United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
JAMES THOMPSON, LEE FITCH, CHRIS HARRISON, JONATHAN NELSON, WILLIAM PURVIANCE, CHRISTOPHER LOVE, and FERNANDO CHAVEZ, Plaintiffs,
INTERNATIONAL PAPER COMPANY, UNITED STEELWORKERS, and UNITED STEELWORKERS LOCAL UNION
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. BOYLF, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
defendants have asked the Court to reconsider its October 19,
2017 order, Doc. 111, denying the defendants' motions for
summary judgment. Docs. 113, 115. The Court
DENIES the defendants' motions.
Court recited the facts of this case in detail in its order
denying summary judgment and will not do so again here. The
short version follows.
plaintiffs claim International Paper should be paying them
for their lunch breaks, and the text of the 2010 collective
bargaining agreement (CBA) explicitly supports the
plaintiffs. The defendants respond that the CBA contains a
typo and that neither International Paper nor the
plaintiffs' union (the Union) ever intended the CBA to
entitle the plaintiffs to paid lunch breaks. Essentially, the
defendants are trying to avoid the CBA's text via a
mutual-mistake defense. The plaintiffs reply that their
employer and union are colluding to avoid having to comply
with the text of the CBA.
denying the defendants' motions for summary judgment, the
Court relied in part on statements allegedly made by local
union representative Larry Hughes. Two of the plaintiffs
claim Hughes told them at a meeting shortly after the Union
decided to drop the plaintiffs' grievance that “if
[the plainitffs] had been union members things could have
gone differently.” Doc. 104-1, App'x to Pls.'
Consolidated Resp., 4, 7. And a third plaintiff claims Hughes
“often made the statement if y'all were in the
Union they might help. But since we were not, the union was
not really gonna waste time with it.” Id. at
Court considered the above affidavits to be important in two
ways. The evidence is important for two reasons because the
plaintiffs must prove two things to win their case: 1) that
their employer breached the collective bargaining agreement
and 2) that their union breached its duty of fair
representation. Chauffeurs, Teamsters & Helpers,
Local No. 391 v. Terry, 494 U.S. 558, 564 (1990). As to
the first requirement, the Court found that, along with other
evidence the plaintiffs presented, the affidavits were some
evidence that the defendants did not make a mutual mistake.
Doc. 111, Order, 10-11. And as to the second requirement, the
Court found the affidavits to be some evidence that the Union
breached its duty of fair representation by acting in a
bad-faith, discriminatory, or arbitrary manner. Id.
Union's motion for reconsideration, the Union challenges
the Court's reliance on the above affidavits and chides
the Court for failing to consider statements Hughes made in
his deposition, which the Union contends show that Hughes
always thought the plaintiffs' grievance lacked merit.
The Union presented the deposition testimony in a motion to
strike part of the plaintiffs' summary-judgment evidence
in which the Union alternatively argued that the excerpts
from Hughes' deposition should be included in the
summary-judgment record under the rule of optional
completeness. Doc. 113, Union's Mot. Reconsideration,
13-14. The Court did not resolve the motion to strike because
it denied the motion for summary judgment without considering
the evidence the Union wanted the Court to strike, so the
Court did not consider the deposition excerpts in the
Union's motion to strike. Doc. 111, Order, 14 n.5.
own motion for reconsideration, International Paper claims
the Court erred in denying summary judgment on the
defendants' mutual-mistake defense. Doc. 115,
International Paper's Mot. Reconsideration, 2.
International Paper contends that its
“undisputed”evidence prevents a jury from
reasonably inferring that the CBA's text entitled the
plaintiffs to paid lunch breaks for any reason other than a
mutual mistake made by the Union and International Paper.
Id. International Paper chiefly complains that the
Court relied on evidence of conduct that occurred after
International Paper and the Union signed the CBA and that
evidence of conduct that occurred after the defendants signed
the CBA cannot rebut the defendants' direct evidence of
what happened at the negotiations that resulted in the CBA.
Id. at 3.
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not explicitly provide
for motions for reconsideration. Although the defendants
contend that the Court should treat their motion as one to
alter or amend a judgment under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 59(e), the applicable rule is actually 54(b), which
the Fifth Circuit has said gives trial courts the authority
to reverse their interlocutory orders before issuing final
judgments, Niagra Mach. & Tool Works, 910 F.2d
167, 185 n.92 (5th Cir. 1990). Rule 59(e) applies to
judgments, but the Court has issued no judgment. Rather, the
Court merely denied the defendants' motions for summary
judgment. And an order denying summary judgment is
interlocutory, not a judgment. Id. at 185. This
Court has granted a motion to reconsider an order denying
summary judgment because the movant presented in its motion
for reconsideration new evidence that the Court believed
eliminated the fact issue that led it to deny summary
judgment in the first place. Robinson v. Procter &
Gamble Distr. Co., No. Civ.A.3:02CV2012, 2004 WL
3019092, at *1 (N.D. Tex. Dec. 30, 2004).
said, courts should proceed cautiously when reviewing motions
for reconsideration when the motion to be reviewed is a
denial of summary judgment. The Northern District of
Texas's Local Rules dictate that a party may file only
one motion for summary judgment unless otherwise directed by
the presiding judge. N.D. Tex. Civ. R. 56.2(b). Reviewing
denials of motions for summary judgment under too lax of ...