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Rosemary Daniels v. Pioneer Central School District

April 20, 2011

ROSEMARY DANIELS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PIONEER CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William M. Skretny Chief Judge United States District Court

DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

In this action, Plaintiff Rosemary Daniels alleges that her former employer, Defendant Pioneer Central School District ("Pioneer"), violated her rights under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 621 et seq. ("ADEA").

Seeking to dismiss the claim in its entirety, Pioneer moved for summary judgment on March 19, 2010. This Court resolved that motion on January 6, 2012 when it issued a Decision and Order granting in part and denying in part Pioneer's motion. (Docket No. 51.) Pioneer now moves for reconsideration of that decision. (Docket No. 52.) For the following reasons, Pioneer's motion is denied.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Facts

The full relevant factual history is spelled out in this Court's January 6, 2012 Decision and Order. As it applies to this motion, it is sufficient to note that before Daniels' position was eliminated in 2006, she was a senior, nationally-recognized reading teacher in the Pioneer school district. In late 2005 and early 2006, her immediate supervisor and the principal of her school, Jeannine Wagner, made certain comments to Daniels and other senior teachers regarding the need to make room for "younger staff," "new thinking," and "bright young teachers coming in at the other end." (Christine Parker Affidavit, ¶ 5; Docket No. 35-12;Plaintiff's Statement, ¶ 8; Docket No. 38.) She also seemingly encouraged Daniels to retire. (Plaintiff's Statement, ¶ 8.) Wagner also admitted that she was the sole person involved in making the decision to restructure the reading program, which directly resulted in the elimination of Daniels' job. (Wagner Deposition, p. 38, attached as Exhibit N to Ball Declaration; Docket No. 40.)

B. Procedural History

Daniels filed a Complaint in this Court on October 15, 2008. (Docket No. 1.) After stipulation and approval by this Court on December 1, 2008, extending its time to respond, Pioneer answered on December 15, 2008. (Docket No. 8.) Pioneer filed its motion for summary judgment on March 19, 2010. (Docket No. 21.) After this Court's Decision and Order on January 6, 2012, Pioneer moved for reconsideration on February 3, 2012. Briefing on that motion concluded on March 23, 2012, at which time this Court took the motion under consideration.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Motion for Reconsideration Standard

Pioneer moves for reconsideration under Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e). "The standard for granting such a motion is strict, and reconsideration will generally be denied unless the moving party can point to controlling decisions or data that the court overlooked - matters, in other words, that might reasonably be expected to alter the conclusion reached by the court." Shrader v. CSX Transp. Inc., 70 F.3d 255, 257 (2d Cir. 1995). While district courts may alter or amend judgment "to correct a clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice," Munafo v. Metropolitan Transportation Authority, 381 F.3d 99, 105 (2d Cir. 2004), reconsideration is not a proper tool to repackage and relitigate arguments and issues already considered by the court in deciding the original motion, see United States v. Gross, No. 98--CR--0159, 2002 WL 32096592, at *4 (E.D.N.Y. Dec. 5, 2002). Nor is it proper to raise new arguments and issues. See Lehmuller v. Inc. Vill. of Sag Harbor, 982 F. Supp. 132, 135 (E.D.N.Y. 1997). Finally, relief under this provision lies within the sound discretion of the court. Schwartz v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 539 F.3d 135, 150 (2d Cir. 2008).

B. ADEA Standard

Under the ADEA, it is "unlawful for an employer . . . to discharge any individual or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's age." 29 U.S.C. ยง 623(a)(1). When a plaintiff alleges disparate treatment, "liability depends on whether the protected trait [age] actually motivated the employer's decision." Hazen Paper Co. v. Biggins, 507 U.S. 604, 610, 113 S. Ct. 1701, 123 L. Ed. 2d 338 (1993). But mixed motivation is not enough: "[t]o establish a disparate-treatment claim under the plain language of the ADEA, . . . a plaintiff must ...


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