United States District Court, D. Connecticut
R. UNDERHILL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
plaintiff, Erin McGuire, brings this gender/sex
discrimination action against the Town of Stratford,
Connecticut ("the Town"), under Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e,
et seq. McGuire brought the following causes of
action against the Town: Sexual Harassment/Prima
Facie Gender Discrimination (Count One); Hostile Work
Environment (Count Two); Title VII Retaliation (Count Three);
and Negligent Supervision (Count Four). (doc. 1) On September
4, 2015, the Town filed an answer with counterclaims against
McGuire for conversion, statutory theft under Conn. Gen.
Stat. § 52-564, and unjust enrichment. (doc. 48) On
October 13, 2015, McGuire moved to dismiss the counterclaims
for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. (doc. 53) On January
15, 2016, I denied McGuire‘s motion for reasons stated
on the record. McGuire has now moved for reconsideration of
my ruling. (doc. 67)
following reasons, McGuire‘s motion is denied.
Standard of Review
standard for granting motions for reconsideration is strict;
motions for reconsideration "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." Shrader v. CSX Transp., Inc., 70
F.3d 255, 257 (2d Cir. 1995). Motions for reconsideration
will not be granted where the party merely seeks to
relitigate an issue that has already been decided.
Id. The three major grounds for granting a motion
for reconsideration in the Second Circuit are: (1) an
intervening change of controlling law, (2) the availability
of new evidence, or (3) the need to correct a clear error or
prevent manifest injustice. Virgin Atlantic Airways, Ltd.
v. Nat’l Mediation Bd., 956 F.2d 1245, 1255 (2d
Cir. 1992) (citing 18 Charles A. Wright, Arthur R. Miller &
Edward H. Cooper, Federal Practice & Procedure
following factual allegations are set forth in
McGuire‘s Consolidated Complaint. The Town hired
McGuire as an Information Technology ("IT")
Services Manager within the Town‘s IT Department on
January 29, 2001. Consol. Compl. ¶ 12. Beginning in
October, 2013, McGuire alleges that, beginning in October
2013, she was subjected to a campaign of sexual harassment by
Thomas Eckels, a co-worker. Id. at ¶ 13. On May
16, 1014, after unsuccessful attempts to resolve the problem,
McGuire was "constructively discharged" and forced
to resign due to the harassment. Id. at ¶ 26.
answer, the Town asserted state-law counterclaims of
conversion, statutory theft, and unjust enrichment against
McGuire. Those counterclaims were based on an allegation
that, beginning as early as the fall of 2013, McGuire had
been removing and selling computer equipment owned by the
Town without permission. Consol. Ans. at ¶ 1-7.
moves for reconsideration of my previous ruling on two
grounds: (1) the Town‘s counterclaims, which she argues
are permissive, seek affirmative relief in addition to a
damages set-off, and therefore must be supported by
independent jurisdiction in order for me to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction over them; and (2) in a
substantially similar argument to that in her initial motion,
she asserts that a defendant cannot assert a
counterclaim sounding in tort against a Title VII plaintiff.
courts may exercise supplemental jurisdiction over state law
claims when authorized by 28 U.S.C. § 1367. Section
1367(a) states that a district court may exercise
supplemental jurisdiction over "all other claims that
are so related to the claims in the action within such
original jurisdiction that they form part of the same case or
controversy." "A state law claim forms part of the
same controversy if it and the federal claim derive from a
common nucleus of operative fact." Briarpatch Ltd.,
L.P v. Phoenix Pictures, Inc., 373 F.3d 296, 308 (2d
Cir. 2004) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
"In determining whether two disputes arise from a common
nucleus of operative fact, " courts query "whether
the facts underlying the federal and state claims
substantially overlapped or the federal claim necessarily
brought the facts underlying the state claim before the
court." Ozawa v. Orsini Design Associates,
Inc., 2015 WL 1055902, at *11 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 11, 2015)
(quoting Achtman v. Kirby, McInerny & Squire, LLP,
464 F.3d 328, 335 (2d Cir. 2006)).
initial motion, McGuire argued that the counterclaims do not
meet the case-or-controversy standard because they arise from
completely different fact patterns during a completely
different time period, and because they do not provide the
basis for any of the Town‘s defenses to
liability. I ruled that, because the counterclaims
involve after-acquired evidence that would have provided the
basis for termination once discovered and accordingly provide
a defense to McGuire‘s damages claims, they
are part of the instant case or controversy. That ruling was
based on several after-acquired evidence cases, see Klein
v. London Star Ltd., 26 F.Supp.2d 689 (S.D.N.Y. 1998);
Deshaw v. Lord & Taylor, Div. of May Dep’t Stores
Co., 1991 WL 107271 (S.D.N.Y. June 13, 1991); and
Ginsberg v. Valhalla Anesthesia Associates, P.C.,
971 F.Supp. 144 (S.D.N.Y. 1997); as well as my observation
that there does not appear to be any principled basis in the
section 1367(a) case-or-controversy definition itself that
would grant federal jurisdiction over a counterclaim that was
identical to a defense against liability, but not over a
counterclaim identical to a defense against damages.
first attempts to relitigate the question whether the court
may exercise supplemental jurisdiction over counterclaims
arising out of after-acquired evidence in the employment
context. She relies heavily on Weber v. Fujifilm Med.
Sys. U.S.A., Inc., 2011 WL 781172 (D. Conn. Feb. 28,
2011), and Spencer v. Banco Real, S.A., 623 F.Supp.
1008 (S.D.N.Y. 1985), both cases to which she cited in her
initial motion. See Pl.‘s Mot. to Dismiss Br.
at 4; Pl.‘s Mot. to Dismiss Reply Br. at 5. She has not
pointed to any controlling or significant case law that I
overlooked in my initial ruling, but I will nevertheless
articulate my reasoning more fully here.
Deshaw v. Lord & Taylor, an age-discrimination case
based on actual termination, a Southern District of New York
court exercised supplemental jurisdiction over the
defendant‘s counterclaim for actions taken by the
plaintiffs against the defendant‘s business interests
during his employment. 1991 WL 107271, at *4. Importantly,
the defendant in that case, like the Town in the present
case, argued that the after-acquired evidence that formed the
basis of the counterclaims would also have constituted
sufficient grounds for termination. Id. The
Deshaw court reasoned that because any discovery
pertinent to the counterclaims would accordingly be relevant
to the primary claim, the counterclaims could be heard.
Id. at *5. That reasoning is compelling to me. And
McGuire herself provides the basis for such reasoning where
she correctly points out that the after-acquired evidence
doctrine permits the Town to enter into the case-in-chief the
same underlying facts that give rise to the counterclaims.
See Pl.‘s Br. at 7. That ...