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Tadlock v. United States Department of Transportation

United States District Court, D. Kansas

March 31, 2014

RODNEY K. TADLOCK, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, RAY H. LAHOOD, SECRETARY, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

JULIE A. ROBINSON, District Judge.

Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed this case on March 9, 2012, alleging claims of retaliation under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973[1] against his former employer, Defendant Department of Transportation. The Court issued a Memorandum and Order granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant.[2] Plaintiff appealed this Court's decision, and the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the decision in an Order and Judgment dated December 5, 2013.[3] This matter is now before the Court on several pending motions: Plaintiff's Motion for Reinstatement of Defense Ex. 10 Motion(s)-Rule 60(b)(1)(6) (Doc. 26); Plaintiff's Amended Motion for Reinstatement of Defense Ex. 10 Motion(s)-Rule 60(b)(1)(6) (Doc. 28); Defendant's Motion to Strike Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (Doc. 32); Defendant's Motion to Strike Plaintiff's First Amended Response to the FAA's Motion to Dismiss or in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment (Doc. 33); Defendant's Motion to Strike Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 34); and Defendant's Motion to Strike Plaintiff's Second Amended Response to the FAA's Motion to Dismiss or in the Alternative, For Summary Judgment (Doc. 35).

On April 8, 2013, Plaintiff filed three documents: a "Motion for Reinstatement" (Doc. 26) and two additional documents filed in support of the motion-Plaintiff's Complaint with a new declaration page (Doc. 27) and Plaintiff's Motion Opposing Dismissal or Summary Judgment with new declarations page (Doc. 25). On April 9, 2013, Plaintiff filed an amended Motion for Reinstatement (Doc. 28) stating that he "inadvertently printed out the incorrect version on April 8, 2013, " and asking the Court "to accept the new version with additional attachments and edited content citing [his] ROI references." Plaintiff also filed amended versions of the supporting documents: Plaintiff's Complaint-Amendment #2 (Doc. 30) and Plaintiff's Motion Opposing Dismissal or Summary Judgment-Amendment #2 (Doc. 29). In light of Plaintiff's amended motion, the Court finds that Plaintiff's original motion (Doc. 26) is moot and therefore denied. Because the motion is moot, the Court will grant Defendant's motions to strike the original supporting documents. Therefore, the Court will only address Plaintiff's Amended Motion for Reinstatement (Doc. 28); Defendant's Motion to Strike Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 34); and Defendant's Motion to Strike Plaintiff's Second Amended Response to the FAA's Motion to Dismiss or in the Alternative, For Summary Judgment (Doc. 35).

I. Procedural and Factual Background

This Court previously held in its March 6, 2013 Memorandum and Order that Defendant was entitled to summary judgment because Plaintiff could not establish a genuine issue of material fact that he was retaliated against under the Rehabilitation Act under any of the three theories he administratively exhausted: (1) denial of his request of October 16, 2007, for a shift change on October 17, 2007; (2) a medical records request in November 2007; and (3) constructive discharge in December 2007.[4] Plaintiff claims that all three of these actions were in retaliation of his November 2006 EEO claim.

The Court found that with regard to the denial of Plaintiff's request for a shift change, there was no objective evidence in the record of material disadvantage associated with the October 16, 2007 denial of shift change-it did not affect Plaintiff's job status or pay. Plaintiff offered no admissible evidence that working the day shift on October 17, 2007, was objectively preferable, only that it was a temporary reassignment that he subjectively preferred. Moreover, the Court found no evidence of causal connection-the undisputed evidence shows that Price was unaware of Plaintiff's EEO complaint when he denied the shift change request.[5] While Plaintiff suggested that Price was not truthful when he testified accordingly at the administrative hearing, the Court found that such conclusory assertions were insufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact. Furthermore, the Court found that even if Plaintiff could make out a prima facie case with regard to this claim, he is unable to show that the FAA's nonretaliatory explanation is unworthy of credence.

Plaintiff's second claim is that the FAA's request for medical documents in November 2007 was retaliatory-designed to harass him. The Court again found that the request for medical records was not an adverse employment action. There was no evidence that the request itself materially changed the terms or conditions of his employment, even though the information discovered within those documents led to his temporary incapacitation.

Lastly, Plaintiff claimed that he was constructively discharged because he was "disqualified" by Dr. Wilson for his use of a sleep aid medication, a status that he alleged effectively ends an air traffic controller's career. But the Court found there was no evidence in the record that Plaintiff was ever disqualified, and that his statements to the contrary were inadmissible. The Court found that there was no genuine issue of material fact about whether Plaintiff's working conditions were objectively intolerable and that Plaintiff clearly had another reasonable choice other than retiring-returning to work in an administrative capacity and waiting for the results of the medical investigation.

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed this Court's decision on December 5, 2013.[6] In that decision, the Tenth Circuit found that although Plaintiff largely disputes the entry of summary judgment on the ground that this Court relied on false evidence, none of his arguments creates a genuine issue of material fact.[7] The Tenth Circuit further found that Plaintiff's argument regarding "temporal proximity" is not directed to any of the three claims of retaliation that he administratively exhausted.[8] The Court also found that Plaintiff distorted Wilson's testimony during the administrative phase of the case, and held that "the medical records request itself was not a materially adverse employment action because the request did not materially change the terms or conditions of Tadlock's employment."[9] Likewise, the Court agreed "that the denial of Tadlock's shift-change request was not a materially adverse employment action."[10]

II. Discussion

A. Plaintiff's Amended Motion for Reinstatement of Defense Ex. 10 Motion(s)- Rule 60(b)(1)(6) (Doc. 28)

Local Rule 7.3(a) provides that "[p]arties seeking reconsideration of dispositive orders or judgments must file a motion pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) or 60."[11] A motion to alter or amend judgment pursuant to Rule 59(e) must be filed no later than 28 days after entry of the judgment and may be granted only if the moving party can establish: (1) an intervening change in the controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence that could not have been obtained previously through the exercise of due diligence; or (3) the need to correct clear error or prevent manifest injustice.[12] Such a motion does not permit a losing party to rehash arguments previously addressed or to present new legal theories or facts that could have been raised earlier.[13] Because Plaintiff filed his motions for reinstatement more than 28 days after the Court entered its judgment on March 6, 2013, the Court construes the motion under Rule 60(b).

Rule 60(b) provides that the Court may relieve a party from a final judgment for ...


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