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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. M.G. Oil Co.

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division

January 25, 2018

EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Plaintiff,
v.
M.G. OIL COMPANY, d/b/a HAPPY JACK'S, Defendant

          ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION AND DENYING MOTION TO CERTIFY JUDGMENT

          KAREN E. SCHREIER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On August 10, 2017, the court entered order granting motions to strike and dismiss defendant, M.G. Oil Company's, third-party complaint. Docket 23. On that same date, the court also entered a judgment dismissing TestPoint Paramedical, LLC as a third-party defendant. Docket 24. M.G. Oil now moves for reconsideration of the court's August 10, 2017 order or, in the alternative, for an order certifying that the court's judgment dismissing TestPoint was a final judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b). Docket 27. Plaintiff, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and TestPoint oppose M.G. Oil's motion. For the reasons that follow, the court denies M.G. Oil's motion.

         BACKGROUND

         On April 8, 2013, Kim Mullaney applied for a job in Sioux Falls, South Dakota with Happy Jack's, which is owned by M.G. Oil. Docket 2 ¶15. Contingent on the successful completion of a drug test, Mullaney was offered a position with M.G. Oil. Id. Mullaney took her drug test on April 9, 2013. Id.

         At the time Mullaney took her drug test, M.G. Oil had a contract with TestPoint to have TestPoint analyze the drug tests of M.G. Oil's prospective employees. Docket 7 ¶ 4. Under this contract, TestPoint was required to inform M.G. Oil whether the prospective employee's test results were negative or non-negative for drugs. Id. M.G. Oil asserts that before TestPoint shared the results of a prospective employee's drug test with M.G. Oil, TestPoint was required to send all non-negative drug tests to a medical review officer to determine whether the non-negative result was caused by the prospective employee's lawful use of a prescription drug. Id. ¶ 5. Whenever a prospective employee's non-negative result was caused by lawful use of a prescription drug, TestPoint was required to report the test result to M.G. Oil as negative. Id. ¶ 6. Per M.G. Oil's company policy, if a prospective employee's drug test was reported to M.G. Oil as non-negative, M.G. Oil would terminate the conditional offer of employment. Docket 2 ¶ 17; Docket 7 ¶ 10.

         TestPoint reported to M.G. Oil that Mullaney's drug test result was non-negative. Docket 2 ¶ 17; Docket 7 ¶ 9. Because Mullaney's drug test result was non-negative, M.G. Oil withdrew its conditional offer of employment consistent with the company's drug test policy. Docket 2 ¶ 17; Docket 7 ¶ 10. M.G. Oil contends that when it withdrew Mullaney's conditional offer of employment, TestPoint provided no indication that Mullaney's drug test had not been sent to a medical review officer to verify the result. Docket 7 ¶ 9.

         Mullaney claims she is a disabled person under Sections 3 and 101(8) of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12102 and 12111(8), and has impairments of her neck and back. Docket 2 ¶ 14. Mullaney alleges that after M.G. Oil withdrew her employment offer she explained to M.G. Oil that the non-negative drug test result was caused by her lawful use of a prescription pain killer that she took to manage her impairments. Id. ¶ 18. Mullaney also claims that despite her explanation, M.G. Oil refused to reconsider its decision not to rehire her. Id. ¶ 20.

         Claiming to fit the ADA's disabled person description, Mullaney filed her charge against M.G. Oil with the EEOC. Id. ¶ 7. On Mullaney's behalf, the EEOC sent a conciliation letter to M.G. Oil, alerting the company of the alleged discriminatory actions that it took against Mullaney and seeking appropriate relief. Id. ¶ 8. M.G. Oil and the EEOC could not reach an agreement about how to resolve Mullaney's complaint with M.G. Oil. Id. ¶ 10. After the EEOC's letter concerning Mullaney's alleged discrimination failed to resolve the dispute, the EEOC filed suit against M.G. Oil on Mullaney's behalf. Id. ¶¶ 9-10.

         The EEOC's complaint alleges that M.G. Oil has discriminated against Mullaney and has used unlawful employment practices both in violation of Title I of the ADA. Id. ¶¶ 3, 12. In response to these allegations, M.G. Oil filed a third-party complaint against TestPoint, claiming that if M.G. Oil was found to be liable to Mullaney for discrimination, then TestPoint was liable to it for all (indemnification) or part (contribution) of the judgment because TestPoint breached its contract with M.G. Oil and was negligent. Docket 7 ¶¶ 13-23. The EEOC moved to strike M.G. Oil's third-party complaint. Docket 11. And TestPoint moved to dismiss M.G. Oil's third-party complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Docket 14.

         On August 10, 2017, the court entered order granting the EEOC's motion to strike and granting TestPoint's motion to dismiss M.G. Oil's third-party complaint. Docket 23. In granting these motions, the court relied upon the United States Supreme Court's decision in Northwest Airlines, Inc. v. Transport Workers Union, 451 U.S. 77 (1981), and upon the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit's decision in Travelers Casualty & Surety Co. of America v. IADA Services., Inc., 497 F.3d 862 (8th Cir. 2007). See Docket 23 at 5-8. In fact, the court concluded that the impact of the decisions in Northwest Airlines and Travelers required the court, reasoning by analogy, to conclude that M.G. Oil's third-party claims for contribution and indemnification were impermissible under Title I of the ADA. Id. at 9 (citing Nw. Airlines, 451 U.S. at 98 and Travelers, 497 F.3d 867-68).

         LEGAL STANDARD

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure generally do not recognize uniform standards for a court to analyze a motion to reconsider. In this case, M.G. Oil brings its motion to reconsider under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b), which provides that “any order or other decision . . . that adjudicates fewer than all the claims or the rights and liabilities of fewer than all the parties . . . may be revised at any time before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all the claims and all the parties' rights and liabilities.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b); see also Julianello v. K-V Pharm. Co., 791 F.3d 915, 923 n.3 (8th Cir. 2015) (noting that Rule 54(b) is the appropriate rule under which to bring a motion to reconsider when final judgment has not been entered on any of plaintiff's claims). Under Rule 54(b), district courts have “the inherent power to reconsider and modify an interlocutory order any time prior to the entry of judgment.” K.C.1986 Ltd. P'ship v. Reade Mfg., 472 F.3d 1009, 1017 (8th Cir. 2007) (quotation and citation omitted). “While the specific standard for a motion made under Rule 54(b) is unclear, generally courts have found the standard . . . ‘to be less exacting than would be a motion under Federal Rule of Procedure 59(e), which is in turn less exacting than the standards enunciated in Federal Rule of Procedure 60(b).' ” Planned Parenthood Minn., N.D. v. Daugaard, 946 F.Supp.2d 913, 925 (D.S.D. 2013) (quoting Colombe v. Rosebud Sioux Tribe, 835 F.Supp.2d 736, 750 (D.S.D. 2011), overruled on other grounds by Colombe v. Rosebud Sioux Tribe, 747 F.3d 1020 (8th Cir. 2014)); see also Doctor John's, Inc. v. City of Sioux City, 438 F.Supp.2d 1005, 1027 (N.D. Iowa 2006). Although the court's reconsideration of interlocutory orders might be less rigorous than that of final orders for Rules 59(e) or 60(b), courts “should look to the kinds of consideration under those rules for guidance.” Doctor John's, 438 F.Supp.2d at 1027 (quotation and citation omitted). Like other motions to reconsider, “[i]t is generally held that a court may amend or reconsider any ruling under Rule 54(b) to correct any clearly or manifestly erroneous findings of facts or conclusions of law.” Jones v. Casey's Gen. Stores, 551 F.Supp.2d 848, 854 (S.D. Iowa 2008) (quotations and citation omitted).

         DISCUSSION

         I. ...


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