United States District Court, D. Maine
JOHN G. LABRECQUE, Plaintiff,
SEAN J. STACKLEY, Defendant.
ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR EXPEDITED SCREENING AND
DENYING MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION
A. WOODCOCK, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Plaintiff, an employee at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard,
alleges that shortly after he complained to the Equal
Employment Opportunity (EEO) Office about age discrimination
and was promoted to a supervisory position, he was subjected
to retaliation and a hostile work environment. The Navy moved
for summary judgment on the claims, which the Court granted.
Following the Court's Order, the Plaintiff's counsel
withdrew from representation, and the Plaintiff then moved
pro se for reconsideration. Although framed as a motion for
reconsideration, the Plaintiff's motion is in essence a
vehicle to complain about his prior lawyers. Concluding that
the gravamen of the Plaintiff's complaint is really about
the enacted law, not his former lawyers, the Court concludes
that his motion does not state a proper basis for relief
under Rule 60(b) and denies the motion for reconsideration.
LaBrecque filed an Amended Complaint on July 27, 2015
alleging one count of retaliation by the Navy under the Age
Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C.
§§ 621 et seq. Pl.'s Am. Compl. (ECF
No. 19). The Navy moved for summary judgment on April 25,
2016. Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. (ECF No. 51). The
Court granted the Navy's motion on February 16, 2017,
Order on Mot. for Summ. J. (ECF No. 74)
(Order), and the Clerk of the Court entered judgment
in favor of the Secretary of the Navy and against John G.
LaBrecque on the same day. J. (ECF No. 75).
March 2, 2017, Mr. LaBrecque's attorneys filed a motion
to withdraw as counsel for Mr. LaBrecque, Mot. for Leave
to Withdraw as Counsel for the Pl. (ECF No. 76), which
the Court granted the following day. Order Granting Mot.
to Withdraw (ECF No. 77).
April 12, 2017, Mr. LaBrecque filed a pro se letter motion
asking the Court to reconsider its summary judgment order and
the judgment against him. Mot. for Recons. (ECF No. 80)
(Pl.'s Mot.). Additionally, on April 17, 2017,
Mr. LaBrecque appealed the Court's order and judgment to
the First Circuit. Notice of Appeal (ECF No. 81). On
April 19, 2017, the Navy objected to Mr. LaBrecque's
motion for reconsideration and requested an expedited
screening of the motion. Def.'s Req. for Expedited
Screening of Pl.'s Mot. for Recons. and Order Directing
Pl. to File a Redacted Version of ECF 80 (ECF No. 86)
(Def.'s Opp'n); Mot. for Order for
Expedited Screening Pursuant to Rule 62.1 (ECF No. 87).
The Order Granting the Motion for Summary Judgment
February 16, 2017, the Court issued an order granting the
Navy's motion for summary judgment. Order at
1-72. The Court concluded that Mr. LaBrecque failed to
demonstrate any disputes of material fact that would allow a
reasonable factfinder to conclude that any of the adverse
actions taken against him were causally connected to his EEO
age discrimination complaints. Id. The Court also
concluded that Mr. LaBrecque failed to produce sufficient
facts from which a reasonable factfinder could conclude there
was severe, pervasive harassment on the basis of age giving
rise to a hostile work environment. Id.
John G. LaBrecque's Motion to
LaBrecque filed a pro se letter asking the Court to
reconsider the summary judgment order and judgment against
him. Pl.'s Mot. at 1. Mr. LaBrecque attached
several documents to the motion, id. at 3-25, and
explained his reasons for requesting reconsideration.
Id. at 2. Mr. LaBrecque expressed considerable
frustration and dissatisfaction with his prior counsel and
emphasized certain points of strenuous disagreement with some
of the evidence in the summary judgment record. Id.
Specifically, Mr. LaBrecque disagreed with his prior
counsel's decision not to depose and use the testimony of
certain witnesses. Id. He was also upset about his
prior counsel's failure to present certain evidence
regarding an allegedly forged signature on his April 21, 2011
performance appraisal. Id. Mr. LaBrecque also
included evidence to support his allegation that the Shipyard
shredded his doctors' notes and expressed privacy
concerns over this act. Id. Finally, Mr. LaBrecque
expressed dissatisfaction with his prior counsel's
failure to press for a trial by jury and to communicate with
him throughout the case. Id.
The Navy's Motion for Expedited Screening and
that Mr. LaBrecque asked this Court to reconsider the summary
judgment order and judgment pursuant to Rule 60(b), and then
appealed the order and judgment to the First Circuit shortly
thereafter, the Navy requests that the Court expeditiously
review Mr. LaBrecque's motion pursuant to Rule
62.1(a)(2). Def.'s Opp'n at 4.
Navy also requests that the Court deny the motion.
Id. It explains that relief under Rule 60(b) is
“extraordinary in nature” and that “motions
invoking that rule should be granted sparingly.”
Id. It contends that Mr. LaBrecque falls short of
meeting this standard, arguing that his perceived
inadequacies of his former attorneys and their tactical
decisions do not warrant relief under the Rule. Id.
at 4- 5.
Motion for Expedited Screening
days after Mr. LaBrecque filed his motion for reconsideration
of the summary judgment order and judgment, he appealed the
order and judgment to the First Circuit. See Notice of
Appeal (ECF No. 81). As the Navy points out, ordinarily
the filing of a notice of appeal divests the district court
of jurisdiction “to proceed with respect to any matter
touching upon, or involved in, the appeal.” United
States v. George, 841 F.3d 55, 71 (1st Cir. 2016)
(citations omitted). However, there is an exception to this
principle for Rule 60(b) motions. The First Circuit has held
that district courts may consider and deny Rule 60(b) motions
without seeking leave of the appellate court to do so; a
district court need only seek leave if it is inclined to
grant the motion. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico v. SS Zoe
Colocotroni, 601 F.2d 39, 41 (1st Cir. 1979). The First
Circuit laid out the procedural rule for these situations:
[W]hen an appeal is pending from a final judgment, parties
may file Rule 60(b) motions directly in the district court
without seeking prior leave from us. The district court is
directed to review any such motions expeditiously, within a
few days of their filing, and quickly deny those which appear
to be without merit, bearing in mind that any delay in ruling
could delay the pending appeal. If the district court is
inclined to grant the motion, it should issue a brief
memorandum so indicating. Armed with this, movant may then
request this court to remand the action so that the district
court can vacate judgment and proceed with the action
Id. at 42.
procedure is found in Rule 62.1 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. According to Rule 62.1: “If a timely motion
is made for relief that the court lacks authority to grant
because of an appeal that has been docketed and is pending,
the court may: (1) defer considering the motion; (2) deny the
motion; or (3) state either that it would grant the motion if
the court of appeals remands for that purpose or that the
motion raises a substantial issue.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
the current procedural posture of the case, the Court GRANTS
the Navy's Motion for Order for Expedited ...