Rahimi v. San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency

Filing 44

ORDER DENYING RELIEF UNDER RULE 60(B)(1) by Judge Jon S. Tigar denying 38 Motion for Relief Under FRCP 60(b)(I). (Attachments: # 1 Certificate/Proof of Service) (wsn, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 11/27/2017)

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 SAYED BASHIR RAHIMI, Plaintiff, 8 SAN FRANCISCO MUNICIPAL TRANSPORTATION AGENCY, et al., 11 United States District Court Northern District of California ORDER DENYING RELIEF UNDER RULE 60(B)(1) v. 9 10 Case No. 16-cv-02576-JST Re: ECF No. 38 Defendants. 12 Before the Court is Plaintiff’s motion for relief under Rule 60(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of 13 14 Civil Procedure. ECF No. 38. Plaintiff moves the Court for an order granting relief from its 15 previous order granting Defendant’s motion for summary judgment. The Court will deny the 16 motion. 17 I. 18 BACKGROUND Plaintiff in this case is Sayed Rahimi, an Afghani immigrant and taxi driver with 32 years 19 of experience as a driver. ECF No. 38 at 2. Defendant in this case is the San Francisco Municipal 20 Transportation Agency (“SFMTA”). The San Francisco Taxi Commission (“the Commission”), 21 operating under the authority of the SFMTA, revoked Rahimi’s taxi medallion and A-card taxi 22 driver permit in 2008. It alleges that Rahimi repeatedly violated the rules, sexually harassed 23 female passengers and police officers, made false statements, and committed perjury. ECF No. 24 33-2 at 9. The Superior Court of California for the County of San Francisco affirmed the 25 Commission’s decision to revoke Rahimi’s taxi driving privileges in 2010, and the Court of 26 Appeal for the First District of California affirmed in 2011. Id. In March 2016, Rahimi contacted 27 SFMTA to regain his ability to operate a taxi in San Francisco, but he could not complete the 28 testing requirements because he is dyslexic. ECF 32-3 at 14; ECF 32-4 at 10. In May 2016, Rahimi filed this suit pro se against the City and County of San Francisco. 1 2 ECF No. 1. Rahimi alleges that the Defendant violated (1) Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 3 1964 when it revoked his A-Card and taxi medallion, and (2) Title II of the Americans with 4 Disabilities Act (“ADA”) by requiring Rahimi to take a written exam when he sought to renew his 5 A-Card. ECF No. 1 at 4. Defendant answered the Complaint and moved for summary judgment 6 on both of Rahimi’s claims. ECF No. 9; ECF No. 32. Rahimi did not file a timely opposition to 7 the motion. The Court granted Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 37. 8 In this subsequent motion, Rahimi seeks relief from the Summary Judgment Order “due to 9 his mistake, inadvertence, and excusable neglect, and because of []his disability.”1 ECF No. 38 at 2. Rahimi claims he was unable to file a timely opposition to Defendant’s Motion for Summary 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 Judgment because he suffers from dyslexia, he was unable to afford proper legal representation, he 12 needed to care for his sick father, and he was assisted by his family who lack experience or time to 13 deal with these legal issues. Id. at 2-3; ECF No. 41 at 2-3. 14 II. LEGAL STANDARD Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides in relevant part: “On motion 15 16 and just terms, the court may relieve a party or its legal representative from a final judgment, 17 order, or proceeding for . . . mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect” or for “any 18 other reason that justifies relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b). “Neither ignorance nor carelessness on the part of the litigant or his attorney provide 19 20 grounds for relief under Rule 60(b)(1).” Engleson v. Burlington N.R. Co., 972 F.2d 1038, 1043 21 (9th Cir. 1992) (quoting Kagan v. Caterpillar Tractor Co., 795 F.2d 601, 607 (7th Cir. 1986)). 22 Ignorance of the law does not constitute “mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect.” 23 Id. at 1044. Rule 60(b) cannot remedy “[n]eglect or lack of diligence.” Lehman v. United States, 24 154 F.3d 1010, 1017 (9th Cir. 1998); cf. Briones v. Riviera Hotel & Casino, 116 F.3d 379, 382 25 (9th Cir. 1997) (“[A] late filing will ordinarily not be excused by negligence. . . .”). 26 27 28 1 The court received Plaintiff’s supplemental briefings, at ECF Nos. 42, 43, but declines to consider them because Local Rule 7-3(d) prohibits supplemental briefs without Court approval after the filing of the reply. 2 The court examines four factors in determining whether a litigant has shown excusable 1 2 neglect: (1) the danger of prejudice to the non-movant, (2) the length of the delay and its potential 3 impact on judicial proceedings, (3) the reason for the delay, including whether it was within the 4 reasonable control of the movant, and (4) whether the movant acted in good faith. Briones, 116 5 F.3d at 381 (citing Pioneer Inv. Servs. Co. v. Brunswick Assocs. Ltd. P’ship, 507 U.S. 380, 395 6 (1993)). Finally, although Rule 60(b)(6) allows a court to relieve a party from a final judgment for 7 8 “any other reason that justifies relief,” motions on those grounds are to be granted “sparingly as an 9 equitable remedy to prevent manifest injustice.” United States v. Alpine Land & Reservoir Co., 984 F.2d 1047, 1049 (9th Cir. 1993). The moving party must show that “circumstances beyond its 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 control prevented timely action to protect its interests.” Id. 12 III. DISCUSSION 13 In the present motion, Rahimi reasserts claims from his complaint that “the SF taxi 14 commission has violated Rahimi’s Title VI Civil Rights, neglected his Title II ADA rights, 15 withheld pertinent information regarding rights that were allotted to other drivers with the same 16 condition as Rahimi, and repeatedly used different tactics to defame the character of Rahimi in the 17 eyes of the court.” ECF No. 38 at 2. These issues were previously decided in the Order Granting 18 the Motion for Summary Judgment. See ECF No. 37. The proper focus for the present motion is 19 on Plaintiff’s explanation of “mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect,” see Fed. R. 20 Civ. P. 60(b)(1), or on Plaintiff’s explanation of another circumstance beyond his control which 21 “justifies relief,” see Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(6). 22 The Court finds that Rahimi cannot plead mistake, inadvertence, or surprise, nor excusable 23 neglect. See id. The Court also concludes that Rahimi has not met the high burden of showing 24 that “circumstances beyond [his] control prevented timely action.” Alpine Land & Reservoir Co., 25 984 F.2d at 1049. The Court accordingly denies Rahimi’s motion. 26 A. Mistake, Inadvertence, or Surprise 27 Rahimi did not suffer from mistake, inadvertence, or surprise. Rahimi knew that he was 28 required to respond to the City’s motion for summary judgment to avoid dismissal of his 3 1 complaint. See ECF No. 38 at 2 (“While Rahimi was trying to respond to defendant’s Motion of 2 Summary Judgment, he was unable to find adequate help during that time.”). Indeed, he worked 3 with family members and providers of free legal services to draft an opposition. ECF No. 41 at 2- 4 3. 5 B. Excusable Neglect 6 Rahimi’s hardship also does not meet the standard for excusable neglect. In making that 7 determination, the Court examines four nonexclusive factors: (1) the danger of prejudice to the 8 non-movant, (2) the length of the delay and its potential impact on judicial proceedings, (3) the 9 reason for the delay and (4) whether the movant acted in good faith. See Briones, 116 F.3d at 381. The third factor is the most important and does “most of the work.” Rose v. Bank of Am. Corp., 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 No. 5:11-CV-02390-EJD, 2014 WL 3421366, at *2 (N.D. Cal. July 14, 2014) (citing Pincay v. 12 Andrews, 389 F.3d 853, 861 (9th Cir. 2004) (Kozinski, J., dissenting). 13 First, Defendant has not shown a danger of prejudice. To be prejudicial, the setting aside 14 of a judgment or order “must result in greater harm than simply delaying resolution of the case.” 15 TCI Grp. Life Ins. Plan v. Knoebber, 244 F.3d 691, 701 (9th Cir. 2001), as amended on denial of 16 reh’g and reh’g en banc (May 9, 2001), overruled on other grounds as recognized in NewGen, 17 LLC v. Safe Cig, LLC, 840 F.3d 606 (9th Cir. 2016). “The standard is whether [Defendant’s] 18 ability to pursue [its defenses] will be hindered.” Falk v. Allen, 739 F.2d 461, 463 (9th Cir. 1984). 19 For example, a delay is “prejudicial” where it results “‘in tangible harm such as loss of evidence, 20 increased difficulties of discovery, or greater opportunity for fraud or collusion.’” TCI, 244 F.3d 21 at 701. (citation and quotation marks omitted). 22 The only potential prejudice the City points to is that one witness, Jarvis Murray, has left 23 the City’s employ and moved to Southern California. ECF 40-1 at 2. But the City does not say 24 whether Murray’s departure came before or after Rahimi’s motion, and there is no showing that 25 Rahimi’s request to reopen summary judgment leaves the City any worse off than if summary 26 judgment had been litigated on the original schedule. 27 Second, the Court finds that the length of delay would not have a significant impact on 28 judicial proceedings. The Court filed its order granting summary judgment approximately one 4 1 month before Plaintiff filed the present motion. See ECF Nos. 36, 38. The Ninth Circuit has held 2 that a one month delay is not prejudicial. See M.D. v. Newport-Mesa Unified Sch. Dist., 840 F.3d 3 640, 643 (9th Cir. 2016) (collecting cases holding that delays of two days, three days, twelve days, 4 and one month did not prejudice for Rule 60(b)(1)). With regard to the fourth factor, the Court finds no reason to think the Plaintiff acted in 5 6 bad faith. Plaintiff knew about Defendant’s intention to file its summary judgment motion, but his 7 failure to respond resulted from “negligence and carelessness, not from deviousness or 8 willfulness.” See Bateman v. U.S. Postal Service, 231 F.3d 1220, 1225 (9th Cir. 2000). The third and most important factor weighs against granting Rahimi’s motion. Rahimi 9 gives four reasons for not filing a timely summary judgment opposition: (1) his dyslexia 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 prevented him from filing a timely response himself, (2) he did not have the money to hire outside 12 counsel because his taxi medallion was revoked; (3) his family members did not have the time or 13 experience necessary to file a timely response, ECF No. 38 at 17-18; and (4) his hardship in filing 14 his opposition was exacerbated by his father’s illness, ECF No. 41 at 2-3.2 The Court recognizes 15 that Plaintiff suffers from dyslexia. However, courts have rarely granted Rule 60(b)(1) motions on 16 the basis of disability or illness, and even then only in the case of severe injury. See Gravatt v. 17 Paul Revere Life Ins. Co., 101 F. App’x 194, 196 (9th Cir. 2004) (granting Rule 60(b)(1) motion 18 when lawyer had a “serious, debilitating illness, which ultimately resulted in her death”); see also 19 Johnson v. Am. Home Mortg. Corp., No. SACV1601085AGKESX, 2016 WL 9308527, at *1 20 (C.D. Cal. Dec. 5, 2016) (granting Rule 60(b)(1) when plaintiff was suffering from pneumonia). 21 While the Court gives some weight to Rahimi’s other hardships, but these types of hardships are 22 not uncommon and do not excuse the failure to meet a court deadline or seek an extension. 23 Importantly, Rahimi knew about Defendant’s intention to file its summary judgment motion since 24 his attendance at the Case Management Conference on August 17, 2016, but failed to request an 25 extension. See ECF No. 19. Nor is this Rahimi’s first experience with filing deadlines, given the 26 27 28 2 Rahimi made the last argument for the first time in reply. “Generally, the Court does not consider new arguments made for the first time in a reply brief.” Rodman v. Safeway Inc., 125 F. Supp. 3d 922, 930 (N.D. Cal. 2015), aff’d, 694 F. App’x 612 (9th Cir. 2017). 5 1 lengthy, multi-level litigation history of Rahimi’s prior action against the SFMTA. The Court 2 finds Rahimi’s reasons for delay, as a whole, inadequate to show excusable neglect. 3 4 Balancing these factors, the Court finds that Rahimi has not demonstrated excusable neglect. 5 C. Other Reasons Justifying Relief 6 Rahimi has also not shown “any other reason that justifies relief” under Rule 60(b)(6), as 7 motions on those grounds are to be granted “sparingly as an equitable remedy to prevent manifest 8 injustice” and Rahimi has not shown how the denial of his motion would enact manifest injustice. 9 Alpine Land & Reservoir Co., 984 F.2d at 1049. CONCLUSION 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 13 14 15 16 In sum, Rahimi has not established a recognized basis for relief under Rule 60(b). Rahimi’s Rule 60(b) motion is DENIED. IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: November 27, 2017 ______________________________________ JON S. TIGAR United States District Judge 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 6

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