ADAMS v. LANDRY et al
ORDER denying 51 Motion to Reopen Case By JUDGE JOHN A. WOODCOCK, JR. (ccs)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MAINE
JON R. ADAMS,
SCOTT LANDRY, et al.,
ORDER ON MOTIONS TO REOPEN AND REFILE
On July 17, 2015, Jon R. Adams filed a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 in this Court against Scott Landry, the Warden at the Maine
Correctional Center, and a number of other state governmental officials, contending
among other things that the state prison officials had been indifferent to his personal
safety. Compl. (ECF No. 1). On July 15, 2016, the Magistrate Judge issued a
recommended decision in which he recommended that the Court dismiss the
Complaint without prejudice based on Mr. Adams’ failure to prosecute the claim.
Recommended Decision on Mot. to Dismiss (ECF No. 44). Mr. Adams failed to object
to the recommended decision and on August 12, 2016, the Court affirmed the
recommended decision. Order Affirming the Recommended Decision of the Magistrate
Judge (ECF No. 48). On January 12, 2017, the Order was reduced to judgment and
Mr. Adams’ Complaint was dismissed without prejudice. J. (ECF No. 49).
On June 29, 2017, Mr. Adams returned to this Court and asked that this case
be reopened and in the alternative, he be allowed to refile the complaint. Mot. to
Refile/Reopen Case (ECF No. 51).
On July 18, 2017, the Defendants filed an
opposition to Mr. Adams’ motion. Opp’n to Mot. to Refile/Reopen Case (ECF No. 54).
On July 26, 2017, Mr. Adams replied to the Defendants’ opposition. Pl.’s Resp. to
Defs.[’] Opp’n (ECF No. 55).
The bottom line is that Mr. Adams does not have the right to reopen this case,
but he does have the right to refile it. The bases upon which a litigant subject to a
final judgment, as in this case, may reopen a case are strictly limited, and Mr. Adams
has not placed himself within any of the narrow exceptions to the general rule, which
favors the finality of judgments. See FED. R. CIV. P. 60(b)(1-6). The Court therefore
denies the motion to reopen.
At the same time, because in its judgment, the Court expressly provided that
the dismissal was without prejudice, Mr. Adams has the right, if he chooses to do so,
to file a new complaint based on the same grounds as the one dismissed. See FED. R.
CIV. P. 41(b); 9 CHARLES ALAN WRIGHT & ARTHUR R. MILLER, FEDERAL PRACTICE AND
PROCEDURE § 2373 (3d ed. 2008) (“Rule 41(b) expressly provides that the district court
may specify that a dismissal is without prejudice. When a district judge exercises his
discretion to so provide, a second suit is not barred”). Mr. Adams does not need to
obtain a court order in order to refile his civil rights claim, and as Mr. Adams has not
yet filed a new complaint, the Court declines to enter an order because it is not only
unnecessary but it is contingent upon a future event that may or may not take place.
The Court, therefore, dismisses the motion to refile as moot.
In fairness to Mr. Adams, he should be forewarned. If he elects to refile this
lawsuit, he must remain actively involved in its prosecution.
In the event the
complaint is dismissed again, it is likely that the next dismissal will be with prejudice,
which will mean that Mr. Adams will be barred from bringing a third suit on the same
grounds against the same parties.
The Court DENIES so much of Jon R. Adams’ Motion to Reopen/Refile (ECF
No. 51) as requests that the Court allow Mr. Adams to reopen his dismissed case, but
the Court DISMISSES as moot so much of Mr. Adams’ Motion to Reopen/Refile (ECF
No. 51) as requests that the Court allow Mr. Adams to refile his case in this Court.
/s/ John A. Woodcock, Jr.
JOHN A. WOODCOCK, JR.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Dated this 7th day of August, 2017
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