United States of America v. Roberts
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER re 29 Notice of Request for a Hearing filed by Michael Roberts. Mr. Roberts's belated Request for a Hearing is DENIED. Further, to the extent his communication can be construed as a motion seeking relief unde r Rule 59(e), it is also DENIED. Finally, the Court fully expects Mr. Roberts to comply with all the terms of the Final Judgment and Order of Ejectment previously entered by it including his obligation to vacate Tract T- 15, no later than 5:00 p.m. on January 31, 2017. Signed by Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins on 12/20/2016. (JLC, )
2016 Dec-20 PM 04:33
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
) Case No.: 1:15-CV-1269-VEH
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
A Final Judgment and Order of Ejectment was entered in this action in favor
of Plaintiff and against Defendant Michael Roberts (“Mr. Roberts”) on December 12,
2016. (Doc. 28). The court acknowledges receipt of Mr. Roberts’s communication to
the clerk’s office dated December 12, 2016, and filed on December 14, 2016. (Doc.
29). Within this document, Mr. Roberts indicates that he has evidence to support his
side of this case and requests a hearing date. Id. Because he is representing himself
in this action, the court liberally construes Mr. Roberts’s filing as a Rule 59(e) motion
to alter or amend the Final Judgment and Order of Ejectment. See FED. R. CIV. P.
59(e) (“A motion to alter or amend a judgment must be filed no later than 28 days
after the entry of the judgment.”).
Rule 59(e) Standard
“The decision to alter or amend judgment is committed to the sound discretion
of the district judge and will not be overturned on appeal absent an abuse of
discretion.” Am. Home Assur. Co. v. Glenn Estess & Assocs., Inc., 763 F.2d 1237,
1238-39 (11th Cir. 1985) (citing Futures Trading Comm’n v. Am. Commodities
Group, 753 F.2d 862, 866 (11th Cir. 1984)). “While, as a rule, parties are not entitled
to ‘two bites at the apple’, there are occasions in which reconsideration should be
entertained.” Lussier v. Dugger, 904 F.2d 661, 667 (11th Cir. 1990) (citing Am.
Home, 763 F.2d at 1239).
As the Eleventh Circuit has summarized the limited scope of relief that is
available to a litigant under Rule 59(e):
“The only grounds for granting [a Rule 59] motion are newly-discovered
evidence or manifest errors of law or fact.” In re Kellogg, 197 F.3d
1116, 1119 (11th Cir. 1999). “[A] Rule 59(e) motion [cannot be used]
to relitigate old matters, raise argument or present evidence that could
have been raised prior to the entry of judgment.” Michael Linet, Inc. v.
Village of Wellington, Fla., 408 F.3d 757, 763 (11th Cir. 2005).
Arthur v. King, 500 F.3d 1335, 1343 (11th Cir. 2007); see also Jacobs v.
Tempur-Pedic Int’l, Inc., 626 F.3d 1327, 1344 (11th Cir. 2010) (“Reconsidering the
merits of a judgment, absent a manifest error of law or fact, is not the purpose of Rule
59.”); Stone v. Wall, 135 F.3d 1438, 1442 (11th Cir. 1998) (“The purpose of a Rule
59(e) motion is not to raise an argument that was previously available, but not
Mr. Roberts’s single-page communication to the clerk indicates that “some
copies of proof w[ere] sent to Dan [L]ong in this case claiming [sic] he never received
it.” (Doc. 29 at 1). The letter then suggests that “[d]ue to these errors [Mr. Roberts]
eventually received a letter from the [Plaintiff] putting claim to [his] property” and
also expressly requests a hearing. Id. Regardless of their merit, Mr. Roberts’s points
fall short of reaching the Rule 59(e) discretionary standard. Importantly, Mr. Roberts
does not claim that the ambiguously referenced evidence was recently discovered or
that the court’s failure to hold an evidentiary hearing would somehow constitute
Moreover, the deadline for Mr. Roberts to oppose Plaintiff’s Motion for
Summary Judgment, including filing any evidence helpful to his position, ran over
four months ago–on August 15, 2016. (Doc. 25 at 2). The record shows that, on July
8, 2016, Mr. Roberts received delivery of the Notice and Scheduling Order which
established his August opposition deadline. (Doc. 26 at 2). Yet, despite receiving this
notice and learning about the serious consequences of offering no opposition to
Plaintiff’s Rule 56 efforts, he filed nothing. Setting this case for a hearing now and
reconsidering the merits of the Final Judgment and Order of Ejectment would
inappropriately reward Mr. Roberts with a second bite of the apple when he never
even bothered to take advantage of the first bite. See Dugger, supra. Therefore,
having slept on his rights to contest Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment in
August, the court concludes that Mr. Roberts is without good grounds to support his
request for a hearing or any purported Rule 59(e) relief and rejects both.
Thus, Mr. Roberts’s belated request for a hearing is DENIED. Further, to the
extent his communication can be construed as a motion seeking relief under Rule
59(e), it is also DENIED. Finally, the court fully expects Mr. Roberts to comply with
all the terms of the Final Judgment and Order of Ejectment previously entered by it
including his obligation to vacate Tract T-15, no later than 5:00 p.m. on January
31, 2017. As set forth in the Final Judgment and Order of Ejectment, Mr. Roberts’s
violation of this firm deadline to fully remove himself and any of his personal
belongings from the federally-owned property would warrant further relief for
Plaintiff, including, but not limited to, an order requiring Mr. Roberts to
reimburse Plaintiff for any reasonable cleanup costs associated with the
restoration of Tract T-15.
DONE and ORDERED this 20th day of December, 2016.
VIRGINIA EMERSON HOPKINS
United States District Judge
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