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Henry v. Wyeth Pharmaceuticals

December 19, 2007

HOWARD HENRY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WYETH PHARMACEUTICALS, INC., WALTER WARDROP, ANDREW SCHASCHL AND MICHAEL MCDERMOTT, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Conner, Sr. D.J.

ECF CASE

OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Howard Henry ("Henry") brings suit against defendants Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ("Wyeth"), Walter Wardrop ("Wardrop") and Michael McDermott ("McDermott").*fn1 Plaintiff alleges that he suffered discrimination in the terms of his employment at Wyeth in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq.; 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and New York State Human Rights Law. The case was previously assigned to the Honorable Colleen McMahon. Judge McMahon issued an Opinion and Order granting in part and denying in part defendants' motion for summary judgment. The case was then transferred to this Court. Defendants now move, pursuant to S.D.N.Y. LOCAL CIV. R. 6.3, for reconsideration of the part of Judge McMahon's Opinion that denied their motion for summary judgment. For the following reasons, defendants' motion for reconsideration is denied.

BACKGROUND

The facts of this case are set out at length in Judge McMahon's Opinion, familiarity with which is presumed. See Henry v. Wyeth Pharm., Inc.,2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57921 (S.D.N.Y. July 30, 2007) (Henry I). The following is a brief summary of those facts relevant to the disposition of the present motion. Plaintiff, an African-American man, is a chemist. Id. at *4. He began working for one of Wyeth's predecessors in 1993 and earned several promotions in subsequent years. Id. at *4-6. Beginning in 2001, however, plaintiff was turned down for promotions on several occasions under circumstances that led him to believe he was being discriminated against because of his race.

See generally id. Plaintiff contends that after he began asking questions about his lack of further advancement at Wyeth, he was subject to retaliation, including unfairly negative performance evaluations designed to further impede his career:

To sum up Plaintiff's entire case . . . Plaintiff was an extremely talented chemical engineer receiving good reviews for nine straight years . . . [who won] two awards [and] who began seeking advancement opportunities within Wyeth. He applied for one position, and was turned down. He applied for another, and was turned down. Another. Another. He became suspicious, and he asked his supervisor why it was he was not advancing -- why he was being treated unfairly. The next thing he knew, his performance ratings dropped, his accomplishments were being ignored, nobody could give a consistent answer as to why, and he was placed in danger of losing his job. (Pl. Mem. Opp. Summ. J. at 25.)

Defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that there was "a complete lack of any admissible evidence . . . that any of the employment decisions at issue were made because of Henry's race or color or because he had engaged in any protected activity." (Defs. Mem. Supp. Summ. J. at 1.) Judge McMahon granted the motion as to some of the claims against McDermott and Wardrop ("the individual defendants"), certain claims that the court held to be time-barred and all claims based on two promotions which plaintiff testified he did not believe he was denied because of his race; the court denied the motion as to all other claims. See Henry I, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57921, at *77-83, *89. Defendants now ask us to reconsider the portion of that decision denying their motion.*fn2

DISCUSSION

I. Standard of Review

A motion for reconsideration or re-argument shall be granted only if "the court has overlooked matters or controlling decisions which, had they been considered, might reasonably have altered the result reached by the court." Adams v. United States, 686 F. Supp. 417, 418 (S.D.N.Y. 1988) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also S.D.N.Y. LOCAL CIV. R. 6.3.

Controlling decisions include decisions from the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit; they do not include decisions from other circuits or district courts, even courts in the Southern District of New York. See Ades v. Deloitte & Touche, 843 F. Supp. 888, 892 (S.D.N.Y. 1994). Local Rule 6.3 "is to be narrowly construed and strictly applied so as to avoid repetitive arguments on issues that have been considered fully by the court." Candelaria v. Coughlin, 155 F.R.D. 486, 491 (S.D.N.Y. 1994). The movant's disagreement with the court's interpretation of precedent is not a proper ground for reconsideration. Effron v. Sun Line Cruises, Inc., 158 F.R.D. 39, 40 (S.D.N.Y. 1994). Where the movant fails to show that any controlling authority or facts have actually been overlooked, and merely offers substantially the same arguments he offered on the original motion, the motion for reconsideration must be denied. See Geary v. Goldstein, 1994 WL 396044, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. July 27, 1994).

II. Defendants' Arguments for Reconsideration

Defendants base their motion for reconsideration on several grounds. They argue that Henry I improperly "lumped together" all of plaintiff's claims, rather than analyzing them separately; that certain evidence plaintiff presented was legally insufficient to support an inference of discrimination; that plaintiff's evidence of retaliation was also legally insufficient and that the remaining claims against the individual defendants should have been ...


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