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Roberts v. Mnuchin

United States District Court, W.D. Texas, Austin Division

November 6, 2017

STEVEN MNUCHIN, Secretary of Treasury, Defendant.



         BE IT REMEMBERED on this day the Court reviewed the file in the above-styled cause, and specifically Defendant Steven Mnuchin (Defendant)'s Motion for Reconsideration, or, in the alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment [#16], Plaintiff Lawson P. Roberts (Plaintiff)'s Response [#17] in opposition, and Defendant's Reply [#18] in support. Having reviewed the documents, the governing law, and the file as a whole, the Court now enters the following opinion and order DENYING the motion for reconsideration.


         In his motion for reconsideration, Defendant asks this Court to reconsider its order denying Defendant's amended motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, or, in the alternative, motion for summary judgment. Mot. Recons. [#16] at 1.

         Plaintiff, an employee of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and thus an employee of the Department of the Treasury (the Treasury), filed this suit on December 5, 2016. Compl. [#1]. Plaintiff contends the Treasury, through the actions of the IRS, unlawfully retaliated against him for filing complaints and participating in Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) conflict resolution processes in violation of Title VII's anti-retaliation provision, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a). Id. ¶¶ 8-10. As part of that alleged retaliation, Plaintiff claims the Treasury's efforts to settle his complaints, via the Settlement Agreement, were conducted in bad faith. Id. ¶ 10.

         On September 26, 2017, the Court entered an order denying Defendant's motion to dismiss because "Plaintiff carried his burden to establish this Court's subject matter jurisdiction" Order of Sept. 26, 2017 [#10] at 7. Now, Defendant asks the Court to reconsider that order.


         I. Legal Standard

         The Court construes Defendant's motion for reconsideration as a Rule 54(b) motion because it asks the Court to reconsider its refusal to dismiss Plaintiffs claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b) (giving a district court discretion to "revise[] at anytime before the entry of a judgment" "any order or other decision, however designated, that adjudicates fewer than all the claims or the rights and liabilities of fewer than all the parties"). While a district court's discretion to reconsider its orders is broad, "it is exercised rarely to avoid the perpetual reexamination of orders and the resulting burdens and delays." Iturralde v. Shaw Grp., Inc., No. CTV.A 05-330, 2012 WL 1565356, at *3 (M.D. La. May 1, 2012) (citations omitted), aff'd, 512 Fed.Appx. 430 (5th Cir. 2013).

         "Although the precise standard for evaluating a motion to reconsider under Rule 54(b) is unclear, whether to grant such a motion rests within the discretion of the court... [a]nd the standard would appear to be less exacting than that imposed by Rules 59 and 60." Cantwell Family Tr. (1998) & Cantwell Holdings, Ltd. v. Hyten, No. A-15-CA-414-SS, 2016 WL 1610610 at *2 (W.D. Tex. Apr. 20, 2016) (citing Dos Santos v. Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc. Dist, 651 F.Supp.2d 550, 553 (N.D. Tex. 2009)). In examining a Rule 54(b) motion to reconsider, however, "considerations similar to those under Rules 59 and 60 inform the Court's analysis." Id. In particular, a Court considers "whether the movant is attempting to rehash its previously made arguments or is attempting to raise an argument for the first time without justification . . . ." Dos Santos, 651 F.Supp.2d at 553 (citations omitted).

         II. Application

         For a complaint to survive a motion to dismiss made under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), the party seeking access to the federal forum must establish federal subject matter jurisdiction exists. Howery v. Allstate Ins. Co., 243 F.3d 912, 916 (5th Cir. 2001) (citing Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994)). Where sovereign immunity applies, claims asserted against the immune party "can be dismissed only under Rule 12(b)(1) and not with prejudice." Warnock v. Pecos Cty., 88 F.3d 341, 343 (5th Cir. 1996).

         In its September 26, 2017 Order, this Court determined it had subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiffs claims. Notably, the Court found Plaintiff brought only claims for unlawful retaliation in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a) and did not allege breach of contract. Order of Sept. 26, 2017 [#13] at 5-7. The Court also concluded Plaintiff had properly exhausted his claims before filing this lawsuit. Id. at 6-7.

         Nothing in Defendant's motion for reconsideration suggests the Court erred in denying Defendant's motion to dismiss via the September 26, 2017 Order. The majority of Defendant's motion for reconsideration attempts to rehash arguments the Court already considered. Specifically, Defendant repeats his argument Plaintiffs retaliation claims are, ...

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