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Solman v. Corl

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

November 10, 2016

VANCE SOLMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
E. CORL, et al., Defendants.

          RULING ON MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION (DOC. NO. 38)

          Janet C. Hall United States District Judge

         The plaintiff, Vance Solman ("Solman"), is incarcerated at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, Connecticut ("MacDougall-Walker"). He initiated this action by filing a complaint under section 1983 of title 42 against Captain E. Corl, Industry Manager Peter Casey, Industry Supervisor Tom Morassini[1] and Industry Supervisor Spaar.[2]

         I. Introduction

         On February 25, 2016, the court dismissed the claims for monetary damages against all defendants in their official capacities pursuant to section 1915A(b)(2) of title 28 and all claims against defendant Casey, the Fifth Amendment claims, the Fourteenth Amendment claims, the First Amendment retaliation claim against defendant Spaar, the First Amendment association claims, the Eighth Amendment claims, any claims asserted or relief requested on behalf of Solman's wife or sons and all state law claims pursuant to section 1915A(b)(1) of title 28. See Initial Review Order (Doc. No. 7). The court concluded that the First Amendment retaliation claims against defendants Corl and Morassini in their individual and official capacities would proceed. See id.

         Discovery closed in this action on August 25, 2016. The deadline for filing motions for summary judgment is January 6, 2017. See Rul. Mot. Compel (Doc. No. 39).

         Solman has filed a motion for reconsideration pursuant to Rule 60(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.[3] He asks the court to re-instate the retaliation claim against Supervisor Spaar based on evidence that he recently received from the defendants that he claims demonstrates that Supervisor Spaar was responsible for terminating him from his position in the upholstery shop and knew that he had filed a legal action prior to his termination from the job.

         II. Legal Standard

         Rule 60(b) motions for relief from a judgment or order are generally not favored and will not be granted unless the moving party demonstrates the existence of "exceptional circumstances." Ruotolo v. City of New York, 514 F.3d 184, 191 (2d Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Rule 60(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a court may "relieve a party . . . from a final judgment, order or proceeding for. . . (2) newly discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence, could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b)) The standard under Rule 60(b)(2) is "onerous." United States v. Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters, 247 F.3d 370, 392 (2d Cir. 2001). To prevail on a motion for relief pursuant to Rule 60(b)(2), a movant must demonstrate that he was "justifiably ignorant" of the newly discovered evidence "despite due diligence" prior to the order of dismissal and that the new evidence was of "such importance that it probably would have changed the outcome." Id.

         III. Discussion

         With regard to defendant Spaar, Solman asserted the following allegations in the Complaint. On February 14, 2013, Solman began to work in the Correctional Enterprises of Connecticut upholstery shop at MacDougall-Walker. See Compl. (Doc. No. 1) at 9, ¶12. He understood that he must complete a ninety-day probationary period in order to be assigned to a permanent job in the upholstery shop. See Id. at 11, ¶¶ 25-26.

         At the time Solman began his probationary period, he was represented by counsel in a civil rights action against state correctional officers. See Solman v. Manzi, Case No. 3:10-cv-729(SRU). On April 5, 2013, the attorneys in Solman's civil action informed the judge that they had reached a settlement agreement. See Id. (Doc. No. 110). On April 10, 2013, Solman informed Supervisor Morassini that the case had settled. See Compl. (Doc. No. 1) at 10, ¶22.

         On May 20, 2013, Solman received a poor work evaluation issued by Supervisor Morassini. See Id. at 11, ¶ 25. Supervisor Spaar signed off on the poor work report even though Solman claimed that she had previously informed him that she had been pleased with his work. See Id. Officials extended Solman's probationary period for sixty days. See Id. ¶26.

         On June 5, 2013, Supervisor Spaar allegedly informed Solman that his work performance was much better. See id, ¶ 27. On that same date, the attorneys who represented the defendants and Solman in his federal civil rights action signed a stipulation of dismissal pursuant to the settlement agreement and filed the stipulation with the court. See Solman v. Manzi, Case No. 3:10-cv-729(SRU) (Doc. No. 112).

         On June 18, 2013, Supervisor Morassini informed Solman that he was being fired from his position in the upholstery shop. See Compl. (Doc. No. 1) at 11, ¶ 28. On August 23, 2013, prison officials assigned Solman to "very coveted job" in the gymnasium at MacDougall/Walker. SeeId. ΒΆ 30. Solman claimed that Supervisors Morassini and Spaar fired him from his job in the upholstery shop in retaliation for settling a civil rights action against the Department of Correction. As indicated above, the court dismissed the retaliation ...


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