Rumanek v. Independent School Management Inc., 080318 FED3, 17-3639

Docket Nº:17-3639
Opinion Judge:PER CURIAM
Party Name:SANDRA RUMANEK, Appellant v. INDEPENDENT SCHOOL MANAGEMENT INC.
Judge Panel:Before: MCKEE, VANASKIE and SCIRICA, Circuit Judges
Case Date:August 03, 2018
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
 
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SANDRA RUMANEK, Appellant

v.

INDEPENDENT SCHOOL MANAGEMENT INC.

No. 17-3639

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit

August 3, 2018

NOT PRECEDENTIAL

Submitted for Possible Summary Action Pursuant to Third Circuit L.A.R. 27.4 and I.O.P. 10.6 March 29, 2018

On Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Delaware (D.C. Civil No. 1-12-cv-00759) District Judge: Honorable Christopher C. Conner

Before: MCKEE, VANASKIE and SCIRICA, Circuit Judges

OPINION [*]

PER CURIAM

Sandra Rumanek appeals an order of the District Court denying her motion for relief under Rule 60 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The defendant in the underlying litigation, Independent School Management, Inc. ("ISM"), has moved for summary affirmance. Rumanek has cross-moved for summary reversal.1 For the reasons that follow, we will grant ISM's motion and deny Rumanek's.

In 2012, Rumanek filed suit in the District of Delaware against ISM-her former employer-under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. Rumanek alleged in her complaint that ISM retaliated against her for, among other things, requesting an accommodation for short-term memory issues related to two car accidents.

Rumanek's suit was assigned to Magistrate Judge Sherry R. Fallon for case-management purposes. During an initial Rule 16(b) conference, Judge Fallon directed counsel for the parties to decide whether to consent to disposition of the entire case by a Magistrate Judge, rather than a District Judge. In addition, Judge Fallon touched on the issue of conflicts, explaining that she was new to the bench, and that before her appointment she had practiced at a firm representing insurance companies in defense of personal injury suits. Judge Fallon stated that while she no longer had "access to the firm's database to check for any potential conflicts," Rumanek's name "seems to have familiarity to me . . ." On that basis, Judge Fallon asked plaintiff's counsel to confer with Rumanek to see if the name "Sherry Ruggiero Fallon . . . rings a bell with her."2 Judge Fallon postulated that "it may not be anything beyond a defense of an auto accident case," and that "I probably would have referred it to an associate in my office to handle short of a jury trial." Soon after the conference, ISM and Rumanek jointly filed AO Form 85, consenting to referral of all proceedings to Judge Fallon.

During the discovery phase of the case it was revealed that Judge Fallon, while in private practice, had entered an appearance as defense counsel in a personal injury suit filed by Rumanek concerning her car accidents. Conferring with all counsel, Judge Fallon stated near the end of a hearing on an unrelated discovery dispute that she had "no recollection of Ms. Rumanek" and thought this was a...

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