PEARSON v. TAYLOR et al
ORDER denying 100 Motion to Alter Judgment; denying 101 Motion ; denying 111 Motion. Ordered by U.S. District Judge HUGH LAWSON on 1/6/2015 (aks)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
Civil Action No. 7:13-CV-26 (HL)
CEDRIC TAYLOR, et al.,
This case is before the Court on Plaintiff’s Motion for Reconsideration to
Alter Judgment (Doc. 100), Motion for Relief from the Judgment and Order of the
District Court (Doc. 101), and Motion for Relief from Judgment and Order (Doc.
111). For the following reasons, the Court denies each of Plaintiff’s motions.
Motion for Reconsideration to Alter Judgment (Doc. 100)
In Plaintiff’s first motion for reconsideration (Doc. 100), he asks the Court
to reconsider its May 30, 2014 orders (Docs. 85, 86) adopting United States
Magistrate Judge Thomas Q. Langstaff’s recommendation to grant Defendants
Taylor, Orr, and Philbin’s motions to dismiss (Doc. 74) and Defendant Weston’s
motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 75). Plaintiff contends that the Court
misapplied the legal standard for an excessive force claim, which resulted in
manifest injustice to Plaintiff.
Local Rule 7.6 provides:
Motions for Reconsideration shall not be filed as a matter of
routine practice. Whenever a party or attorney for a party
believes it is absolutely necessary to file a motion to
reconsider an order or judgment, the motion shall be filed with
the Clerk of court within fourteen (14) days after entry of the
order or judgment.
M.D. Ga. L.R. 7.6.
Alternatively, under Rule 59(e), a party may file a motion to alter or amend
a judgment no later than 28 days after the entry of the judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P.
59(e). The Eleventh Circuit has held that the only grounds for granting such a
motion are newly-discovered evidence or manifest errors of law or fact. Stabb v.
GMAC Mortg., LLC, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 16081, at *6 (11th Cir. Aug. 21, 2014)
(citing Arthur v. King, 500 F.3d 1335, 1343 (11th Cir. 2007)). A Rule 59(e) motion
is not an appropriate mechanism to “relitigate old matters, raise arguments, or
present evidence that could have been raised prior to the entry of judgment.” Id.;
see also Pennamon v. United Bank, 2009 WL 2355816, at *1 (M.D. Ga. July 28,
2009) (quoting Am. Ass’n of People with Disabilities v. Hood, 278 F.Supp.2d
1337, 1340 (M.D. Fla. 2003)) (“[A] motion for reconsideration does not provide an
opportunity to simply reargue the issue the Court has once determined.”).
The Court denies Plaintiff’s motion for two reasons. First, Plaintiff’s motion
is untimely under the timeframes established by both the local rules and the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Court entered the orders in question on
May 30, 2014. Judgment was entered in favor of all Defendants on that same
date. In the case of a pro se inmate, the Eleventh Circuit requires application of
the mailbox rule when determining when an inmate filed a pleading. Day v. Hall,
528 F.3d 1315, 1318 (11th Cir. 2008). A prisoner’s pleading is considered filed
on the date he delivers the document to the prison mailroom. Id. The Court may
presume that the prisoner delivered the pleading for filing the same day he
signed the document: “Absent evidence to the contrary in the form of prison logs
or other records, we will assume that [the prisoner’s] motion was delivered to
prison authorities the day . . . signed.” Washington v. United States, 243 F.3d
1299, 1301 (11th Cir. 2001). Here, Plaintiff signed his motion for reconsideration
on October 25, 2014, almost three months after entry of the judgment, well
outside the 14 or 28 day requirements. The Court therefore denies Plaintiff’s
motion as untimely.
Further, Plaintiff has not produced any new evidence or pointed to any
manifest error of law or fact in the Court’s order. Rather, Plaintiff merely rehashes
old arguments against Defendants’ dispositive motions. Finding no other basis on
which the court should alter or amend the judgment, Plaintiff’s motion is denied.
Motion for Relief from the Judgment and Order of the District Court
Plaintiff next moves pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) for
relief from the Court’s May 30, 2014, Judgment (Doc. 87), in which he reiterates
in large part the same arguments as those set forth in his motion for
reconsideration. Plaintiff also takes issue with the Court granting Defendants’
dispositive motions based on his contention that the Magistrate abused his
discretion by not granting Plaintiff’s motions for default judgment against
Defendants Taylor and Weston.
Rule 60(b) provides that the court may relieve a party from a final judgment
for the following reasons:
(1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect;
(2) newly discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence,
could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial
under Rule 59(b);
(3) fraud . . ., misrepresentation, or misconduct by an
(4) the judgment is void;
(5) the judgment has been satisfied, released, or discharged; it
is based on an earlier judgment that has been reversed or
vacated; or applying it prospectively is no longer equitable; or
(6) any other reason that justifies relief.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b). Relief under Rule 60(b) “‘is an extraordinary remedy which
may be invoked only upon a showing of exceptional circumstances.’” Crapp v.
City of Miami Beach, 242 F.3d 1017, 1020 (11th Cir. 2001) (quoting Griffin v.
Swim-Tech Corp., 722 F.2d 677, 680 (11th Cir. 1984)). A motion filed pursuant to
this section “must demonstrate ‘that the circumstances are sufficiently
extraordinary to warrant relief. Even then, whether to grant the requested relief is
. . . a matter for the district court’s sound discretion.” Johnson v. American Sec.
Ins. Co., 392 Fed.App’x 838, 841 (11th Cir. 2010).
Plaintiff here has not produced evidence of any exceptional circumstances
that warrant the relief requested. Plaintiff argues that the Court should not have
considered the dispositive motions filed by Defendants Taylor and Weston
because those individuals were in default, and the Magistrate erred by failing to
enter a default judgment in Plaintiff’s favor.
“When a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has
failed to plead or otherwise defend, and that failure is shown by affidavit or
otherwise, the clerk must enter the party’s default.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). On
October 9, 2013, Plaintiff signed and submitted for filing Declarations for Entry of
Default against Taylor and Weston. (Docs. 28, 29). A review of the docket in this
case shows that at the time Plaintiff requested that the Clerk enter the default of
these two individuals, they had not yet been served with a copy of Plaintiff’s
Complaint. Weston was not served until October 21, 2013. (Doc. 34). He filed a
timely Answer on November 4, 2013. (Doc. 35). The record reflects that the
United States Marshall attempted to serve Taylor on October 21st as well but
learned that Taylor no longer worked at Valdosta State Prison. (Doc. 33). It is
unclear when precisely Taylor was served. He did file a pre-Answer Motion to
Dismiss on October 30, 2013 (Doc. 31), leading the Court to presume that Taylor
was served sometime between October 21st and October 30th. Plaintiff later filed
a Memorandum in Support of his application for entry of default. (Doc. 40).
Plaintiff’s pursuit of a default judgment was premature and improperly filed.
Since Plaintiff never raised the subject of default in the form of a motion, his
concerns were never addressed either by recommendation or by order. Even if
Plaintiff had followed procedural protocol, his motions would have been properly
denied since the record clearly indicates that Defendants Weston and Taylor
were never in default. The Court accordingly denies Plaintiff’s motion for relief
from the judgment.
Motion for Relief from Judgment and Order (Doc. 111)
In his final motion (Doc. 111), Plaintiff claims that he was denied equal
protection of the law when the Court vacated its original Order adopting the
recommendation to deny Defendant Weston’s motion for summary judgment
(Doc. 84) and entered a corrected Order (Doc. 84) that same date. Plaintiff
alleges that the Court deliberately failed to provide notice of the amended order,
“[a]nd such inexcusable neglect pulled the wool over the Plaintiff [sic] eyes of
which purportedly prevented the Plaintiff from discovering the District Court
vacated the initial Judgment and Order.” (Doc. 111, p. 3). He further avers that
the new order “constituted a significant change in facts and law warranting
revision of the decree.” (Id.).
Plaintiff’s arguments are without merit. Review of the two orders in
question (Docs. 84, 86), reveals that the orders are identical with the exception of
the spelling of Defendant Weston’s name. The Court revised its order specifically
to correct this scrivener’s error as is explained in the docket notation. Therefore,
the Court denies Plaintiff’s motion for relief from the judgment on this basis.
In the course of this motion, Plaintiff again raises issues brought before the
Court in his first two motions for reconsideration, which the Court has already
denied herein. He also appears to request reconsideration of the Court’s
November 10, 2014, Order adopting the Magistrate’s October 14, 2014
recommendation (Doc. 97), which construed a supplemental response filed by
Plaintiff on June 16, 2014 (Doc. 92) as a Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment
pursuant to Rule 59(e) and recommended denying the same for failure to do
anything more than repeat arguments against Defendants’ dispositive motions.
Local Rule 7.6 provides that “[p]arties and attorneys for the parties shall not file
motions to reconsider the court’s denial or grant of a prior motion for
reconsideration.” Thus, to the extent that Plaintiff’s motion seeks reconsideration
of a previous denial of a motion for reconsideration, Plaintiff’s motion is denied.
SO ORDERED, this 6th day of January, 2015.
s/ Hugh Lawson_______________
HUGH LAWSON, SENIOR JUDGE
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