United States District Court, D. Arizona
Gracie M. Reyes, Plaintiff,
City of Phoenix, Defendant.
A. TEILTRORG, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is Plaintiff Gracie M. Reyes'
(“Plaintiff”) Motion to Reinstate Case. (Doc.
19). Plaintiff argues that the judgment of dismissal against
her should be amended and the case reinstated pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“Rule”) 59(b) to
give her the opportunity to present her claim. Plaintiff
asserts that her failure to meet and confer with Defendant
City of Phoenix (“Defendant”) pursuant to Rule
26(f), her failure to expeditiously initiate communications
necessary to prepare the Joint Proposed Case Management Plan
(“Joint Plan”), and her failure to provide good
cause at the May 10, 2018 show cause hearing was due to her
unfamiliarity with the procedures of federal litigation while
proceeding pro se. Having now obtained outside
counsel, Plaintiff argues it is in the interest of justice
that the Court allows her to further prosecute her claims.
Defendant argues that parties proceeding pro se are
not exempt from applicable rules of procedure. Defendant
asserts further that dismissal is an appropriate sanction for
repeatedly failing to comply with Court orders and the motion
to reinstate the case is essentially a motion to reconsider
the Court's initial decision.
was employed by Defendant for over nine years. (Doc. 1 at 2).
Plaintiff filed a complaint pro se on December 22,
2017, alleging claims of retaliation, wrongful termination,
sex discrimination, and emotional distress against Defendant.
(Doc. 1 at 2- 6). Plaintiff thereafter received a multitude
of pro se materials and resources from the Court,
including a link to: (1) the Local Rules of Practice for the
District of Arizona; (2) the Handbook for
Self-Represented Litigants; (3) Frequently Asked
Questions; and (4) Forms for Pro Se Litigants. (Doc.
3 at 6). The Plaintiff was also given notice of the Volunteer
Lawyers Program. (Doc. 3 at 7).
did not serve Defendant until March 21, 2018, three months
after commencing the action. (Doc. 6). Defendant promptly
answered the complaint on March 28, 2018. (Doc. 7). This
response triggered the Mandatory Initial Discovery Pilot
(“MIDP”) under General Order 17-08, (Doc. 4),
requiring initial discovery disclosures from both parties
within 30 days of the response. (Doc. 8 at 3).
March 28, 2018, pursuant to Rule 16, the Court set a
scheduling conference (“Scheduling Conference”)
for May 10, 2018. (Doc. 8). Under Rule 26(f), twenty-one days
before the Scheduling Conference, the parties are to meet and
develop a Joint Plan to be jointly filed not less than ten
days before the Scheduling Conference. (Doc. 8 at 2- 4).
Plaintiff received an Order from the Court stating it is the
responsibility of Plaintiff to “expeditiously
initiate” the communications necessary to prepare the
Joint Plan. (Doc. 8 at 4).
April 27, 2018, the deadline set in the Court's Rule 16
Order, Defendant mailed its MIDP responses to Plaintiff and
filed notice of this with the Court. (Doc. 10). On April 30,
2018, Defendant filed a Rule 26(f) report pursuant to the
MIDP with Defendant's Proposed Discovery Plan. (Doc. 11).
The plan was missing the factual and legal bases for
Plaintiff's claim as well as the discussion and
completion of Plaintiff's MIDP responses. (Doc. 11 at 1,
6). According to Defendant, Plaintiff failed to initiate
communications to prepare the Joint Plan as required by the
Court's Rule 16 Order, and ultimately failed to respond
at all. (Doc. 11 at 1 n.1).
first of multiple attempts to set a date for the Rule 16
Scheduling Conference, Defendant called Plaintiff and left a
message, and followed-up with an email. (Doc. 11, Ex. A). On
April 12, 2017, attorney Lori Brown (“Brown”)
contacted Defendant, purporting to represent Plaintiff, and
requested all relevant documentation and a phone conference
to discuss the case. (Doc. 11, Ex. A at 4). On April 16,
2018, Brown sent a follow-up email to Defendant requesting a
April 17, 2018, Defendant emailed Brown regarding the
approaching filing deadline for the Joint Plan. (Doc. 11, Ex.
A at 2). On April 18, 2018, Plaintiff directly responded to
Defendant and requested a copy of the Scheduling Conference
Plaintiff emailed Defendant stating she had secured Branham
Law Offices PC (“Branham”) as her legal
representation in this case. (Doc. 11, Ex. A at 13). On April
23, 2018, Defendant sent an email to Branham, listing the
upcoming mandatory deadlines under the Court's Rule 16
Order. (Id.) On April 24, 2018, Branham responded to
Defendant stating they were not representing Plaintiff in
this matter. (Id.) Defendant notified Plaintiff that
Branham was not representing her and requested once again to
meet and confer regarding the Joint Plan. (Id.)
April 26, 2018, in response to an email Plaintiff sent that
morning, Defendant provided Plaintiff with the draft Joint
Plan. (Doc. 11, Ex. A at 5). The email from Plaintiff
indicated she believed communication regarding the Joint Plan
was Defendant's responsibility. (Doc. 11, Ex. A at 5).
April 30, 2018, Defendant filed a Notice of Non-Compliance
and a Request for Order to Show Cause because of
Plaintiff's failure to participate in a Rule 26(f)
conference and failure to draft her portion of the Joint
Plan. (Doc. 12). The Court ordered that on May 10, 2018,
Plaintiff appear and show cause why this case should not be
dismissed due to her failure to participate in the
preparation of the Joint Plan. (Doc. 13). Further, the order
stated that failure to respond to the pending partial motion
to dismiss was to be deemed as consent to the motion being
10, 2018, the Court ruled that the Plaintiff did not show
good cause for failing to engage with Defendant in preparing
the Joint Plan and failing to respond to the pending partial
motion to dismiss. (Doc. 16). The Court ordered dismissal of
the case without prejudice and ordered the Clerk of Court to
enter judgment accordingly. (Doc. 16). On May 31, 2018,
Plaintiff filed the Motion to Reinstate Case, currently
pending before this Court. (Doc. 19). On June 18, 2018,
Defendant responded. (Doc. 21).
Plaintiff nor Defendant cites the appropriate standard under
Rule 59(e). Rather, Plaintiff argues it is in the interest of
justice to reinstate the case and continue its prosecution
because of her alleged difficulties in navigating the federal
litigation system as a pro se plaintiff. Now, having
obtained legal counsel, she argues that the judicial leniency
granted to pro se plaintiffs when considering the
sufficiency of pleadings and ...