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Delanoy v. Township of Ocean

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

May 12, 2015

KATHLEEN J. DELANOY, Plaintiff,
v.
TOWNSHIP OF OCEAN, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

DOUGLAS E. ARPERT, Magistrate Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on a Motion by Plaintiff for reconsideration of the Court's September 30, 2014 Order [Dkt. No. 39], which denied Motions filed by Plaintiff seeking: (1) Leave to file an Amended Complaint [Dkt. No. 30]; and (2) an Order compelling discovery from Defendants and extending the discovery period [Dkt. No. 31].[1] See Dkt. No. 40. Defendants oppose Plaintiff's Motion [Dkt. No. 42].[2] For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's Motion for reconsideration [Dkt. No. 40] is DENIED.

I. BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff's Complaint was originally filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Monmouth County, Law Division on January 22, 2013. See Dkt. No. 1, Ex. A. Defendants removed the action to this Court on March 13, 2013. See Dkt. No. 1. In her Complaint, Plaintiff, a Police Officer employed by Defendant the Township of Ocean (the "Township"), alleges that she suffered discrimination and retaliation as a result of her pregnancy.

Since the parties are intimately familiar with the facts pertaining to Plaintiff's pending Motion for reconsideration, the Court will not recite them at length. The Court's initial Pretrial Scheduling Order stated that any "motion to amend the pleadings or join new parties... must be filed by August 30, 2013." See Dkt. No. 6. Thereafter, the Court provided Plaintiff with several extensions of this deadline. See Dkt. Nos. 7 and 9. On December 23, 2013, the Court entered an Amended Scheduling Order, which set a final deadline for filing any "motion to amend the pleadings or join new parties" of March 1, 2014. See Dkt. No. 14. On April 28, 2014, only two days before the end of discovery, Plaintiff filed a Motion for leave to amend her Complaint to name eight additional defendants. See Dkt. No. 30. In support of her Motion to amend, Plaintiff stated that discovery had revealed that each of the proposed additional defendants "were provided with notice of [P]laintiff's claim of discrimination and failed to investigate or otherwise take appropriate action." Id. at p. 2.

The Court denied Plaintiff's Motion to amend for two reasons. First, the Court noted that despite being granted several extensions, Plaintiff had "unaccecptably failed to adhere to the discovery deadlines set forth in the Scheduling Order" and had "inexplicably failed to request an extension of the March 1, 2014 deadline prior to filing her Motion to Amend." Dkt. No. 39 at p. 6-7. Accordingly, because "Plaintiff did not set forth any justification for the late filing of her amended pleading", the Court found that Plaintiff failed to show good cause for her delay in moving to amend under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b). Id. at p. 7. In addition to finding that Plaintiff failed to demonstrate good cause for her lack of compliance with the Court's Amended Scheduling Order, the Court found that "the lengthy gap between when Plaintiff knew the information necessary to amend her pleadings, and when she attempted to do so, constituted undue delay'" in violation of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15. Id. Second, the Court noted that in addition to being untimely, Plaintiff's proposed amendments were likely futile "because the claims against the newly named individual defendants proposed to be joined in this lawsuit are time-barred by the applicable statute of limitations." Id.

Two days after filing her Motion to amend, Plaintiff filed a Motion to compel discovery from Defendants and to extend the discovery period. See Dkt. No. 31. In her Motion, Plaintiff argued that discovery had revealed facts indicating that other instances of discrimination had taken place, and that Defendants refused to produce discovery on these issues because the requested documents were subject to the attorney-client privilege.

The Court denied Plaintiff's Motion to compel finding that the arguments set forth by Plaintiff were "vague and unsupported by specific references to the record." Dkt. No. 39 at p. 12. The Court noted that with respect to the materials sought by Plaintiff related to investigations into other incidences of discrimination, "Defendants have produced the relevant materials in their possession, and have not committed any wrongdoing in the discovery process." Id. Turning to Plaintiff's Motion to extend discovery, based on the agreement of the parties, the Court allowed Plaintiff an extension of time to obtain an expert report.

II. DISCUSSION

Local Civil Rule 7.1(i) governs motions for reconsideration. Agostino v. Quest Diagnostics, Inc., Civ. No. 04-4362, 2010 WL 5392688, *5 (D.N.J. Dec. 22, 2010) (citing Bryan v. Shah, 351 F.Supp.2d 295, 297 (D.N.J. 2005)). Local Civil Rule 7.1(i) permits a party to seek reconsideration by the Court of a matter which the party believes the Judge "overlooked" when it ruled on the motion. A motion for reconsideration under Rule 7.1(i) "shall be served and filed within 14 days after the entry of the order or judgment on the original motion by the Judge" and submitted with a "brief setting forth concisely the matter or controlling decisions which the party believes the Judge... has overlooked." L. Civ. R. 7.1(i).

The standard for reargument is high and reconsideration is to be granted only sparingly. United States v. Jones, 158 F.R.D. 309, 314 (D.N.J. 1994). A judgment may be altered or amended under Rule 7.1(i) if the movant shows at least one of the following grounds: "(1) an intervening change in the controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence that was not available when the court [issued its order]; or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or fact to prevent manifest injustice. Max's Seafood Cafe v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 667 (3d Cir. 1999) (citing N. River Ins. Co. v. CIGNA Reinsurance Co., 52 F.3d 1194, 1218 (3d Cir. 1995)). The Court will grant a motion for reconsideration only if its prior decision overlooked a factual or legal issue that may alter the disposition of the matter. Compaction Sys. Corp., 88 F.Supp.2d at 345.

A party seeking to introduce new evidence on reconsideration bears the burden of first demonstrating that the evidence was unavailable or unknown at the time of the original hearing. See Levinson v. Regal Ware, Inc., Civ. No. 89-1298, 1989 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18373, at *3 (D.N.J. Dec. 1, 1989). "Reconsideration motions... may not be used to re-litigate old matters, or to raise arguments or present evidence that could have been raised prior to the entry of the judgment." NL Industries, Inc. v. Commercial Union Ins. Co., 935 F.Supp. 513, 516 (D.N.J. 1996). In other words, "[a] motion for reconsideration should not provide the parties with an opportunity for a second bite at the apple." Tishcio v. Bontex, Inc., 16 F.Supp.2d 511, 533 (D.N.J. 1998) (citation omitted).

A. Plaintiff's Motion to Amend

In Plaintiff's Motion for reconsideration of the Court's Order denying her Motion for leave to file an Amended Complaint, Plaintiff claims that the delay in moving to amend her Complaint was caused by a delay in the depositions of several witnesses until April of 2014. According to Plaintiff, the depositions taken in April 2014 revealed "facts regarding those responsible for promulgating and maintaining the policies of [the Township]" and alerted Plaintiff for the first time who ...


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