DURAN v. WARNER et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION FILED. Signed by Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 7/10/17. (js)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
No. 07-5994 (JBS/AMD)
OFFICER WILLIAM WARNER, et al.,
SIMANDLE, District Judge:
This matter comes before the Court on pro se Plaintiff
Miguel Duran’s second motion to reopen this case pursuant to
Rule 60(b), Fed. R. Civ. P., filed on March 29, 2017. [Docket
Item 284.] Plaintiff alleges, as he did in his first motion,
that this case should be reopened and he should be relieved from
judgment because he “made a force [sic], Coerced, Fraudulent
Agreement and Settlement” with defendants. (Pl. Br. at 4.) All
defendants oppose. [Docket Items 285 & 288.] For the reasons set
forth below, the motion to reopen will be denied.
The factual background of this case has not changed
since the August 30, 2016 Memorandum Opinion and Order denying
Plaintiff’s first motion to reopen. See Duran v. Warner, Civil
No. 07-5995, 2016 WL 4544339 (D.N.J. Aug. 30, 2016). [Docket
Items 281 & 282.] The Court notes that the parties reached a
settlement agreement in this case over two years ago, which was
finally stipulated to on September 26, 2014 after a prolonged
disagreement over the possible operation of a Medicaid/Medicaid
lien on Plaintiff’s award. [Docket Item 275.] By the terms of
the parties’ agreement, Plaintiff received payment in the amount
of $30,000 in exchange for releasing all defendants from all
claims pertaining to alleged incidents occurring on June 8,
2007, June 23, 2007, and between August 1, 2007 up to and
including September 30, 2007. (See Ex. A to Def. Br. in Opp.
[Docket Item 279-1].) This Court ordered the action dismissed
with prejudice on September 30, 2014. [Docket Item 276.]
Plaintiff then filed a motion on December 22, 2015 to reopen his
case, set aside the judgment pursuant to Rule 60(b)(6), and
transfer his case to a new court [Docket Item 278]. The Court
entered an Order to reopen the case on August 29, 2016 [Docket
Item 280], 1 and Plaintiff’s motion to set aside the settlement
was denied on August 30, 2016. [Docket Items 281 & 282.]
Mr. Duran’s statements that the Court “had agreed that the
settlement was not permissible; and that the Court was in the
process of waving the settlement agreement” are incorrect. (Pl.
Br. at 5; see also Pl. Reply Br. at 3, 4.) It appears that
Plaintiff believes he received an order from this Court setting
aside the settlement, before receiving a copy of the August 30,
2016 Opinion [Docket Item 281] in the mail. (See Pl. Reply Br.
at 12 (“What is very questionable is that This ordered by Hon
Jerome Simandle now alleges that the Plaintiff didn’t file the
motion on timely fashion within one year, when the Motion
previously received by Michele L Baxter who decease, was found
dead in the mailing address, who witness the order and gave
Plaintiff the message where the previously order by Hon Jerome
Simandle stated that the settlement was not permissible, due to
This motion followed on March 29, 2017. [Docket Item
284.] The Court will decide this motion without holding oral
argument pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 78.
Rule 60(b), Fed. R. Civ. P., provides that:
On motion and just terms, the court may relieve a party
or its legal representative from a final judgment, order,
or proceeding for the following reasons:
(1) Mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable
(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 (whether previously called intrinsic or
extrinsic), misrepresentation, or misconduct by
an opposing party;
(4) The judgment is void;
(5) The judgment has been satisfied, released or
discharged . . . or
(6) Any other reason that justifies relief.
Any motion made under Rule 60(b) “shall be made within a
reasonable time,” and motions under subsections (1)-(3) must be
made within one year from the entry of judgment. Fed. R. Civ. P.
As with Plaintiff’s first motion to reopen, this
motion is untimely and fails to set forth “extraordinary
circumstances” which would permit this Court to reexamine the
judgment three years after the case was closed. Plaintiff
alleges that he is entitled to relief from the final judgment
Settlement agreement not being settle properly.”) [sic].) Mr.
Duran is totally misinterpreting this Court’s Order of August
29, 2106, which simply reopened the docket so that his motion
could be considered. [Docket Item 280].
entered by stipulation in this case on September 30, 2014
[Docket Item 276] because opposing counsel committed fraud,
coerced, deceived, and threatened him to force him to settle his
claims. (See, e.g., Pl. Br. at 9.) These allegations fall within
the definition of subsection (3), “fraud . .
misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party.” Because
Plaintiff’s motion was made more than a year after the final
disposition of his case, Plaintiff’s motion is time-barred by
However, even if the “catch-all” provision of Rule
60(b)(6) were applicable to Plaintiff’s claims, relieving him of
the one-year limitations period of Rule 60(b)(3), Plaintiff has
not demonstrated that he is entitled to relief under that
section. Relief is available under Rule 60(b)(6) “only in
extraordinary circumstances where, without such relief, an
extreme and unexpected hardship would occur.” Cox v. Horn, 757
F.3d 113, 120 (3d Cir. 2014) (citing Sawka v. Healtheast, Inc.,
989 F.2d 138, 140 (3d Cir. 1993)). “But extraordinary
circumstances rarely exist when a party seeks relief from a
judgment that resulted from the party’s deliberate choices.”
Budget Blinds, Inc. v. White, 536 F.3d 244, 255 (3d Cir. 2008).
It is clear to the Court that it was Plaintiff’s
“deliberate choice” to settle his case.
His present motion rehashes his claims about pretrial
discovery disputes and the alleged civil rights violations that
were the subject of this case (and adjudicated over the course
of more than six years) prior to his negotiation and agreement
to the settlement compromise that he now seeks to set aside. His
claim that he was coerced into signing the settlement agreement
is belied by the number of submissions filed two years ago when
he sought this Court’s assistance in enforcing a settlement
agreement between the parties. [See Docket Items 259, 260, 264,
265, 268, 270, 271, 272 & 273.] Plaintiff, far from being
coerced, was seeking to expedite the consummation of the
settlement. Even if Plaintiff’s motion had been filed within a
reasonable time, which it was not, it presents no extraordinary
circumstances warranting relief under Rule 60(b)(6) and must be
To the extent that this motion should be viewed as one
for reconsideration of the Court’s August 30, 2016 Opinion and
Order under Local Civil Rule 7.1(i), the motion still will be
denied. In order to prevail on a motion for reconsideration, the
party seeking reconsideration must, as relevant here,
demonstrate “‘the need to correct a clear error of law or fact
or to prevent manifest injustice.’”
Andreyko v. Sunrise Sr.
Living, Inc., 993 F. Supp. 2d 475, 478 (D.N.J. 2014) (citations
omitted); Lazaridis v. Wehmer, 591 F.3d 666, 669 (citation
omitted) (3d Cir. 2010) (same).
More specifically, the moving
party must set forth the “dispositive factual matters or
controlling decisions of law” it believes the Court overlooked
when rendering its initial decision.
Mitchell v. Twp. of
Willingboro Mun. Gov’t, 913 F. Supp. 2d 62, 78 (D.N.J. 2012)
(internal citation omitted).
In that way, a party seeking reconsideration must meet
a high burden.
See United States v. Jones, 158 F.R.D. 309, 314
(D.N.J. 1994); Maldonado v. Lucca, 636 F. Supp. 621, 629 (D.N.J.
Even more critically, though, reconsideration does not
provide “an opportunity for a second bite at the apple,” Tishcio
v. Bontex, Inc., 16 F. Supp. 2d 511, 532 (D.N.J. 1998), nor a
vehicle “to relitigate old matters.”
NL Indus., Inc. v.
Commercial Union Ins. Co., 935 F. Supp. 513, 516 (D.N.J. 1996).
In other words, the essence of a motion for reconsideration is
an opportunity for a party to present to the Court a matter or
controlling decision of law that the Court “overlooked” in the
prior decision: that is, a matter that was presented to the
Court but not considered in the initial motion practice, which
might reasonably have resulted in a different conclusion. SPIRG
v. Monsanto Co., 727 F. Supp. 876, 878 (D.N.J. 1989), aff’d, 891
F.2d 283 (3d Cir. 1989).
Motions for reconsideration must be filed “within 14
days after the entry of the order or judgment on the original
motion by the Judge or Magistrate Judge.” L. Civ. R. 7.1(i). An
untimely filed motion for reconsideration “may be denied for
that reason alone.” Morris v. Siemens Components, Inc., 938 F.
Supp. 277, 278 (D.N.J. 1996). The Court will deny Plaintiff’s
motion for reconsideration as untimely.
Even if Plaintiff’s motion had been submitted within
fourteen days, he has not met the high standard required for
relief on a motion for reconsideration. Plaintiff argues in his
reply brief that “The Court error, mistakenly discretionary
denies the order to reopen in Good Faith” [sic]. (Pl. Reply Br.
at 12.) The Court understands Plaintiff to take the position
that this Court erred by denying his first motion to reopen, but
he has merely reargued the same points he did a year ago without
identifying which matters were presented but overlooked and
would result in a different outcome. “A party seeking
reconsideration must show more than a disagreement with the
Court’s decision, and ‘recapitulation of the cases and arguments
considered by the court before rendering its original decision
fails to carry the moving party’s burden.’” P. Schoenfeld Asset
Mgmt., LLC v. Cendant Corp., 161 F. Supp. 2d 349, 353 (D.N.J.
2001)(quoting G-69 v. Degnan, 748 F. Supp. 274, 275 (D.N.J.
1990)). “A motion for reconsideration is improper when it is
used solely to ask the court to rethink what it has already
thought through – rightly or wrongly.” Arista Records, Inc. v.
Flea World, Inc., 356 F. Supp. 2d 411, 415 (D.N.J. 2005).
Accordingly, the Court will not reconsider its August 30, 2016
Opinion and Order.
An accompanying order will be entered.
July 10, 2017
/s Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
U.S. District Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?