges that the testimony indicated that there were
changes in the length of the restrictions and percentile
risks of future seizures. However, as indicated in the
conclusions of law, the “continuing violation”
doctrine is limited to claims of hostile work environment and
Mr. Reinacher presents no intervening change in law.
Mr. Reinacher argues that Finding of Fact ¶ 43 is not
supported by the evidence. Specifically, the Court's
finding of fact of 76 percent chance of having a fourth
seizure is based on individuals not on anti-seizure
medication. The Court acknowledges that Dr. Holland's
testimony was based on cumulative risk without anti-seizure
medication as noted in the footnote to Finding of Fact ¶
41. Finding of Fact ¶ 43 was based on ¶ 41;
therefore, an additional footnote was not necessary to
indicate that the Court was aware of the basis of Dr.
Holland's statistical testimony.
Reinacher also argues that the Court is required to consider
all evidence and should not have disregarded evidence beyond
the determined adverse employment action date of December 8,
2011. Again, this finding was fully explained in the
Court's conclusions of law with regard to when the
discriminatory act occurred and whether Mr. Reinacher
presented a direct threat at that time. Mr. Reinacher
presents no intervening change in law that would require the
Court to alter its determination.
Reinacher is correct that the Court mistaking put
“2011” instead of “2009” in the
second full paragraph on page 15 with regard to the year of
plaintiff's accident. This conclusion was based on
Finding of Fact ¶ 12 which correctly stated that the
motor vehicle accident occurred on “November 15,
2009.” As such, it is not a manifest error of fact, but
simply a typographical error.
Mr. Reinacher's argument that the applicable law requires
judgment in his favor is not supported. Regardless of whether
the Court had added as a Finding of Fact that a neurologist
at Washington University opined that Mr. Reinacher's,
“prognosis for complete seizure control remains very
good, ” it would not change the judgment of this Court.
There would still remain, as the Court found, a risk of Mr.
Reinacher suffering another seizure while working in and
around live tracks. Even if the Court misconstrued the exact
percentile risk, the testimony indicated - and the ...