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Sarmiento v. Montclair State Univ.

September 4, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: William J. Martini Judge



Dear Counsel:

This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration of this Court's May 9, 2007 Opinion and Order granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant Montclair State University ("MSU"). For the reasons expressed herein, Plaintiff's motion is DENIED.


Pro se Plaintiff Esteban E. Sarmiento, a Hispanic male with a Ph.D. in Physical Anthropology, brought an employment discrimination action against MSU based on the university's decision not to hire Plaintiff for a tenure-track position as Assistant Professor of Biological Anthropology. (Compl. ¶¶ 8-11, 14.) Plaintiff argued that race, color and national origin discrimination played a role in MSU's decision, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"). This Court granted summary judgment in favor of MSU, finding that the factual issues raised by the plaintiff did not provide sufficient evidence to allow a reasonable juror to conclude that MSU's proffered reasons for Plaintiff's non-selection were a pretext for discrimination. Sarmiento v. Montclair State Univ., No. 04-4176, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33969, at **63-64 (D.N.J. May 9, 2007).

On May 14, 2007, Plaintiff filed a Notice of Appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, requesting review of this Court's grant of summary judgment. Plaintiff then filed the instant Motion for Reconsideration with this Court on May 30, 2007.


In defending against summary judgment, Plaintiff argued that the discrepancy between his credentials and those of the three finalists who were interviewed for the position he sought was so great that it could bear the entire burden of allowing this Court to find that a reasonable trier of fact to conclude that MSU's explanations were pretextual.*fn1 In support of this argument, Plaintiff relied heavily on a document purporting to be an expert report. In that report, Columbia University professor Ralph Holloway evaluated Plaintiff's qualifications relative to those of the other applicants, and concluded that "there is no clear objective reason" why Plaintiff was not brought in to interview, why he was not ranked above the three finalists, and why he was not offered the position.

This Court found that even if it were inclined to conclude that Dr. Holloway's report was relevant, the report was not competent evidence for several reasons. We noted that in addition to the report's failure to meet the technical requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e), neither Plaintiff's affidavit nor Dr. Holloway's report gave any indication that Dr. Holloway was competent to render an opinion on the matters discussed in the report. See Sarmiento, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33969, at *25 n.6. Dr. Holloway merely identified himself as a Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University, and noted that his opinions were rendered "[b]ased upon [his] expertise," without any further information about his relevant experience or qualifications. See id.

Plaintiff now offers Dr. Holloway's curriculum vitae ("CV"), which Plaintiff contends he inadvertently left out of his papers opposing summary judgment. (Pl.'s Br. 2.) Plaintiff argues that his pro se status and lack of familiarity with the rules of the court are "excusable neglect" within the meaning of Rule 60(b). Plaintiff also contends that the expert's CV was already a part of the record before the Court, because it was submitted to the Magistrate Judge and to the Defendant in a timely manner during the discovery period; that the Defendant did not object to the submission of the expert's report; and that the Defendant elected not to depose Dr. Holloway. (Pl.'s Br. 2.) Plaintiff now asks this Court to accept Dr. Holloway's expert report as competent evidence, and to reconsider whether summary judgment in favor of MSU remains appropriate.

For the reasons discussed in detail below, this Court must reject Plaintiff's motion on multiple, independent grounds.

I. Plaintiff's Motion is Procedurally Improper

Plaintiff's motion relies on Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b), which governs relief from judgments. Plaintiff's motion is captioned "Motion for Reconsideration," however, and is therefore addressed by Defendant under this District's Local Civil Rule 7.1(i) on motions for reconsideration. The Court need not determine how best to characterize ...

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