United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
HUBERT RANDLE on behalf of himself individually, and ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED Plaintiffs,
METROPOLITAN TRANSIT AUTHORITY OF HARRIS COUNTY Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Rosenthal Chief United States District Judge
Randle sued the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris
County (Metro), alleging a failure to pay the overtime wages
required under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §
201 et seq. (Docket Entry Nos. 1, 61). Randle drove
vehicles for Metro's METROLift program. Metro moved to
dismiss and to compel Randle to arbitrate his claim based on
an arbitration clause in Randle's contract with Yellow
Cab that gave him the right to drive for METROLift. (Docket
Entry No. 95). The court granted Metro's motion and
dismissed the litigation, without prejudice, in favor of
arbitration. (Docket Entry No. 96). Randle asks this court to
alter that ruling or, in the alternative, to equitably toll
limitations. Randle also seeks leave to substitute Tameika
Kirby as the named plaintiff. Metro responded to both
motions, Randle replied, Metro surreplied, and Randle filed
supplemental authority. (Docket Entry Nos. 97-102, 105,
reviewing the parties' motions, responses, and replies;
the record; and the applicable law, the court denies the
motion to alter or amend the judgment and to equitably toll
limitations, and denies the motion to substitute the named
plaintiff. (Docket Entry Nos. 97, 98). The reasons for these
rulings are set out below.
critical background facts are drawn from the record and set
out in the court's Memorandum and Opinion granting
Metro's motion to dismiss in favor of arbitration and
need not be repeated here. (Docket Entry No. 95). Randle
alleged that Metro had denied him overtime wages and
misclassifed him as an exempt worker, in violation of the
FLSA. Randle was a driver for the METROLift program, a
paratransit service operating in the Houston area. Metro does
not directly contract with drivers for the METROLift program,
but instead contracts with the Greater Houston Transportation
Company, which in turn contracts with companies like Yellow
Cab Paratransit Services to hire independent contractors to
drive specific METROLift routes. Randle had contracts with
the Greater Houston Transportation Company and Yellow Cab
(the “Yellow Cab Contracts”) to drive as an
independent contractor for METROLift under the Greater
Houston Transportation Company's contract with Metro.
(See Docket Entry No. 74-2). Randle did not sue
Yellow Cab Contracts included arbitration clauses. Metro, a
nonsignatory to those contracts, moved to dismiss the
litigation and to compel arbitration. (Docket Entry No. 24).
The court granted Randle leave to amend and to substitute a
party who was not subject to a similar arbitration clauses,
but Randle did not do so in his amended complaint. (Docket
Entry Nos. 58, 61). After Metro again moved to dismiss and to
compel arbitration, and Randle responded, the court dismissed
the litigation in favor of arbitration. (Docket Entry Nos.
74, 78, 79, 87, 94-96). Randle's motions to amend the
judgment and to substitute the party plaintiff followed.
(Docket Entry Nos. 97, 98).
The Relevant Legal Standards
The Motion for Reconsideration
may move to alter judgment under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 59(e) if the motion is filed with 28 days of the
court's ruling. Demahy v. Schwarz Pharm. Inc.,
No. 11-31073, 2012 WL 5261492, at *2 n.2 (5th Cir. Oct. 25,
2012) (citing Tex. A&M Research Found. v. Magna
Transp., Inc., 338 F.3d 394, 400 (5th Cir. 2003)). A
Rule 59(e) motion “calls into question the correctness
of a judgment.” Templet v. HydroChem Inc., 367
F.3d 473, 478-79 (5th Cir. 2004). A Rule 59(e) motion
“‘must clearly establish either a manifest error
of law or fact or must present newly discovered evidence'
and ‘cannot be used to raise arguments which could, and
should, have been made before the judgment
issued.'” Rosenzweig v. Azurix Corp., 332
F.3d 854, 863-64 (5th Cir. 2003) (quoting Simon v. United
States, 891 F.2d 1154, 1159 (5th Cir. 1990)).
court has “considerable discretion” in addressing
a motion for reconsideration. Templet, 367 F.3d at
479. Changing an order or judgment under Rule 59(e) is an
“extraordinary remedy” that courts use sparingly.
Id.; see also 11 Charles Alan Wright,
Arthur Miller & Mary Kay Kane, Federal Practice and
Procedure § 2810.1 (3d ed. 2018). The Rule 59(e)
standard “favors denial of motions to alter or amend a
judgment.” S. Constructors Grp., Inc. v.
Dynaelectric Co., 2 F.3d 606, 611 (5th Cir. 1993). A
motion to reconsider may not be used to relitigate matters.
raise arguments, or present evidence that could have been
litigated, raised, or presented before the judgment or order
was entered. Wright et al. § 2810.1.
doctrine of equitable tolling preserves a plaintiff's
claims when strict application of the statute of limitations
would be inequitable.” United States v.
Patterson, 211 F.3d 927, 930 (5th Cir. 2000) (quoting
Davis v. Johnson, 158 F.3d 806, 810 (5th Cir.
1998)). The doctrine applies in “rare and exceptional
circumstances, ” Teemac v. Henderson, 298 F.3d
452, 457 (5th Cir. 2002) (quoting Davis, 158 F.3d at
811), and is available only when a plaintiff diligently
pursues his or her rights. Caldwell v. Dretke, 429
F.3d 521, 530 n.23 (5th Cir. 2005); see also Pacheco v.
Rice, 966 F.2d 904, 906-07 (5th Cir. 1992) (equitable
tolling is justified “when, despite all due diligence,
a plaintiff is unable to discover essential information
bearing on the existence of his claim”). Plaintiffs
must demonstrate why a case should be exempt from the
standard FLSA rule by showing that despite diligently
pursuing their rights, they were “unable to discover
essential information bearing on the existence of their
claim.” Pacheco, 966 F.2d at 906-07.
Substitution of a Named Plaintiff
to amend should “be freely given when justice so
requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). District courts have
discretion to determine whether justice requires granting
leave. Zenith Radio Corp. v. Hazeltine Research,
Inc., 401 U.S. 321, 330 (1971); Daves v. Payless
Cashways, Inc., 661 F.2d 1022, 1024 (5th Cir. 1981).
“A district court must possess a ‘substantial
reason' to deny a request for leave to amend, but
‘leave to amend is by no means automatic.'”
Jones v. Robinson Prop. Grp., L.P., 427 F.3d 987
(5th Cir. 2005) (citing Lyn-Lea Travel Corp. v. Am.
Airlines, 283 F.3d 282, 286 (5th Cir. 2002); Halbert
v. City of Cherman, 33 F.3d 526, 529 (5th Cir. 1994)).
The factors “includ[e] undue delay, bad faith or
dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failures
to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue
prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of allowance of the
amendment, and futility of the amendment.” Id.
(citing Dussouy v. Gulf Coast Inv. Corp., 660 F.2d
594, 598 (5th Cir. 1981)).
motion and issue is analyzed under the applicable legal
The Motion to Reconsider the Court's Order Dismissing the
Litigation in Favor of Arbitration
argues that his motion to alter the judgment is “to
correct error” and “prevent manifest
injustice.” (Docket Entry No. 97 at 4). He argues that
the court erred because: (1) direct-benefits estoppel does
not apply to his claims against Metro; and (2) the
arbitration clauses limit his substantive rights under the
FLSA. (Id. at 4-5). Metro responds that Randle
should have asserted each argument earlier and that he has
not shown a manifest error of law. (Docket Entry No. 99 at
Randle's Argument Is Not Properly Raised in His ...