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Cope v. Gateway Area Development District

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Ashland

January 6, 2015

DAVID COPE, Plaintiff,
v.
GATEWAY AREA DEVELOPMENT DISTRICT, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

HENRY R. WILHOLT, Jr., District Judge.

This matter is before the Court upon the Plaintiff's Motion to Alter, Amend, or Vacate the Judgment Entered on September 25, 2014 [Docket No. 34]. The motion has been fully briefed by the parties [Docket Nos. 34-1, 35 and 36]. The Court finds that Plaintiff has failed to assert proper grounds upon which the Court would alter, amend or vacate its judgment.

I. BACKGROUND

This lawsuit arises from the termination Plaintiff David Cope's employment as a case worker for Defendant Gateway Area Development District. The facts leading up to his termination are set forth in this Court's Memorandum Opinion and Order of September 25, 2014 [Docket No. 32] and need not be reiterated here.

Following the termination of his employment, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit against Gateway Area Development District ("GADD"), Gail Wright in her official capacity as the Executive Director of GADD as well as individually and Deborah Anderson, in her official capacity as the Commissioner of Cabinet for Health and Family Services Department of Aging and Independent Living, alleging violations of Whistleblower Statute, KRS 61.101 et. seq., (Count I), 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 (Count II). He subsequently amended his Complaint to add a common law claim for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy (Count III).

The claims against Deborah Anderson in her official capacity as the Commissioner of Cabinet for Health and Family Services Department of Aging and Independent Living were dismissed without objection by the Plaintiff [Docket No. 16].

This Court granted the Defendants' dispositive motions by Memorandum Opinion and Order and final judgment entered on September 25, 2014. It dismissed the claims against GADD and granted summary judgment in favor of Anderson pursuant to Civil Rule 56.

Specifically, this Court held the lack of temporal activity by defendants between when Cope complained to the IRS, plus the results of the audit performed by the state oversight agency, DAIL, rendered it implausible to believe Plaintiff's dismissal for lack of funding by GADD was related to his purported whistle-blower or free speech related actions.

This Court further concluded that Cope's complaints to the IRS about his status as an independent contractor was a personal grievance and therefore not protected speech under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Concerning Count III of the Amended Complaint, this Court held Defendant Anderson was never Plaintiff's employer and therefore could not terminate his employment or be liable for the same.

Plaintiff now asks that the Court reconsider its judgment. The Plaintiff's Motion to Alter, Vacate, or Amend takes issues with the Court's orders on Counts I and III, but does not address Count II. Thus, the only issues now before the Court are whether the Plaintiff has identified sufficient grounds to vacate the Court's Order on Counts I and III. Plaintiff also proposes a new theory that the Department of Aging and Independent Living (DAIL) was his "employer" under the Kentucky Whistleblower Act because under federal and state law.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The standard of review on an FRCP 59(e) Motion to Alter, Vacate, or Amend is well established and the standards for reconsideration are necessarily high. There are only three grounds for a district court to amend its judgment: (1) to accommodate an intervening change in controlling laws; (2) to account for new evidence not available previously; and (3) to correct a clear error of law or to prevent manifest injustice. Berridge v. Heiser, 993 F.Supp. 1136, 1146-47 (S.D. Ohio 1997).

"A motion for reconsideration does not serve as an opportunity to re-argue a case.'" Tritent Int'l Corp. v. Kentucky, 395 F.Supp.2d 521, 523 (E.D. Ky. 2005), quoting Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians v. Engler, 146 F.3d 367, 374 (6th Cir.1998). And a party should not use the motion "to raise ...


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