United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
A. GIBNEY, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
plaintiff, Dr. Saied Emami, a former aerospace engineer for
the National Aeronautics & Space Administration
("NASA"), brought this case under Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964. After two days of a jury trial, the
Court granted the defendant's motion for judgment as a
matter of law after the close of the plaintiffs evidence.
Emami now moves the Court to amend that judgment or grant a
new trial under Rule 59. The Court denies the motion because
Emami failed to file it within the time limits imposed by the
Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure. The Court instead
interprets the motion as one under Rule 60(b), and denies
that motion on the merits.
filed his original complaint against NASA on January 23.
2015, with the help of counsel, under Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964. He claims that NASA placed him on a
performance improvement plan ("PIP") in his
position as an Aerospace Engineer, and then terminated him,
based on his religion and national origin.
trial, the Court entered a Rule 16(b) Scheduling Order
setting cut of dates for discovery, and deadlines to file
witness and exhibit lists and other documents relevant to
trial. The Rule 16(b) Order also set a Final Pretrial
Conference on October 21, 2016, and the trial on November 1,
2016. (Dk. No. 36.) After discovery, both parties timely
submitted all pretrial disclosures. The defendant filed a
second motion for summary judgment along with other motions,
causing the Court to remove the case from the trial calendar
pending resolution of those motions. (Dk. No. 80.)
denying the motion for summary judgment on March 10, 2017,
the Court amended the Rule 16(b) Scheduling Order and
rescheduled the Final Pretrial Conference for July 14, 2017,
and the trial for August 1, 2017. (Dk. Nos. 95, 96.) On June
6, 2017, the Court granted Emami's lawyers' motion to
withdraw. (Dk. No. 101.) Moving forward pro se, Emami made
multiple attempts to supplement discovery and disclosures for
trial. The Court made clear, however, that setting the
supplemental Final Pretrial Conference did not reset
discovery deadlines and repeatedly denied Emami's
attempts to supplement discovery disclosures. (Dk. Nos. 107,
108, 131, 140.)
trial commenced on August 1, 2017. On the first day, the
plaintiff called his retained expert, Dr. Farid Miandoab, as
a witness. Later, the Court denied Emami's attempt to
call Dr. Jose Goity, a second expert witness, because the
Court deemed the testimony cumulative and duplicative of Dr.
Miandoab's testimony. At the close of the plaintiffs
evidence on August 2, 2017, the Court granted the
defendant's motion for judgment as a matter of law
because Emami had failed to set out facts to make a prima
facie case of discrimination based on either religion or
national origin. The Court entered judgment on August 3,
2018. (Dk. No. 138.)
then moved the Court to alter or amend its judgment and for a
new trial in a 77-page motion on September 1, 2018. The Court
allowed Emami to amend the motion, which he did on October
23, 2017. (Dk. No. 149.) The Court denies the motion because
Emami filed his initial motion outside of the time frame
permitted by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 59 and
because, even interpreting his untimely Rule 59 motion as a
timely Rule 60(b) motion, his arguments fail on the merits.
Court liberally construes Emami's motion as one for both
a new trial under Rule 59(a) and an altered or amended
judgment under Rule 59(e). The Court denies the motion on
both grounds because the motion falls outside of the
mandatory 28-day time period. The Court instead treats the
motion as one under Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, and denies that motion because none of his
concerns warrant relief under that rule.
Emami Filed his Rule 59 Motion Out of Time
(b) and (e) impose strict 28-day time limits on motions for a
new trial and to alter or amend a judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P.
6(b)(2): Goodman v. Everett, 388 Fed.Appx. 269, 270
(4th Cir. 2010) ("[T]he district court is without
jurisdiction to extend this time period.") The three-day
extension granted to pro se litigants served by mail does not
apply to Rule 59. Rozzelle v. University of North
Carolina at Charlotte, et al., No. 3-15CV00050MOCDSC,
2015 WL 12911716, at *1 (W.D. N.C. Dec. 7, 2015), affd sub
nom. Rozzelle v. University of North Carolina, 646
Fed.Appx. 336 (4th Cir. 2016)).
case, the Court entered its final judgment on August 3, 2017.
The deadline to file a Rule 59 motion was August 31, 2017.
Emami filed his initial Rule 59 motion one day late on
September 1, 2017. The Court cannot grant even a one day
extension, and his motion fails.