In re BLACK FARMERS DISCRIMINATION LITIGATION
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER denying 265 BFAA's Motion for Reconsideration. Signed by Judge Paul L. Friedman on February 10, 2012. (MA)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
In re BLACK FARMERS DISCRIMINATION
Misc. No. 08-0511 (PLF)
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on a Motion for Reconsideration filed by the Black
Farmers and Agriculturalists Association, Inc. (“BFAA”) pursuant to Rule 59(e) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure. See Motion for Reconsideration (Feb. 3, 2012) [Dkt. No. 265]
(“Mot.”). The BFAA asks the Court to reconsider its Order of January 13, 2012, which denied
the BFAA’s Rule 59(e) motion to reconsider the Court’s October 27, 2011 Order and Judgment
approving a settlement in this class action. See In re Black Farmers Discr. Litig., --- F. Supp.
2d ----, 2011 WL 5114830 (D.D.C. Oct. 27, 2011) (Order and Judgment); Motion for
Reconsideration as to the Exclusion of BFAA (Nov. 15, 2011) [Dkt. No. 239]; Opinion and
Order (Jan. 13, 2012) [Dkt. No. 259]. The Court will deny the BFAA’s motion.
An order denying a Rule 59(e) motion qualifies as a “judgment” with respect to
which a subsequent Rule 59(e) motion may be filed. See FED . R. CIV . P. 54(a) (defining
“judgment” to include “any order from which an appeal lies”); FED . R. APP. P. 4(a)(4)(B)(ii)
(indicating that appeal may be taken from an order denying a Rule 59 motion); Derrington-Bey v.
District of Columbia Dep’t of Corrections, 39 F.3d 1224, 1226 (D.C. Cir. 1994) (applying similar
analysis to an order denying a Rule 60(b) motion); see also FED . R. CIV . P. 58(a)(4). The
subsequent Rule 59(e) motion, however, does not bring up the merits of the original Judgment,
but merely those of the order denying the first Rule 59(e) motion.
The BFAA’s first motion for reconsideration asked the Court to amend its
October 2011 Order and Judgment to “include” the BFAA, which had been improperly removed
as a party to the litigation by its former attorneys prior to Judgment. The Court denied that
motion for two reasons. First, the BFAA failed to identify “any harm that it or its members have
suffered or will suffer as a result of its termination from the litigation.” Opinion and Order
(Jan. 13, 2012) [Dkt. No. 259], at 4. Second, the record demonstrated “that the BFAA itself is at
least partly to blame for the fact that this issue was not brought to the Court’s attention before the
entry of Judgment.” Id. In light of these findings, the Court concluded that the BFAA had not
demonstrated entitlement to relief under Rule 59(e) because “no manifest injustice has occurred
requiring the Court to amend its Order and Judgment.” Id. at 16.
In its latest motion, the BFAA asserts that it “can articulate cognizable harm that
BFAA has and will suffer as a result of the improper removal of BFAA and the damages that the
members of the BFAA have suffered and will suffer as a direct result of BFAA’s improper
removal from the case in April of 2011.” Mot. at 1. The BFAA does not describe the harms that
it and its members have suffered or will suffer. Rather, the organization “requests additional
time to file a Memorandum In Support of its Motion for Reconsideration which motion will
provide detailed explanation of the damages suffered by the BFAA and its members as a direct
result of BFAA’s improper exclusion.” Id.
The Court will deny the BFAA’s motion, because even if evidence of the type that
the BFAA promises were to be provided, such evidence would not constitute a basis for
revisiting the Court’s denial of the BFAA’s first motion for reconsideration. Although the Court
explained in its January 2012 Opinion that no evidence of harm resulting from the BFAA’s
removal had been presented, see Opinion and Order (Jan. 13, 2012) [Dkt. No. 259], at 16-18, the
Court continued: “To the extent that the BFAA suffers any adverse consequences from its lack of
party status at the time of Judgment, these consequences do not amount to a manifest injustice
because the BFAA’s own conduct contributed to them.” Id. at 18 (emphasis in original). As the
Court explained, the BFAA admittedly was aware of its termination from the case weeks before
the Court entered Judgment, and with proper diligence it would have been aware months earlier.
The BFAA nevertheless failed to bring this issue to the Court’s attention until after Judgment,
and the organization offered no explanation for its delay. See id. at 13-15, 18-19.
Because the Court has already determined that “any” adverse consequences of the
BFAA’s removal are attributable to the BFAA’s own lack of diligence, and that such
consequences therefore cannot entitle the BFAA to relief under Rule 59(e), the organization’s
present request to supply the Court with details of such consequences is futile. See Piper v. U.S.
Dep’t of Justice, 312 F. Supp. 2d 17, 23 (D.D.C. 2004) (“‘[M]anifest injustice does not exist
where, as here, a party could have easily avoided the outcome, but instead elected not to act until
after a final order had been entered.’”) (quoting Ciralsky v. Central Intelligence Agency, 355
F.3d 661, 671 (D.C. Cir. 2004)).
Accordingly, it is hereby
ORDERED that the BFAA’s Motion for Reconsideration [Dkt. No. 265] is
PAUL L. FRIEDMAN
United States District Judge
DATE: February 10, 2012
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