ARUANNO v. CALDWELL et al
OPINION. Signed by Judge William J. Martini on 10/11/16. (gh, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
Civ. No. 2:14-5652 (WJM)
OFFICER CALDWELL, et al.,
WILLIAM J. MARTINI, U.S.D.J.:
Plaintiff Joseph Aruanno moves pro se for reconsideration of this Court’s denial of
his “Motion to Reinstate/Reopen and/or Motion to Enforce/Compel” (hereinafter “Motion
to Reopen”). This Court denied Plaintiff’s motion, which was liberally construed as
seeking a writ of execution to satisfy a judgment. For the reasons set forth below,
Plaintiff’s motion to reconsider is DENIED.
On April 30, 2015, this Court entered a $5,000.00 default judgment in favor of
Plaintiff and against Defendant, Officer Corey Caldwell, for use of excessive force in
violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On May 15, 2016, Plaintiff filed a motion seeking
satisfaction of the judgment. On July 21, 2016, this Court denied Plaintiff’s motion without
prejudice because it failed to comply with the State of New Jersey’s procedural
requirements for requesting the issuance of a writ of execution. On July 28, 2016, Plaintiff
timely filed the instant motion to reconsider.
Plaintiff argues that the Court erred in denying his Motion to Reopen because it
failed to recognize that Plaintiff has no way of understanding the Court’s order without
access to counsel or, at a minimum, a law library. In particular, Plaintiff claims that he is
unable to understand the meaning of the procedural requirements cited to in the Court’s
order: N.J.S.A. 2A:17-2 and N.J.R.C. 4:59-1, respectively. Plaintiff, therefore, is unable
to comply with these requirements.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) provides, in pertinent part: “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 neglect; . . . or (6) any other reason that justifies relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b).
“The general purpose of Rule 60 . . . is to strike a proper balance between the
conflicting principles that litigation must be brought to an end and that justice must be
done.” Boughner v. Sec’y of Health, Educ. & Welfare, U.S., 572 F.2d 976, 977 (3rd Cir.
1978). “This Court has also cautioned that relief from a judgment under Rule 60 should
be granted only in exceptional circumstances.” Id.; see also Gillon v. Ting, No. 12-cv7558, 2014 WL 1891371, at *2 (D.N.J. May 9, 2014) (“Rule 60(b) is a provision for
extraordinary relief, which will be granted only upon a showing of exceptional
Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate that reconsideration is warranted under Rule
60(b) because he has failed to show a mistake by the Court or “exceptional circumstances”
necessary for the relief that he requests.
First, Plaintiff has not shown a mistake that warrants reconsideration pursuant to
Rule 60(b)(1). Under a liberal construction of his pleading, Plaintiff apparently claims that
the Court overlooked the conditions of his confinement that restrict him from having access
to legal counsel or a law library when it denied his Motion to Reopen. The Court is familiar
with Plaintiff and the nature of his confinement. On April 23, 2015, Plaintiff appeared
before the Court via video conference at an evidentiary hearing that addressed his claims
against Defendant. See Minutes of Proceeding, ECF No. 44. In addition, Plaintiff has
written letters to and filed numerous motions with this Court since 2009. Indeed, Plaintiff
stated as the basis for his Motion to Reopen: “I submit this in lieu of a more formal
submission since I am pro se, and in light of the severe limitations placed on me by the
Defendants as you know in other litigation such as denying me access to a law library, etc.
. . .” Motion to Reinstate/Reopen at 1, ECF No. 52 (emphasis added). Accordingly, the
Court did not overlook the conditions of Plaintiff’s confinement when it denied his Motion
Second, Plaintiff has not shown “extraordinary circumstances” that require the relief
he seeks under Rule 60(b)(6). To be clear, the Court is sensitive to his claims about
restricted access to a law library and other legal resources to which he is entitled; however,
Plaintiff has proven to be a successful pro se litigant in this case and others.1 This Court
previously denied Plaintiff’s request for pro bono counsel, in part, because he “has
A docket search using Plaintiff’s name produced thirteen cases to which he is or was a named plaintiff.
demonstrated an ability to present his case.” Order Denying Application for Pro Bono
Counsel at 2, ECF No. 29. Subsequently, Plaintiff argued successfully for a default
judgment, which this Court awarded. Default Judgment, ECF No. 45. Thus, despite the
limitations imposed on him, Plaintiff has shown an ability to adequately follow the rules
and procedures of this Court.
Finally, Plaintiff’s main grievance about access to a law library and other legal
resources should be addressed to the New Jersey Department of Corrections, not this Court.
Plaintiff must follow the administrative procedure, namely by filing the requisite form in
the Inmate Remedy System, requesting access to the legal resources he requires to file an
appropriate writ of execution pursuant to New Jersey law.
Plaintiff has failed to present any clear error of law or fact and has not shown that
reconsideration is necessary to prevent manifest injustice. Accordingly, Plaintiff’s motion
for reconsideration is DENIED. An appropriate order follows.
/s/ William J. Martini, U.S.D.J.
WILLIAM J. MARTINI, U.S.D.J.
Date: October 11, 2016
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