United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London
DR. JAMES TAYLOR and MRS. DINAH TAYLOR, Plaintiffs,
UNIVERSITY OF THE CUMBERLANDS, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
Gregory F. Van Tatenhove United States District Judge.
parties seek reconsideration [R. 112; R. 113] of the
Court's September 7, 2018, order granting partial summary
judgment [R. 105] for the Defendant. The Plaintiffs also seek
leave to amend their complaint for the third time. For the
reasons stated below, Plaintiffs' motions are
DENIED and the Defendant's motion is
lengthy recitation of the facts is unnecessary. However, a
brief outline is provided below. All other facts are
incorporated by reference in this order.
James Taylor served as the President of the University of the
Cumberlands for 35 years before retiring from that role in
October 2015. [R.70 at 4.] According to Dr. Taylor, he then
assumed the role of Chancellor, a position that he alleges
was created for him. [R. 81 at 4.]
Dr. Taylor served in his new position with the University,
the school retained Phillip Blount and Associates, Inc.,
which provided to the University an opinion on an
“appropriate Total Reportable Compensation range for a
Chancellor with the part-time job description provided. . .
.” [R. 81-36.] According to Phillip Blount and
Associates, Inc., an appropriate Total Reportable
Compensation for Dr. Taylor as Chancellor with part-time
responsibilities ranges between $125, 000 and $145, 000.
[Id. at 4.] This assumed a guaranteed one-year term
of employment, which would be subject to renewal based on
performance. [Id.] If, however, the term of
employment was extended to two years, regardless of
performance, the appropriate Total Reportable Compensation
range would be adjusted to $90, 000 to $108, 000 per year.
March 2016, the ad hoc sub-committee made a recommendation to
the Executive Committee that, among other things, the
University continue to employ Dr. Taylor “to promote
the interests of the University on substantially the terms
and conditions set out on the attached Exhibit to this
recommendation, subject to his written acceptance of the
offer.” [R. 81-3.] However, the exhibit is not included
in the record. Additionally, no member of the subcommittee or
the Executive Committee signed the recommendation, and there
is no indication whether the recommendation was approved.
early April 2016, the University, through counsel, offered
Dr. Taylor a one-year contract as Chancellor with a
compensation package totaling approximately $152, 000. [R.
70-8; R. 81-37.] Dr. Taylor rejected the offer and his role
with the University, whether as Chancellor or otherwise, was
“terminated on or about April 6, 2016.” [R. 70-8
at 3.] The Taylors sued approximately two months later. [R.
81 at 26; R. 1.] The Taylors allege that they are entitled to
Dr. Taylor's full salary for both of their lives because
the University's Board of Trustees, on three occasions,
unanimously voted “to pay Dr. Taylor for his service as
Chancellor the same salary or benefits he was receiving when
he stepped down as President.” [R. 81 at 4, 9.]
Therefore, the compensation package offered by the University
was substantially less than the Taylors believe they are
entitled. The University responded to the suit two days later
by releasing a press release with their version of the facts
and circumstances. [R. 70-29.] It is this press release that
forms the basis of the Taylors slander claim.
the University moved to dismiss this action for failure to
state a claim alleging the Disputed Agreement lacked valid
consideration. [R. 12.] The University also claimed the
Disputed Agreement was unenforceable as a matter of law as it
was “terminable at will . . . because it has no
definite end date but instead purports to require the
University to continue paying Dr. and Mrs. Taylor into
perpetuity.” [Id. at 2.] Furthermore,
according to the University, the remaining claims built upon
the enforceability of the Disputed Agreement and therefore
should also be dismissed. [Id. at 10, n.4.] The
Court rejected these claims and denied the University's
Motion as to the Taylors' claims of breach of contract,
promissory estoppel, slander, intentional infliction of
emotional distress, punitive damages, and reformation. [R.
the Taylors moved for summary judgment alleging the
University's former Chairman of the Board of Trustees,
Dr. Jim Oaks, had apparent authority to bind the University
to the Disputed Agreement. [R. 38.] However, the Court found
there to be a genuine issue as to whether Dr. Oaks had such
apparent authority and, thus, denied the Taylors' motion.
University then moved for summary judgment claiming the
Disputed Agreement is unenforceable as a matter of law
because it is not supported by valid consideration. [R. 70 at
22-26.] Additionally, the University argued that summary
judgment was appropriate on the Taylors' claims of
slander, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and
reformation because there exists no evidence to support those
claims. [Id. at 26-39.] The Court agreed with the
University on each of these claims except for the Taylors
claim for breach of contract. [R. 105.] The University now
asks for the Court to dismiss the breach of contract claim
for a third time. [R. 123.] The Taylors, likewise, ask for
reconsideration of their slander claim or in the alternative
to be given leave to amend their complaint for a third time.
to alter or amend a judgment will be granted only when there
“is a clear error of law, newly discovered evidence, an
intervening change of law, or to prevent manifest
injustice.” GenCorp, Inc. v. Am. Int'l
Underwriters,178 F.3d 804, 834 (6th Cir. 1999).
Rearguing the merits of a petitioner's claims is not an
appropriate use of a motion to alter or amend. See Sault
Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians v. Engler, 146 F.3d
367, 374 (6th Cir. 1998) (“A motion under Rule 59(e) is
not an opportunity to re-argue a case.”). Additionally,
petitioners may not raise arguments under Rule 59(e) that
they failed to raise prior to the district court's order.
See Id. (quoting FDIC v. World Univ. Inc.,
978 F.2d 10, 16 (1st Cir. 1992). Amending or ...