Anderson v. NDOC et al

Filing 139

ORDER denying Defendants' ECF No. 60 Motion to Reconsider; granting Defendants' ECF No. 78 Motion for Clarification; denying Plaintiff's 80 Motion to Reconsider. Signed by Judge Robert C. Jones on 2/14/2018. (Copies have been distributed pursuant to the NEF - KR)

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1 2 3 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 4 DISTRICT OF NEVADA 5 6 7 JOSEPH M. ANDERSON, 8 Plaintiff, 9 10 3:16-cv-00056-RCJ-WGC vs. ORDER NEVADA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS et al., 11 Defendants. 12 This is a prisoner civil rights case. Now pending before the Court are two motions for 13 14 15 reconsideration, (ECF Nos. 60, 80), and a motion for clarification of a prior order, (ECF No. 78). I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND 16 Plaintiff sued Defendants in state court under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985, alleging 17 violations of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, the Religious Land Use and 18 Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”), the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth 19 Amendment, retaliation in violation of the First Amendment, and a civil rights conspiracy. The 20 Court permitted certain claims to proceed and gave leave to amend certain other claims. Upon 21 amendment, the Court permitted RLUIPA, First Amendment retaliation, Equal Protection 22 Clause, and civil rights conspiracy claims to proceed but dismissed a due process claim with 23 prejudice. 24 /// 1 of 5 On March 31, 2017, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. The motion 1 2 argued, first, that Plaintiff had failed to exhaust administrative remedies as to the claims against 3 all Defendants other than Ray East, Jonathan Ball, and Jethro Parks; second, that the statute of 4 limitations had run on the claims against East and Ball; and third, that the First Amendment 5 retaliation claim against Parks failed on the merits. Subsequently, Defendants moved for a stay 6 of discovery pending the Court’s ruling on their summary judgment motion. (Mot. Stay, ECF 7 No. 41.) Following a motion hearing, Magistrate Judge William G. Cobb granted the stay. 8 According to the hearing minutes, Judge Cobb initially observed that the summary 9 judgment motion primarily focused on the exhaustion of administrative remedies, while 10 discovery propounded by Plaintiff “focus[ed] on the merits of the case rather than the specific 11 subject of exhaustion.” (Hr’g Mins. 2, ECF No. 46.) Judge Cobb then conveyed that he would 12 nonetheless “allow Plaintiff to undertake discovery so long as the discovery is targeted to the 13 topic of exhaustion and defendant Parks. Discovery as to the general merits of the case will not 14 be allowed.” (Id.) Next, Judge Cobb reviewed several of Plaintiff’s discovery requests and, 15 finding some of them to be appropriate, ordered Defendants to provide supplemental responses 16 to certain specified requests. Judge Cobb concluded, however, that none of Plaintiff’s proposed 17 discovery “address[ed] the matter of Defendants’ motion for summary [judgment] regarding 18 exhaustion or statute of limitations.” (Id.) For that reason, Judge Cobb granted the stay of 19 discovery, with the exception that Defendants must provide the aforementioned supplemental 20 responses no later than June 23, 2017. (Id.) On June 29 and July 3, Plaintiff filed objections to 21 Judge Cobb’s order staying discovery under FED. R. CIV. P. 72(a). (Objs., ECF Nos. 47, 48.) On 22 July 27, the Court overruled Plaintiff’s objections and affirmed Judge Cobb’s order granting the 23 stay. (Order, ECF No. 59.) 24 /// 2 of 5 On August 17, 2017, Judge Cobb entered his report and recommendation (R. & R.) that 1 2 summary judgment be granted for Defendants, except that the motion should be denied as to the 3 retaliation claim against Defendant Parks. (ECF No. 66.) Plaintiff and Defendants both filed 4 objections to the R. & R. (ECF Nos. 69, 70.) Of course, Plaintiff argued that summary judgment 5 should not be granted on any claim, while Defendants argued that summary judgment was 6 additionally appropriate on the retaliation claim against Parks. On September 20, the Court 7 accepted and adopted the R. & R. in full, after noting that it had conducted a de novo review and 8 had considered all relevant matters of record. (Order, ECF No. 76.) Judgment was then entered 9 for Defendants consistent with the Court’s order. (ECF No. 77.) The only claim now remaining in this case is the First Amendment retaliation claim 10 11 12 13 14 against Defendant Parks. II. ANALYSIS a. Defendants’ Motion to Reconsider (ECF No. 60) First, citing FED. R. CIV. P. 60(a), Defendants ask the Court to correct mistakes in its 15 order overruling Plaintiff’s objections to Judge Cobb’s order granting a stay of discovery. 16 Defendants argue that some of the language in the Court’s order mischaracterized Judge Cobb’s 17 ruling and the procedural history leading up to it. Because the Court has ruled on the summary 18 judgment motion and the stay is no longer in effect, this motion is likely moot. However, the 19 Court also notes that the legal effect of its order was merely to overrule Plaintiff’s objections and 20 uphold the magistrate judge’s order. See D. NEV. LOCAL. R. IB 3-1(b) (“The district judge may 21 affirm, reverse, or modify, in whole or in part, the magistrate judge’s order.”) Nothing in the 22 Court’s dicta should be construed to alter Judge Cobb’s underlying order, which was affirmed in 23 full without modification. 24 Accordingly, this motion is denied. 3 of 5 1 2 b. Defendants’ Motion for Clarification (ECF No. 78) Next, Defendants ask the Court to clarify its order accepting and adopting the R. & R. 3 and granting partial summary judgment. Defendants note that the order specifies that the Court 4 “fully considered” Plaintiff’s objections to the R. & R., but does not so specify with respect to 5 Defendants’ objection. (See Order, ECF No. 76.) The Court will grant the motion to offer the 6 following clarification: All relevant matters of record were given full consideration, including, 7 without limitation, Defendants’ partial objection at ECF No. 70. 8 c. Plaintiff’s Motion to Reconsider (ECF No. 80) 9 Lastly, Plaintiff moves under FED. R. CIV. P. 59(e) for relief from the summary judgment 10 against him. Granting a motion to reconsider under Rule 59(e) is an “extraordinary remedy, to be 11 used sparingly in the interests of finality and conservation of judicial resources.” Carroll v. 12 Nakatani, 342 F.3d 934, 945 (9th Cir. 2003) (quoting 12 James Wm. Moore et al., Moore’s 13 Federal Practice § 59.30[4] (3d ed. 2000)). “Reconsideration is appropriate if the district court 14 (1) is presented with newly discovered evidence, (2) committed clear error or the initial decision 15 was manifestly unjust, or (3) if there is an intervening change in controlling law.” Sch. Dist. No. 16 1J, Multnomah Cnty., Or. v. ACandS, Inc., 5 F.3d 1255, 1263 (9th Cir. 1993). “A motion to 17 reconsider is not a second chance for the losing party to make its strongest case or to dress up 18 arguments that previously failed.” United States v. Huff, 782 F.3d 1221, 1224 (10th Cir.), cert. 19 denied, 136 S. Ct. 537 (2015). 20 Plaintiff does not present newly discovered evidence or point to any change in controlling 21 law in his motion. In fact, the arguments raised in favor of reconsideration were thoroughly 22 addressed in Judge Cobb’s R. & R., and fully considered by this Court. Moreover, Plaintiff’s 23 “Addendum to Objection,” which he argues the Court failed to consider, was an improper filing. 24 Construed as a new objection, it was untimely. See D. NEV. LOCAL. R. IB 3-2(a) (“The deadline 4 of 5 1 to file and serve any objections to a magistrate judge’s findings and recommendations is 14 days 2 after service of the findings and recommendations.”). Construed as a reply in support of 3 Plaintiff’s timely objection, it was impermissibly filed without leave of the Court. See id. 4 (“Replies will be allowed only with leave of court.”). 5 6 Therefore, Plaintiff has provided no reason to disturb the Court’s prior order granting summary judgment, and the motion to reconsider must be denied. CONCLUSION 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendants’ Motion to Reconsider (ECF No. 60) is DENIED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendants’ Motion for Clarification (ECF No. 78) is GRANTED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Motion to Reconsider (ECF No. 80) is DENIED. IT IS SO ORDERED. February 14, 2018. 15 16 17 18 _____________________________________ ROBERT C. JONES United States District Judge 19 20 21 22 23 24 5 of 5

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