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Vasquez v. City of Idaho Falls

United States District Court, D. Idaho

March 1, 2018

LUIS AUGUSTINE VASQUEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF IDAHO FALLS, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          DAVID C. NYE U S DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

         I. OVERVIEW

         This employment discrimination case comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration. Dkt. 37. Plaintiff Luis Augustine Vasquez argues the Court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant the City of Idaho Falls and, accordingly, asks the Court to reconsider its decision. Having reviewed the record, the Court finds that the parties have adequately presented the facts and legal arguments in the briefs. Accordingly, in the interest of avoiding further delay, and because the Court finds that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument, the Court decides the pending Motion on the record without oral argument.[1] Dist. Idaho Loc. Civ. R. 7.1(d)(2)(ii). For the reasons set forth below, the Court finds good cause to DENY the Motion for Reconsideration.

         II. BACKGROUND

         This Court granted Defendant the City of Idaho Falls' Motion for Summary Judgment on December 20, 2018. Dkt. 33. The Court set forth the entire factual background of this case in that Decision. The Court now incorporates, in full, that factual background by reference. That Decision also disposed of all of Plaintiff's claims. Accordingly, the Court entered Judgment and dismissed the case in its entirety. Dkt. 37. On January 31, 2018, Plaintiff filed the current Motion for Reconsideration. The Motion is now fully briefed and ripe for review.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         It is true that “neither the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure nor the Local Rules provide for a motion to reconsider.” Magnus Pac. Corp. v. Advanced Explosives Demolition, Inc., No. 2:13-CV-0060-EJL-CWD, 2014 WL 3533622, at *1 (D. Idaho July 15, 2014). Nevertheless, the Ninth Circuit has instructed that courts should treat motions to reconsider “as motions to alter or amend under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e).” Id. (citing Sierra On-Line, Inc. v. Phoenix Software, Inc., 739 F.2d 1415, 1419 (9th Cir. 1984)). “While Rule 59(e) permits a district court to reconsider and amend a previous order, the rule offers an ‘extraordinary remedy, to be used sparingly in the interests of finality and conservation of judicial resources.'” Carroll v. Nakatani, 342 F.3d 934, 945 (9th Cir. 2003) (quoting 12 James Wm. Moore et al., Moore's Federal Practice § 59.30[4] (3d ed. 2000)). Accordingly, a district court should only grant a motion for reconsideration if (1) it “is presented with newly discovered evidence, ” (2) it “committed clear error, ” or (3) “there is an intervening change in the controlling law.” Id. (citation omitted). “A Rule 59(e) motion may not be used to raise arguments or present evidence for the first time when they could reasonably have been raised earlier in the litigation.” Id. “Whether or not to grant reconsideration is committed to the sound discretion of the court.” See Navajo Nation v. Confederated Tribes & Bands of the Yakama Indian Nation, 331 F.3d 1041, 1046 (9th Cir. 2003) (citing Kona Enter., Inc. v. Estate of Bishop, 229 F.3d 877, 883 (9th Cir. 2000)).

         IV. ANALYSIS

         Plaintiff argues the Court should reconsider its summary judgment decision because it committed three clear legal errors. Plaintiff also asserts it has new evidence that requires reconsideration. The Court will address each of these arguments in turn.

         First, Plaintiff argues the Court erred “in concluding that [his] supervisor, Jeff Baird, who obviously had a deep and thoroughgoing discriminatory animus against Hispanic or Mexican people in general, and Plaintiff in particular, because as a technical matter he was not among the small group of people to whom the defendant delegated the decision to fire Plaintiff.” Dkt. 37-1, at 2. Put differently, Plaintiff argues the Court's decision is contrary to Vance v. Ball State University, 133 S.Ct. 2434 (2013).

         The Court directly addressed this argument in its last decision. See Dkt. 33, at 17-18. Under Vance, when “an employer . . . confine[s] decisionmaking power to a small number of individuals, . . . the employer may be held to have effectively delegated the power to take tangible employment actions to the employees on whose recommendations it relies.” Vance, 133 S.Ct. at 2452 (emphasis added). Vance necessarily requires that there be evidence that the employer relied on the recommendation of an employee in taking an employment action. The totality of the record shows the City did not rely on Baird in terminating Plaintiff.

         The primary evidence Plaintiff has relied on throughout this case is the declaration of Daris Powell, a previous employee of the City of Idaho Falls who had no personal knowledge of the facts giving rise to this case. The Court struck portions of Powell's declaration after finding them inadmissible. Plaintiff does not challenge the decision to strike Powell's declaration. Rather, Plaintiff continues to insist that Powell's declaration shows Baird had influence over the City's decision to fire him. The Court reiterates that Powell's experience five years prior has no bearing on the facts giving rise to this case.

         In his Motion for Reconsideration, Plaintiff points to the City's policy, which authorized Baird to discipline City employees under his supervision (including Plaintiff). Just because Baird was authorized, in general, to discipline employees does not mean he disciplined Plaintiff in this instance or recommended Plaintiff's termination to the City. More evidence is required for Plaintiff's claim to survive summary judgment.

         Plaintiff also cites to the fact that Greg Weitzel had little or no interaction with Plaintiff before he notified Plaintiff that the City was terminating him. This fact also does not change the outcome of this case. The record as a whole indicates the City terminated Plaintiff because it found credible complaints filed by City employees that accused Plaintiff of sexual harassment. The record does not show that the City terminated Plaintiff for poor performance over an extended period of time. In such circumstances, it is not unusual for a higher level manager, with little direct knowledge of the ...


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