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Hannah v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

June 2, 2016

KIM HANNAH, THOMAS IRVING, and MICHAEL BARHAM, Plaintiffs,
v.
WAL-MART STORES, INC. and WAL-MART STORES EAST, L.P., Defendants.

          RULING ON MOTIONS FOR RECONSIDERATION

          VICTOR A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On February 11, 2016, the Court issued an order granting in part and denying in part Wal-Mart’s Motion for Summary Judgment and denying Wal-Mart’s Motion to Sever (the "Order"). ECF No. 255. Plaintiffs and Wal-Mart move for reconsideration of the Order under D. Conn. L. Civ. R. 7(c).[1] For the reasons that follow, Wal-Mart’s motion is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART and Plaintiffs’ motion is DENIED.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The standard for reviewing a motion for reconsideration is "strict." Shrader v. CSX Transp., Inc., 70 F.3d 255, 257 (2d Cir. 1995). "[R]econsideration will generally be denied unless the moving party can point to controlling decisions or data that the court overlooked- matters, in other words, that might reasonably be expected to alter the conclusion reached by the court." Id. "In order to prevent ‘wasteful repetition of arguments already briefed, considered and decided, ’ a motion for reconsideration is granted only in a narrow range of circumstances." Martin v. Dupont Flooring Sys., Inc., No. Civ. A. 3:01-cv-02189 (SRU), 2004 WL 1171208, at *1 (D. Conn. May 25, 2004) (quoting Schonberger v. Serchuk, 742 F.Supp. 108, 119 (S.D.N.Y. 1990)). The major grounds justifying reconsideration are: "(1) an intervening change in the law; (2) the availability of new evidence not previously available; or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice." Id. (citing Doe v. New York City Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 709 F.2d 782, 789 (2d Cir. 1983)).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Wal-Mart’s Motion for Reconsideration (ECF No. 271)

         First, Wal-Mart argues that the Court overlooked its legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for not rehiring Plaintiffs. Wal-Mart quotes in bold letters an excerpt from page thirteen of its reply brief that, it claims, "the Court failed to acknowledge": "amongst the dozens of internal and external applicants for those positions, the [sic] recruiters and managers involved with the selection process found other candidates to be more qualified." Defs.’ Mem. Supp. Mot. Reconsider. at 3.

         The Court did not "fail[] to acknowledge" this explanation, it quoted it. Order at 22 ("In its reply memorandum, Wal-Mart asserted that ‘the recruiters and managers involved with the selection process found other candidates to be more qualified, ’ but does not cite evidence showing that recruiters and managers determined that the successful candidates were more qualified than Plaintiffs for the relevant positions. See Reply at 13."). The Court then explained that it reviewed all of the evidence to which Wal-Mart’s memorandum and reply cited in connection with this proffered explanation, and none of that evidence showed that Wal-Mart chose the successful candidates over Plaintiffs because of qualifications. Id. at 22-23.

         Notably, Wal-Mart did not assert that it "found other candidates to be more qualified" until its reply memorandum, to which Plaintiffs had no opportunity to respond. Defs.’ Reply at 13, ECF No. 238. Wal-Mart’s memorandum in support of its motion for summary judgment, to which Plaintiffs did have an opportunity to respond, stated its "reason" as follows: "Plaintiffs competed against hundreds of internal and external candidates for the positions they sought[, ]" saying nothing about qualifications. Defs.’ Mem. at 29, ECF No. 206. See Meiri v. Dacon, 759 F.2d 989, 997 (2d Cir. 1985) (noting that Title VII plaintiffs seeking to demonstrate pretext are "unfairly handicapped" when employers offer vague or conclusory reasons).

         With its motion for reconsideration, Wal-Mart makes a second attempt to articulate its legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason. See Defs.’ Mem. Supp. Mot. Reconsider. at 4-5. Reconsideration is denied on this basis. Shrader, 70 F.3d at 257 (motion for reconsideration is not a vehicle "to relitigate an issue already decided"); Analytical Surveys, Inc. v. Tonga Partners, L.P., 684 F.3d 36, 52 (2d Cir. 2012) (motion for reconsideration is not a vehicle for taking a "second bite at the apple") (internal quotation marks omitted).

         Second, Wal-Mart argues that Plaintiffs’ protected activity was too remote from Wal-Mart’s decisions not to rehire them, and therefore there is no prima facie inference of causal connection. The Court agrees with respect to Irving, and with respect to some of the failures to rehire Hannah and Barham, and therefore grants reconsideration in part.

         As noted in the Order, Irving applied to four MHRM positions after learning he would be displaced, and Wal-Mart filled only three of those positions. Order at 9. Those three positions were filled approximately 17, 20, and 22 months, respectively, after Irving’s CHRO complaint. See Ex. 22 to Motion to Sever at WLMT 003011, ECF No. 181-2. In deciding Wal-Mart’s Motion for Summary Judgment, the Court did not reference relevant documents (WLMT003011, WLMT003333) which Wal-Mart submitted as exhibits to its Motion to Sever but not its Motion for Summary Judgment. Compare ECF No. 181-2 and ECF No. 207-6. Wal-Mart, however, cited these documents in paragraphs of its Local Rule 56(a)1 Statement concerning the filling of positions to which Plaintiffs applied. See Defs.’ L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. ¶¶ 99, 102.

         Due to the temporal remoteness of Irving’s protected activity and Wal-Mart’s decisions not to rehire him, no prima facie inference of causal connection arises. See, e.g., Manessis v. N.Y.C. Dep’t of Transp., No. 02 Civ. 359 (SAS), 2003 WL 289969, at *14 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 10, 2003) (seventeen-month lapse was too remote to support a ...


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