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Alcegaire v. JBS USA, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

June 19, 2018

JBS USA, LLC, Defendant.


          David J. Hale, Judge United States District Court

         Plaintiff Rozaire Alcegaire has moved to alter or amend the Judgment in this case. (Docket No. 48) Because the Court concludes that it did not clearly err in its previous Memorandum Opinion and Order (D.N. 46), and finds that modification of the Judgment is not necessary to prevent manifest injustice, Alcegaire's motion will be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Alcegaire alleges that JBS interfered with her rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and discharged her in violation of Ky. Rev. Stat. § 342.197 after she filed a workers' compensation claim. (D.N. 1) JBS moved for summary judgment (D.N. 34), arguing that the FMLA interference claim failed as a matter of law because Alcegaire did not suffer from a serious health condition and failed to comply with the company's attendance requirements. (D.N. 36) JBS further argued that Alcegaire's wrongful-discharge claim failed as a matter of law because there was no causal connection between her discharge and her workers' compensation claim. (Id.)

         In a Memorandum Opinion and Order entered September 27, 2017, the Court granted JBS's motion for summary judgment. (D.N. 46) The Court concluded that Alcegaire had not established that she was entitled to leave under the FMLA or that she gave her employer proper notice of her intention to take FMLA leave. (Id., PageID # 307) The Court further concluded that Alcegaire had not shown a causal connection between her workers' compensation claim and her termination and that JBS had shown a legitimate reason for her termination. (Id., PageID # 310) Alcegaire now seeks to alter or amend the Court's Judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e). (D.N. 48)

         II. STANDARD

         “Rule 59(e) allows for reconsideration; it does not permit parties to effectively ‘re-argue a case.'” Howard v. United States, 533 F.3d 472, 475 (6th Cir. 2008) (quoting Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians v. Engler, 146 F.3d 367, 374 (6th Cir. 1998)). A motion under Rule 59(e) may be granted for one of four reasons: “(1) a clear error of law; (2) newly discovered evidence; (3) an intervening change in controlling law; or (4) a need to prevent manifest injustice.” Intera Corp. v. Henderson, 428 F.3d 605, 620 (6th Cir. 2005) (citing GenCorp, Inc. v. Am. Int'l Underwriters, 178 F.3d 804, 834 (6th Cir. 1999)). “To constitute ‘newly discovered evidence, ' the evidence must have been previously unavailable.” GenCorp, Inc., 178 F.3d at 834.


         Alcegaire urges the Court to alter or amend its earlier Judgment in order to correct purported clear errors of fact and law and to prevent manifest injustice.[1] (D.N. 48-1, PageID # 315) First, Alcegaire argues that the Court erred in failing to address the fact that she suffered from a chronic health condition that entitled her to FMLA leave. (Id., PageID # 316) Second, Alcegaire asserts that the Court erred in finding that her employment was terminated for failing to call in her absences. (Id.) Third, Alcegaire argues that the Court erred in relying on Bush v. Compass Group USA, 683 Fed.Appx. 440 (6th Cir. 2017), for the proposition that temporal proximity alone is insufficient to show causation for purposes of a wrongful-discharge claim under Ky. Rev. Stat. § 342.197. (D.N. 48-1, PageID # 316) Finally, Alcegaire seeks to supplement the record. (Id.) The Court will address each alleged ground for relief in turn.

         A. Alcegaire's Health Condition

         The Court rejected Alcegaire's FMLA interference claim in part because it found that she did not have a serious health condition entitling her to FMLA leave. (D.N. 46, PageID # 305) In particular, the Court found that Alcegaire did not qualify as incapacitated under 29 C.F.R. §§ 825.115(a) and 825.113(b). (D.N. 46, PageID # 304-05) Alcegaire now argues that the Court erred in failing to consider whether her condition satisfied the definition of “chronic serious health condition” under a different section of the regulation, 29 C.F.R. § 825.115(c). (D.N. 48-1, PageID # 317)

         At the outset, Alcegaire's argument fails because it was not raised before.[2] See Roger Miller Music, Inc. v. Sony/ATV Publ'g, LLC, 477 F.3d 383, 395 (6th Cir. 2017) (“[U]nder Rule 59(e), parties cannot use a motion for reconsideration to raise new legal arguments that could have been raised before a judgment was issued.”).

         In any event, the Court is unable to conclude that Alcegaire suffered from a chronic serious health condition under § 825.115(c). Alcegaire asserts that she “saw a physician for her back condition on at least three occasions” and that “she was also diagnosed as suffering from arthritis, and advised that she was to be seen in recheck as needed.” (D.N. 48-1, PageID # 318) But “[i]n order to have had a serious health condition, whether chronic or permanent, [Alcegaire] must have been unable to work, attend school, or perform other regular daily activities during the period of [her] leave.” Perry v. Jaguar of Troy, 353 F.3d 510, 515 (6th Cir. 2003); see also Whitworth v. Consol. Biscuit Co., No. 6:06-112-DCR, 2007 WL 1075774, at *5 (E.D. Ky. Apr. 6, 2007) (“If a plaintiff cannot show that he or she had a condition that incapacitated him or her, the Court's inquiry is over and summary judgment is appropriate.” (internal quotation and citation omitted)).

         Here, the evidence shows that doctors twice examined Alcegaire and released her to work, albeit on a modified, sit-down basis.[3] (D.N. 35-2, PageID # 126; D.N. 35-3, PageID # 174-75, 177-78) And while Alcegaire asserted earlier that she “could not perform a regular daily activity, standing, for significant periods, ” she cited no evidence to support her assertion. (See D.N. 42, PageID # 223) Cf. Perry, 353 F.3d at 515-16 (“[Plaintiff] argues that [his son] was incapacitated because he could not perform regular daily activities . . . . [Plaintiff], however, points to no evidence to support ...

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