United States District Court, D. Connecticut
LENWORTH A. BUNTING, Plaintiff,
KELLOGG'S CORPORATION and MICHAEL GOSS Defendants.
ORDER ON MOTION FOR RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT
A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Bunting (“Plaintiff”), brought this lawsuit
against his former employer, Kellogg's Corporation
(“Defendant” or “Kellogg's”), and
Michael Goss, who was a Distribution Center Manager at
Kellogg's facility in Newington, CT during the times
relevant to this lawsuit. Mr. Bunting asserted two causes of
action against both defendants. He first alleged
discrimination on the basis of race in violation of Title VII
of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e,
et seq. (“Title VII”). He also alleged
that Defendants discriminated against him on the basis of his
age, in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
of 1967, as amended, 29 U.S.C. §§ 621, et
seq. (“the ADEA”).
September 30, 2016, this Court entered an Order granting
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. See
Order, ECF No. 53. Mr. Bunting has now moved for
reconsideration of the Court's decision under Rule 60(b).
Mot. for Reconsid., ECF No. 56. For the reasons
outlined below, Mr. Bunting's motion is DENIED.
Standard of Review
Rule 60(b), the Court may relieve a party from a final
judgment, order, or proceeding for, inter alia,
“mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect,
” Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(1), or “fraud,
misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party,
” Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(3). “The decision as to
whether relief should be granted under Rule 60(b) is
committed to the sound discretion of the Court. Stevens
v. Miller, 676 F.3d 62, 67 (2d Cir. 2012).
60(b) provides extraordinary relief, and a motion under Rule
60 should be granted only if the moving party demonstrates
“exceptional circumstances.” Paddington
Partners v. Bouchard, 34 F.3d 1132, 1142 (2d Cir.1993);
Motorola Credit Corp. v. Uzan, 561 F.3d 123, 126 (2d
Cir. 2009) (Rule 60(b) provides “a mechanism for
extraordinary judicial relief [available] only if the moving
party demonstrates exceptional circumstances, and relief
under the rule is discretionary.”) (internal citations
omitted). The Court, however, may assess a pro se
party's motion under Rule 60(b) using “a lesser
standard than [a motion] drafted by lawyers, ” as it
would assess any pro se pleading. Matura v.
United States, 189 F.R.D. 86, 89 (S.D.N.Y. 1999)
determination of whether a party's neglect is
“excusable” under Rule 60(b)(1) is “at
bottom an equitable one, taking account of all relevant
circumstances surrounding the party's omission.”
Pioneer Inv. Servs. Co. v. Brunswick Assocs. Ltd.
P'ship, 507 U.S. 380, 395 (1993). These
circumstances include “the danger of prejudice to the
[other party], the length of the delay and its potential
impact on judicial proceedings, the reason for the delay,
including whether it was within the reasonable control of the
movant, and whether the movant acted in good faith.”
Id. Ordinarily, ignorance of the rules or mistakes
construing the rules do not constitute
“excusable” neglect. Id. at 392.
However, “neglect may be excusable where the language
of a rule is ambiguous or susceptible to multiple
interpretations, or where an apparent conflict exists between
two rules.” Canfield v. Van Atta Buick/GMC Truck,
Inc., 127 F.3d 248, 250 (2d Cir. 1997).
60(b)(3) allows for relief from judgment when the movant
presents evidence of “fraud (whether heretofore
denominated intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or
other misconduct of an adverse party.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
60(b)(3); Matura, 189 F.R.D. at 89. To prevail on a
Rule 60(b)(3) motion, a movant “must show that the
conduct complained of prevented [him] from fully and fairly
representing his case.” State St. Bank & Trust
Co. v. Inversiones Errazuriz Limitada, 374 F.3d 158, 176
(2d Cir. 2004) (internal quotation marks and citation
omitted). “However, a Rule 60(b)(3) motion cannot be
granted absent clear and convincing evidence of material
misrepresentations and cannot serve as an attempt to
relitigate the merits [of the underlying decision].”
Fleming v. N.Y. Univ., 865 F.2d 478, 484 (2d Cir.
Bunting brought this case pro se on May 5, 2014,
challenging Defendants' failure to hire him for a
position as a “Warehouse Manager” at
Kellogg's. See Compl., ECF No. 1. On February
24, 2016, Defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that
neither Mr. Bunting's race nor his age played a role in
their decision to reject his application for the position.
See Motion, ECF No. 35. Defendants pointed to record
evidence that Mr. Bunting's application was rejected
because he was less qualified than Bradley Linnell, the
external candidate who was eventually hired as Warehouse
Manager. In his opposition to Defendants' motion for
summary judgment, Mr. Bunting identified several procedural
irregularities in the hiring process, and argued that he was
not given the opportunity to compete in the selection process
because he was not offered the opportunity to do a
“panel interview” while Mr. Linnell was.
September 30, 2016, the Court granted Defendants' motion
for summary judgment. The Court concluded that Mr. Bunting
failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to
whether the legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason proffered by
Kellogg's for its hiring decision-the superior
qualification of Mr. Linnell-was pretextual. See
Order, 12. The Court found no evidence to suggest that
Defendants failed to interview Mr. Bunting because of his
race, or for any reason besides their preference for Mr.
Linnell's experience and education. Id.
Specifically, the Court noted that Mr. Bunting had not
provided any information to suggest that the alleged flaws in
Defendants' hiring process were
“racially-motivated, ” and that there was
“nothing in the record about the race of any of the
other applicants and their treatment in the process, much
less whether any of the other applicants were the same race
as Mr. Bunting or the same race as Mr. Linnell.”
Id. at 11-12. The Court granted summary judgment on
Mr. Bunting's claim under the ADEA because the record
revealed that he had not exhausted his administrative
remedies with regard to this claim, depriving the Court of
jurisdiction. Id. at 12. Finally, the Court noted
that the claim against Mr. Goss failed as a matter of law
because Title VII does not provide for individual liability.
Bunting moved for relief from judgment on October 28, 2016.
See Mot. for Reconsid. In his motion, Mr.
Bunting makes several arguments about why relief from
judgment would be appropriate. Mr. Bunting argues that he
“failed to provide critical information relevant to the
case notably, citation and affidavit, ” because he
“did not understand the difference between this process
and the stated complaints.” Id. at 2. He also
attaches an affidavit in which he describes the Warehouse
Manager hiring process and his interactions with Defendants.
See Pl.'s Affidavit, ECF No. 56-3. In the
affidavit, he notes that: “[o]ver the years
Kellogg's has shown a pattern of neglect in handling
Plaintiff's applications, ” and describes two
incidents in which he applied for internal positions that
were filled before he had the opportunity to interview for
them. Id. at ¶ 47. Mr. Bunting adds that
Kellogg's Internal Applicant Feedback Process required
the company to interview all internal applicants “who
are minimally qualified” for internal positions.
Id. at ¶ 50.
Bunting also alleges that Defendants committed fraud or
misrepresentation in their summary judgment briefing, making
relief from judgment inappropriate. He stated that Defendants
repeatedly presented false information as their defense.
Notably alleged screening of plaintiff for the positions,
which none of their action substantiate; Consideration for
the reposting, which Plaintiff had no knowledge of; the false
Declaration of Karen Morris alleged communication with
Plaintiff which never occurred; and the omission of ...