Brent v. Wayne County Department of Human Services et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION and ORDER Granting State Defendants' 268 Motion for Relief and Denying as Moot Plaintiff's 267 Second Motion to Alter Judgment - Signed by District Judge Judith E. Levy. (FMos)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
Nathaniel Brent and Robert Brent,
Case No. 11-cv-10724
Judith E. Levy
United States District Judge
Wayne County DHS et al.,
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING STATE DEFENDANTS’
MOTION FOR RELIEF  AND DENYING AS MOOT
PLAINTIFFS’ SECOND MOTION TO ALTER JUDGMENT 
Before the Court are plaintiffs’ second motions to alter the
judgment (Dkt. 267), and the State Defendants’ motion for relief from
the Court’s prior orders denying them absolute immunity under state
law without prejudice to raising the issue at the close of discovery.
For the reasons set forth below, the State Defendants’ motion for
relief is granted, and plaintiffs’ motion is denied as moot.
This case has a remarkably complicated procedural history. On
March 17, 2017, the Court granted in part and denied in part plaintiffs’
motion for reconsideration. The Court granted the motion in part by
denying the State Defendants absolute immunity without prejudice as
to plaintiffs’ intentional infliction of emotional distress and invasion of
privacy claims. The Court denied the motion in part by not revisiting
the order granting the City of Detroit Defendants qualified and
statutory immunity against plaintiffs’ claims.
(Dkt. 261 at 2.)
Court also granted the State Defendants’ motion for reconsideration
and held that Shevonne Trice was entitled to statutory immunity
against plaintiff Robert Brent’s failure-to-report medical neglect claim.
(Id. at 6–7.)
Plaintiffs then filed a motion to amend or alter the opinion, asking
the Court to declare the opinion and order final for purposes of appeal.
(Dkt. 262.) The Court granted the motion on the following issues: (1)
plaintiffs may appeal the grant of qualified and statutory immunity to
the City Defendants; (2) plaintiffs may appeal the grant of statutory
immunity to State Defendant Shevonne Trice against Robert Brent’s
failure-to-report medical neglect claim. (Dkt. 264.) Because plaintiff
prevailed on the issue of whether to grant the State Defendants
absolute immunity under state law—the Court denied immunity
without prejudice—and because the issue had previously been appealed
to the Sixth Circuit, the Court denied leave to appeal this issue. (Id. at
Plaintiffs have now filed a second motion to alter the judgment,
arguing the Court erroneously applied the standard set forth in 28
U.S.C. § 1292, and created an improper “piecemeal” appeal. (Dkt. 267.)
The State Defendants have also filed a motion for relief from the
original order denying them absolute immunity (Dkt. 262), and order
(Dkt. 264) denying the parties leave to appeal the issue. (Dkt. 268.)
The State Defendants have filed a motion for relief, which the
Court will treat as a motion for reconsideration.
A motion for
reconsideration should be granted “if the movant demonstrates a
palpable defect by which the court and the parties have been misled and
that a different disposition of the case must result from a correction
thereof.” In re Greektown Holdings, LLC, 728 F.3d 567, 573–74 (6th
“A palpable defect is one that is ‘obvious, clear,
unmistakable, manifest, or plain.’” Majchrzak v. Cty. of Wayne, 838 F.
Supp. 2d 586, 596 (E.D. Mich. 2011).
The State Defendants argue the Court erred in concluding its
predecessor Court had denied them absolute immunity under Martin v.
Children’s Aid Society, 215 Mich. App. 88 (1996), and that the issue had
been appealed. This Court previously denied them immunity without
prejudice based on the November 15, 2012 order (Dkt. 163) issued by
The Honorable Julian Abele Cook, Jr.
But the State Defendants
accurately conclude that the Court’s predecessor reversed its 2012
decision in an August 31, 2014 order (Dkt. 199), which this Court and
Accordingly, because this Court independently
reviewed the Martin doctrine and originally concluded the State
Defendants were entitled to absolute immunity (Dkt. 261), and because
this Court’s predecessor came to this same conclusion in its 2014 order,
the State Defendants’ motion for reconsideration on this issue is
Plaintiffs argue the Court should not grant the State Defendants’
motion for three reasons: (1) lack of jurisdiction; (2) the motion is
untimely; and (3) the State Defendants’ argument on immunity is
misleading. (Dkt. 269.) First, although Fed. R. Civ. P. 62.1 states that
courts generally lose jurisdiction to grant motions for relief when the
order is on appeal, a district court may grant the motion if “the motion
raises a substantial issue.” Here, the motion for reconsideration raises
a substantial issue because, as set forth above, the Court erred in
applying the law of the case and in denying the State Defendants
absolute immunity. Second, a motion for reconsideration must be filed
within fourteen days of the order at issue. E.D. Mich. L.R. 7.1. But the
State Defendants seek relief from two orders, the last of which (Dkt.
264), was issued April 11, 2017. Thus, the 14-day period ended on April
25, 2017, four days after the State Defendants filed the motion, and the
motion is therefore timely.
Third, the State Defendants are not
misleading the Court by directing its attention to the order in which
Judge Cook granted them absolute immunity.
Plaintiffs’ objections are therefore unavailing.
(See Dkt. 199.)
Because the State Defendants are entitled to absolute immunity
against plaintiffs’ intentional infliction of emotional distress and
invasion of privacy claims, no claims remain in this case. This opinion
and order closes the case, and a separate final judgment will be issued.
Accordingly, plaintiffs’ motion to alter the judgment is denied as moot.
For the reasons set forth above, the State Defendants’ motion for
relief is GRANTED. (Dkt. 268.) Plaintiffs’ second motion to alter the
judgment (Dkt. 267) is DENIED AS MOOT.
This opinion and order resolves all claims and closes the case. A
separate final judgment will be entered on today’s date.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated: May 1, 2017
Ann Arbor, Michigan
s/Judith E. Levy
JUDITH E. LEVY
United States District Judge
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
The undersigned certifies that the foregoing document was served
upon counsel of record and any unrepresented parties via the Court’s
ECF System to their respective email or First Class U.S. mail addresses
disclosed on the Notice of Electronic Filing on May 1, 2017.
s/Felicia M. Moses
FELICIA M. MOSES
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