Johnson v. United States of America et al

Filing 325

Order by Hon. James Donato denying 318 Motion for New Trial. (jdlc1S, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 10/14/2016)

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 JAMES ELLIS JOHNSON, Plaintiff, 8 9 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 Case No. 13-cv-02405-JD ORDER RE: MOTION FOR A NEW TRIAL v. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Re: Dkt. No. 318 Defendant. 12 13 14 On September 13, 2016, pro se plaintiff James Ellis Johnson filed a motion for a new trial under Rule 59(b). Dkt. No. 318. The motion is denied. 15 BACKGROUND 16 On April 25-26, 2016, the Court held a bench trial under the Federal Tort Claims Act 17 (“FTCA”), 28 U.S.C. §§ 2671 et seq., on Johnson’s claims for assault, battery, false arrest and 18 intentional infliction of emotional distress. Twenty witnesses testified, including VA police 19 officers, several treating physicians, Johnson, and two expert witnesses. Dkt. No. 316 ¶ 8. On 20 August 26, 2016, after the close of the parties’ post-trial briefing, the Court issued a 22-page 21 Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law that found against Johnson on the claims for assault, 22 false arrest, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and in favor of Johnson on the claim 23 for battery from being handcuffed for an extended period. Dkt. No. 316. 24 On September 13, 2016, Johnson filed a motion for a new trial. For the most part, the 25 motion repeats Johnson’s prior allegations of collusion between the Court and the U.S. Attorney’s 26 Office, counsel for defendant, along with claims that the trial transcript was “doctored,” Johnson 27 was kept “from sleeping for two days” and was rushed to trial, and overall “corruption” in the 28 1 handling of this case. Dkt. No. 318. The Court has previously considered and denied similar 2 claims on several occasions in this case. See, e.g., Dkt. No. 316 ¶¶ 6-7. 3 Under Rule 59, the authority to grant a new trial “is confided almost entirely to the 4 exercise of discretion on the part of the trial court.” Allied Chem. Corp. v. Daiflon, Inc., 449 U.S. 5 33, 36 (1980). In an action tried without a jury, as this one was, a court may grant a new trial “for 6 any reason for which a rehearing has heretofore been granted in a suit in equity in federal court.” 7 Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(a)(1)(B). More specifically, a new trial in a court-tried action may be granted 8 for: (1) a manifest error of law; (2) a manifest error of fact; or (3) newly discovered evidence. 9 Brown v. Wright, 588 F.2d 708, 710 (9th Cir. 1978). “It is well-settled that Rule 59 is not a vehicle for relitigating old issues, presenting the case under new theories, securing a rehearing on 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 the merits, or otherwise taking a ‘second bite at the apple.’” Sequa Corp. v. GBJ Corp., 156 F.3d 12 136, 144 (2d Cir. 1998). 13 None of Johnson’s arguments comes close to showing manifest error of any sort, and he 14 does not point to any new evidence that would warrant a new trial. At most, he is seeking to 15 relitigate issues decided against him, in some cases on more than one occasion. That is not a basis 16 for a new trial. 17 18 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: October 14, 2016 19 20 JAMES DONATO United States District Judge 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 2

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