Ball v. D'addio et al
MEMORANDUM ORDER - We will DENY these objections which we construe as motions to reconsider. Ball is directed to continue to comply with the filing deadlines previously set by this Court and IT IS ORDERED that any requests for continuance or stay mus t be made individually by Ball in each of her cases along with factual averments specific to each particular case identifying the deadline she wishes to extend or stay, and explaining why a stay or continuance is necessary.Signed by Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson on 07/10/12. (pjr)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
Ball v. SCI Muncy, No.1:08-CV-700 (M.D.Pa.)
Ball v. SCI-Muncy, No. 1:08-CV-701 (M.D.Pa.)
Ball v. Hill, No.1:09-CV-773 (M.D.Pa.)
Ball v. Beard, No. 1:09-CV-845 (M.D.Pa.)
Ball v. Lamas, No. 1:09-CV-846, (M.D. Pa.)
Ball v. Oden , No 1:09-CV-847 (M.D.Pa.)
Ball v. Bower, No. 1:10-CV-2561 (M.D.Pa.)
Ball v. Sisley, No. 1:11-CV-877 (M.D.Pa.)
Ball v. Struther, No. 1:11-CV-1265 (M.D.Pa.) (Chief Judge Kane)
Ball v. Hummel, No. 1:11-CV-1422 (M.D.Pa.)
Ball v. Beckley, No. 1:11-CV-1829 (M.D.Pa.)
Ball v. Sipe, No. 1:11-CV-1830 (M.D.Pa.)
(M. J. Carlson)
Ball v. Craver, No. 1:11-CV-1831 (M.D.Pa.)
Ball v. Powley, No. 1:11-CV-1832 (M..D.Pa.)
Ball v. Cooper, No. 1:11-CV-1833 (M.D.Pa.)
Ball v. Famiglio, No. 1:11-CV-1834 (M.D.Pa.)
Ball v. Eckroth, No. 1:11-CV-2238 (M.D.Pa.)
Ball v. Campbell, No. 1:11-CV-2239 (M.D.Pa.)
Ball v Barr, No. 1:11-CV-2240 (M.D.Pa.)
Ball v Curham, No. 1:12-CV-10 (M.D.Pa.)
Ball v Giroux, No. 1:12-CV-11 (M.D.Pa.)
Ball v Giroux, No. 1:12-CV-12 (M.D.Pa.)
Ball v. Sipe, 1:12-CV-537 (M.D.Pa.)
Ball v Giroux, No. 1:12-CV-812 (M.D.Pa.)
Ball v Giroux, No. 1:12-CV-813 (M.D.Pa.)
Ball v Hummel, No. 1:12-CV-814 (M.D.Pa.)
Ball v D’Addio, No. 1:12-CV-815 (M.D.Pa.)
Dawn Ball is an inmate housed in the Restricted Housing Unit at the State
Correctional Institution (SCI) Muncy. Furthermore, Ball is an inmate who has
reported to the Court on numerous occasions that she engages in multiple episodes of
destructive, self-defeating and senseless behavior. For example, recurring themes in
Ball’s lawsuits include Ball’s penchant for smearing feces on herself and her cell, her
destruction of her own clothing, and her use of her clothing to plug her toilet and flood
her cell with water and human waste. Ball is also a prodigious federal court litigant,
bringing numerous lawsuits based upon her perception of the events that take place
around her in prison. Indeed, at present Ball has approximately twenty-five lawsuits
lodged before this Court.1 Yet, Ball is a prodigiously unsuccessful litigant, who has
had many prior lawsuits and appeals dismissed either for failure to exhaust her
administrative remedies, or as frivolous on the grounds that the lawsuit or appeal
failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.
Having launched this body of litigation, Ball has twice sought to instruct the
Court regarding when, where, and how all of these cases should be permitted to
See, e.g., Ball v. SCI Muncy, No.1:08-CV-700 (M.D.Pa.); Ball v. SCIMuncy, No. 1:08-CV-701 (M.D.Pa.); Ball v. Hill, No.1:09-CV-773 (M.D.Pa.);
Ball v. Beard, No. 1:09-CV-845 (M.D.Pa.); Ball v. Lamas, No. 1:09-CV-846,
(M.D. Pa.); Ball v. Oden, No 1:09-CV-847 (M.D.Pa.); Ball v. Bower, No. 1:10CV-2561 (M.D.Pa.); Ball v. Sisley, No. 1:11-CV-877 (M.D.Pa.); Ball v. Struther,
No. 1:11-CV-1265 (M.D.Pa.); Ball v. Hummel, No. 1:11-CV-1422 (M.D.Pa.); Ball
v. Beckley, No. 1:11-CV-1829 (M.D.Pa.); Ball v. Sipe, No. 1:11-CV-1830
(M.D.Pa.); Ball v. Craver, No. 1:11-CV-1831 (M.D.Pa.); Ball v. Powley, No. 1:11CV-1832 (M..D.Pa.); Ball v. Cooper, No. 1:11-CV-1833 (M.D.Pa.); Ball v.
Famiglio, No. 1:11-CV-1834 (M.D.Pa.); Ball v. Eckroth, No. 1:11-CV-2238
(M.D.Pa.); Ball v. Campbell, No. 1:11-CV-2239 (M.D.Pa.); Ball v Barr, No. 1:11CV-2240 (M.D.Pa.); Ball v Giroux, No. 1:12-CV-10 (M.D.Pa.); Ball v Giroux,
No. 1:12-CV-11 (M.D.Pa.); Ball v Curham, No. 1:12-CV-12 (M.D.Pa.); Ball v.
Sipe, 1:12-CV-537 (M.D.Pa.); Ball v. Giroux, No. 1:12-CV-812 (M.D.Pa.); Ball v.
Giroux, No. 1:12-CV-813 (M.D.Pa.); Ball v. Hummel, No. 1:12-CV-814
(M.D.Pa.); Ball v. D’Addio, No. 1:12-CV-815 (M.D.Pa.) .
proceed, filing multiple motions which sought an open-ended stay of all of her
litigation, in part, because Ball complains that prison officials will not allow her to
keep as many as sixteen boxes of litigation files in her cell at the Restricted Housing
Unit as the State Correctional Institution Muncy, a circumstance which she says
impairs her ability to litigate these claims. We have repeatedly denied these requests,
instructing Ball instead to file individual motions in each of her cases along with
factual averments specific to each particular case identifying the deadline she wishes
to extend or stay, and explaining why a stay or continuance is necessary. Dissatisfied
with these rulings, Ball has now filed a battery of pleadings styled as “objections” to
this instruction to file individually tailored continuance motions.
At the outset, to the extent that Ball seeks to treat this stay ruling as a
dispositive matter which she may challenge simply through the filing of an objection,
she errs. Quite the contrary, it is well-settled that: “Motions to stay, . . . , are nondispositive. See Delta Frangible Ammunition, LLC v. Sinterfire, Inc., 2008 WL
4540394, at *1 n. 1 (W.D.Pa. Oct.7, 2008); Pass & Seymour, Inc. v. Hubbell Inc., 532
F.Supp.2d 418, 426 n. 7 (N.D.N.Y.2007). Therefore, my ruling with respect to each
side's motion to stay is an order of the Court.” Hutchins v. Bayer Corp., CIV.A. 08640-JJF-LP, 2009 WL 192468 (D. Del. Jan. 23, 2009).
Accordingly, we will treat Ball’s latest filings in the first instance as motions
to reconsider our prior stay rulings. The legal standards that govern motions to
reconsider are both clear, and clearly compelling. “The purpose of a motion for
reconsideration is to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly
discovered evidence." Harsco Corp. v. Zlotnicki, 779 F.2d 906, 909 (3d Cir. 1985).
Typically such a motion should only be granted in three, narrowly defined
circumstances, where there is either: "(1) [an] intervening change in controlling law,
(2) availability of new evidence not previously available, or (3) need to correct a clear
error of law or prevent manifest injustice". Dodge v. Susquehanna Univ., 796 F.Supp.
829, 830 (M.D. Pa. 1992 ). As the United States Court of Appeals for the Third
Circuit has aptly observed:
“The purpose of a motion for reconsideration ... is to correct manifest
errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence.” Max's
Seafood Café, 176 F.3d at 677 (quoting Harsco Corp. v. Zlotnicki, 779
F.2d 906, 909 (3d Cir.1985)). “Accordingly, a judgment may be altered
or amended if the party seeking reconsideration shows at least one of the
following grounds: (1) an intervening change in the controlling law; (2)
the availability of new evidence that was not available when the court
granted the motion for summary judgment; or (3) the need to correct a
clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice.” Id. (citation
Howard Hess Dental Laboratories Inc. v. Dentsply Intern., Inc., 602 F.3d
237, 251 (3d Cir. 2010).
Thus, it is well-settled that a mere disagreement with the court does not translate
into the type of clear error of law which justifies reconsideration of a ruling. Dodge,
796 F.Supp. at 830. Furthermore, "[b]ecause federal courts have a strong interest in
the finality of judgments, motions for reconsideration should be granted sparingly."
Continental Casualty Co. v. Diversified Indus., Inc., 884 F.Supp. 937, 943 (E.D. Pa.
1995). Moreover, it is evident that a motion for reconsideration is not a tool to relitigate and reargue issues which have already been considered and disposed of by the
court. Dodge, 796 F.Supp. at 830. Rather, such a motion is appropriate only where
the court has misunderstood a party or where there has been a significant change in
law or facts since the court originally ruled on that issue. See Above the Belt, Inc. v.
Mel Bohannon Roofing, Inc., 99 F.R.D. 99, 101 (E.D. Va. 1983).
Given the exacting standards which apply to motions to reconsider, we must
deny Ball’s request to reconsider our prior decisions regarding her previous global
stay requests. It is well-settled that rulings on requests for extension of time or stays
rest in the sound discretion of the court. Miller v. Ashcroft, 76 F. App’x 457, 461 (3d
Cir. 2003). That discretion is guided, however, by certain basic principles. Thus,
under this abuse of discretion standard, a trial court's control of its docket will not be
disturbed “‘except upon the clearest showing that the procedures have resulted in
actual and substantial prejudice to the complaining litigant’” Id. (citations omitted).
Moreover, any party challenging a ruling denying a continuance or stay request, “ha[s]
a heavy burden to bear, . . ., as matters of docket control and conduct of [litigation] are
committed to the sound discretion of the district court.” In re Fine Paper Antitrust
Litigation 685 F.2d 810, 817 (3d Cir. 1982)(citations omitted). Furthermore, when
exercising this discretion, we acknowledge a basic truth: we must remain mindful of
the fact that “the Federal Rules are meant to be applied in such a way as to promote
justice. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 1. Often that will mean that courts should strive to resolve
cases on their merits whenever possible. However, justice also requires that the merits
of a particular dispute be placed before the court in a timely fashion . . . .” McCurdy
v. American Bd. of Plastic Surgery, 157 F.3d 191, 197 (3d Cir. 1998)(affirming denial
of request for extension of time).
Here, the application of these basic principles continues to compel us to deny
Ball’s requests, along with Ball’s request that were retroactively revoke prior orders,
as well as Ball’s efforts to dictate which judges will hear and decide her motions. In
denying these motions we observe, yet again, for Ball that we are duty-bound to
pursue her allegations and claims to ensure that she receives justice. Staying these
cases in the face of what Ball has claimed would be a fundamental dereliction of our
duty to Ball, to the truth, and to justice.
We also note that, if Ball’s allegations are not fully supported, then it would be
a grave injustice to the dozens of Defendants sued by Ball to allow these allegations
and claims to remain pending indefinitely, when they can, should and must be
resolved. In short, if Ball’s allegations are not accurate, then these motions to stay
would perpetuate an injustice and present a situation where delays sought by one party
unfairly prejudice the rights and interests of the opposing parties. In such instances,
the proper exercise of discretion calls for the denial of any motion for a stay of
Further, Ball must consider that her stay motions are plainly over broad. In their
current form these motions would prevent the Court from acting upon matters which
are entirely ripe, and ready for resolution. These motions would also prevent the
Court from acting in cases where Ball has failed to comply with pleadings deadlines,
and is now subject to sanctions, including dismissal of her claims. In short, adopting
a global, all-encompassing, open-ended stay of all of these proceedings would provide
the Plaintiff with a license to avoid the consequences of her own litigation choices,
and defaults. Such a course would be particularly inappropriate given Ball’s litigation
history since Ball has already been placed on notice that she may soon forfeit her right
to proceed in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. §1915(g), due to her past penchant for
filing frivolous and meritless claims.
Because we continue to believe that we owe it to Ball, and to all of the many
Defendants she has sued, to promptly address the merits of her claims, we will DENY
these “objections” which we construe as motions to reconsider. Ball is directed to
continue to comply with the filing deadlines previously set by this Court and IT IS
ORDERED that any requests for continuance or stay must be made individually by
Ball in each of her cases along with factual averments specific to each particular case
identifying the deadline she wishes to extend or stay, and explaining why a stay or
continuance is necessary.
However, as a matter of basic fairness to Ball, and in order to provide Ball with
a full and fair opportunity to be heard on these matters which she deems important, we
note for Ball that under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) parties may seek review of this nondispositive order by filing a motion to reconsider with the district court since: “A
judge of the [district] court may reconsider any . . . matter [decided under this
subparagraph] where it has been shown that the magistrate judge's order is clearly
erroneous or contrary to law.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A). Such challenges must,
however, be filed within 14 days of the filing and service of this order, see F.R.Civ.
P., Rule 72(a), and Ball must show that this ruling is “clearly erroneous or contrary to
law,” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A), in order to prevail in such a challenge.
So ordered this 10th day of July 2012.
S/Martin C. Carlson
Martin C. Carlson
United States Magistrate Judge
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