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Doe v. Paychex Inc.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

January 15, 2020

JANE DOE, Plaintiff,
v.
PAYCHEX, INC., Defendant.

          RULING AND ORDER ON PENDING MOTIONS

          VICTOR A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Jane Doe (“Plaintiff) has filed numerous motions, including on issues already decided by this Court, and despite having filed an interlocutory appeal of two of the Court's orders on these issues with the Second Circuit. The Second Circuit has dismissed the Plaintiffs appeal for lack of jurisdiction, and the Court here reviews Ms. Doe's multiple pending motions.

         For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS the motion to amend the case caption and remove Ms. Doe's pseudonym and DENIES all other pending motions.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Familiarity with the factual background of this case is assumed. See Ruling and Order, ECF No. 66 (May 6, 2019). Ms. Doe allegedly worked as a sales agent for Defendant, Paychex, Inc., (“Paychex”) from January until August 2015. Second Am. Compl, ECF No. 35 (Oct. 9, 2018).

         On December 7, 2017, Ms. Doe brought this action against Paychex seeking monetary damages and injunctive relief for violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq.; and several state laws. Compl., ECF No. 1 (Dec. 7, 2017). She brought the action under seal and using a pseudonym, claiming that she was afraid for her safety and concerned about Paychex interfering with her employment prospects. Id.; Mot. to Seal, ECF No. 2 (Dec. 7, 2017).

         After Ms. Doe filed this lawsuit, the parties exchanged numerous motions. Among these, Ms. Doe moved three times for leave to amend her complaint and filed motions for default judgment and a preliminary injunction. Ms. Doe's amended complaints sought to add new defendants, USI Insurance Services of Connecticut and USI Insurance Services LLC (collectively, “USI”), and to add new theories of liability under multiple federal and state laws, as well as Connecticut common law. Paychex and USI filed motions to dismiss the first two amended complaints, and Paychex moved to unseal the case. See Docket Entries, ECF Nos. 11-61 (Feb. 27, 2018 - Apr. 9, 2019).

         On April 9, 2019, the Court held a hearing on all pending motions, Minute Entry, ECF No. 62 (Apr. 9, 2019), and subsequently issued two orders. One order denied Ms. Doe's motions for default judgment and preliminary injunction as moot. Order, ECF No. 63 (Apr. 9, 2019). The second order granted the motion to unseal; granted Ms. Doe's second motion to amend and denying her third; and granted in part and denied in part the motion to dismiss the Second Amended Complaint. Ruling and Order, ECF No. 66 (May 6, 2019). The Court dismissed all claims against USI and many claims against Paychex, leaving only Ms. Doe's claims against Paychex for sex discrimination, hostile workplace, and retaliation under Title VII. Id. at 3.

         On June 7, 2019, Paychex moved to amend the case title to remove Ms. Doe's pseudonym. Mot. to Amend Case Title, ECF No. 74 (June 7, 2019).

         On June 14, 2019, Ms. Doe filed a notice of interlocutory appeal of the Court's Orders of April 9, 2019, and May 6, 2019. Notice of Interlocutory Appeal, ECF No. 76 (June 14, 2019). Despite her appeal, Ms. Doe continued to ask this Court for relief.

         On July 22, 2019, Ms. Doe filed a motion for default entry against both Paychex and USI, and a motion for judgment and injunction against both Paychex and USI. Mot. for Default Entry, ECF No. 84 (July 22, 2019); Mot. for Judgment and Inj., ECF No. 85 (July 22, 2019).

         On July 29, 2019, Ms. Doe filed a motion for reconsideration of the Court's dismissal of USI as a defendant. Mot. for Recons., ECF No. 88 (July 29, 2019).

         On August 5, 2019, Ms. Doe filed a motion for sanctions, claiming that Paychex and USI have misled the Court, that Paychex's motion to remove Plaintiff's pseudonym was filed with improper purpose. Mot. for Sanctions, ECF No. 89 (Aug. 5, 2019).

         On August 19, 2019, Ms. Doe filed a motion for service expenses under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(d)(2). Mot. for Serv. Expenses, ECF No. 93 (Aug. 19, 2019).

         On September 6, 2019, Ms. Doe filed a motion requesting that the Court accept the Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint and grant the motions for default entry. Mot. to Request Court to Accept Plaintiff's Second/Third Am. Compl., ECF No. 99 (Sept. 6, 2019).

         On September 16, 2019, Paychex filed a motion requesting to be referred to Magistrate Judge William I. Garfinkel for the purpose of resolving the parties' dispute regarding the contents of their respective reports submitted under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(f). Mot. for Referral to Magistrate, ECF No. 101 (Sept. 16, 2019).

         On October 25, 2019, Ms. Doe filed a supplemental motion for sanctions. Suppl. Mot. for Sanctions, ECF No. 109 (Oct. 25, 2019).

         On October 30, 2019, Ms. Doe filed a motion for an emergency injunction against Paychex and USI. Mot. for Emerg. Inj., ECF No. 110 (Oct. 30, 2019).

         On November 13, 2019, Paychex objected to Ms. Doe's motion for an emergency injunction and her motion for sanctions. Obj. to Mot. for Sanctions, ECF No. 111 (Nov. 13, 2019); Obj. to Mot. for Emerg. Inj., ECF No. 112 (Nov. 13, 2019).[1]

         On December 10, 2019, Ms. Doe responded to Paychex's objections. Resp. to Obj. to Emerg. Inj., ECF No. 113 (Dec. 10, 2019); Resp. to Obj. to Sanctions, ECF No. 114 (Dec. 10, 2019).

         On December 27, 2019, the Second Circuit dismissed Ms. Doe's appeal because “a final order has not been issued by the district court as contemplated by 28 U.S.C. § 1291.” Mandate of USCA, ECF No. 115 (No. 19-1760 (2d Cir. Dec. 27, 2019)) (citing Petrello v. White, 533 F.3d 110, 113 (2d Cir. 2008)).

         On January 9, 2020, Ms. Doe filed a motion for a hearing on the scheduling order under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 26(f). Mot. for Hearing, ECF No. 116 (Jan. 9, 2020).

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A. Motion for Reconsideration

         “Motions for reconsideration shall not be routinely filed and shall satisfy the strict standard applicable to such motions. Such motions will generally be denied unless the movant can point to controlling decisions or data that the court overlooked in the initial decision or order.” D. Conn. L. Civ. R. 7(c). This standard is strict. A motion for reconsideration should be granted only where the defendant identifies “an intervening change of controlling law, the availability of new evidence, or the need to correct a clear error or prevent manifest injustice.” Kolel Bell Yechiel Mechil of Tartikov, Inc. v. YLL Irrevocable Tr., 729 F.3d 99, 104 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting Virgin Atl. Airways, Ltd. v. Nat'l Mediation Bd., 956 F.2d 1245, 1255 (2d Cir. 1992)). Additionally, these matters must “reasonably be expected to alter the conclusion reached by the court.” Schrader v. CSX Transp., Inc., 71 F.3d 255, 257 (2d Cir. 1995).

         B. Motion for Default Judgment

         “Rule 55 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides a two-step process for obtaining a default judgment.” Priestley v. Headminder, Inc., 647 F.3d 497, 504 (2d Cir. 2011). Plaintiffs must first obtain an entry of default under Rule 55(a), by showing that the defaulting party “has failed to plead or otherwise defend.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). “Once default has been entered, the allegations of the complaint that establish the defendant's liability are accepted as true, except for those relating to the amount of damages.” Ruling and Order on Mot. for Default Judgment, Cantor Colburn LLP v. On Demand Dir. Resp., No. 3:17-cv-1515 (VAB) (D. Conn. June 7, 2018), ECF No. 17 (quoting Coles v. Lieberman, Michaels & Kelly, LLC, No. 10-cv-484S, 2011 WL 3176467, at *1 (W.D.N.Y. July 27, 2011)).

         C. Preliminary Injunctive Relief

         Preliminary injunctive relief is an extraordinary remedy and is never granted as a matter of right. See Winter v. Nat. Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 24 (2008). “A plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish that [s]he is likely to succeed on the merits, that [s]he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, that the balance of equities tips in h[er] favor, and that an injunction is in the public interest.” N.Y. Prog. and Prot. PAC v. Walsh, 733 F.3d 483, 486 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting Winter, 555 U.S. at 20); see also Jolly v. Coughlin, 76 F.3d 468, 473 (2d Cir. 1996) (“In most cases, a party seeking to obtain a preliminary injunction must establish that it will suffer irreparable harm in the absence of an injunction and demonstrate either (1) ‘a likelihood of success on the merits' or (2) ‘sufficiently serious questions going to the merits to make them a fair ground for litigation and a balance of the hardships tipping decidedly' in the movant's favor.” (quoting Waldman Publ'g Corp. v. Landoll, Inc., 43 F.3d 775, 779-80 (2d Cir. 1994))).

         D. Rule 11 Sanctions

         Under Rule 11, if a party presents arguments which “harass, cause unnecessary delay, or needlessly increase the cost of litigation, ” or whose “claims, defenses, and other legal contentions are [un]warranted by existing law or [are supported by []frivolous argument[s], for extending, modifying, or reversing existing law or for establishing new law . . . the [C]ourt may impose an appropriate sanction on any attorney, law firm, or party that violated the rule or is responsible for the violation.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 11(b)-(c).

         Rule 11 requires that the party moving for sanction give the Defendant notice of the motion for sanctions before filing a motion with the Court. Fed.R.Civ.P. 11(c) (A motion for sanctions “must be served [on the defendant] under Rule 5, but it must not be filed or be presented to the court if the challenged paper, claim, defense, contention, or denial is withdrawn or appropriately corrected within 21 days after service or within another time the court sets.”).

At a minimum, the notice requirement mandates that the subject of a [Rule 11] sanctions motion be informed of: . . . . the specific conduct or omission for which the sanctions are being considered so that the subject of the sanctions motion can prepare a defense. Indeed, only conduct explicitly referred to in the instrument providing notice is sanctionable.

Storey v. Cello Holdings, L.L.C., 347 F.3d 370, 389 (2d Cir. 2003). “These procedural protections are intended to reduce the number of motions for sanctions and to provide opportunities for parties to avoid sanctions altogether.” Perpetual Sec., Inc. v. Tang, 290 F.3d 132, 141-42 (2d Cir. 2002) (citing Hadges v. Yonkers Racing Corp., 48 F.3d 1320, 1327 (2d Cir. 1995)).

         E. Rule 4 Service of Process

         Under Rule 4, a summons and complaint must be served on the defendant(s) directing the defendant(s) to appear and defend in the case. Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(a)-(c). “An individual, corporation, or association that is subject to service under Rule 4(e), (f), or (h) has a duty to avoid unnecessary expenses of serving the summons. The plaintiff may notify such a defendant that an action has been commenced and request that the defendant waive service of a summons.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(d)(1). If a defendant “fails, without good cause, to sign and return a waiver” of service requested ...


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