Ndaula v. Clinton County Correctional Facility et al
MEMORANDUM re pltf's MOTION to Amend/Correct 28 (Order to follow as separate docket entry) Signed by Honorable Sylvia H. Rambo on 2/17/21. (ma)
Case 1:20-cv-01160-SHR-EB Document 33 Filed 02/17/21 Page 1 of 11
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
ALEXANDER W. NDAULA,
FACILITY, et al.,
This matter is before the Court pursuant to pro se Plaintiff Alexander W.
Ndaula (“Plaintiff”)’s motion for reconsideration (Doc. No. 28) of the Court’s
December 30, 2020 Memorandum and Order (Doc. Nos. 25, 26) granting in part the
motions to dismiss filed by Defendants. Defendants have filed briefs in opposition.
(Doc. Nos. 29, 30.) For the following reasons, the Court will deny Plaintiff’s motion
for reconsideration. 1
Plaintiff has filed a motion for an extension of time to file a reply brief in this matter. (Doc. No.
32.) The Court, however, notes that it is “under no obligation to refrain from considering
Plaintiff’s motion[s] until he file[s] a reply brief.” King v. Mansfield Univ. of Pa., No. 1:11-cv1112, 2015 WL 871693, at *3 (M.D. Pa. Feb. 27, 2015). The Local Rules of this Court make clear
that the Court has unlimited authority to decide a motion before the expiration of the typical
briefing schedule. See M.D. Pa. L.R. 7.6 (noting that “[n]othing in this rule shall be construed to
limit the authority of the [C]ourt to grant any motion before expiration of the prescribed period for
filing a brief in opposition”). The Court finds that the issues have been adequately briefed in
Plaintiff’s motion as well as Defendants’ responses such that any reply by Plaintiff “would [not]
have any material impact” on the Court’s decision. See Witasick v. Minn. Mut. Life Ins. Co., No.
12-3474, 2015 WL 758316, at *1 n.3 (D.N.J. Feb. 23, 2015). Accordingly, Plaintiff’s motion for
an extension of time (Doc. No. 32) will be denied as moot.
Case 1:20-cv-01160-SHR-EB Document 33 Filed 02/17/21 Page 2 of 11
On July 10, 2020, Plaintiff, who was previously detained at the Clinton
County Correctional Facility (“CCCF”) by the Department of Homeland Security
(“DHS”) Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), initiated the abovecaptioned action by filing a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the
Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) against Defendants CCCF, Warden
Angela Hoover (“Hoover”), Jason Kormanic (“Kormanic”), Well Path Care, and
Medical Supervisor Jody Bainey (“Bainey”). (Doc. No. 1.) Plaintiff also filed a
motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. No. 6.) In a Memorandum
and Order dated August 7, 2020, the Court granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in
forma pauperis and screened his complaint pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform
Act of 1995 (“PLRA”). (Doc. Nos. 7, 8.) The Court dismissed Plaintiff’s § 1983
against CCCF and his ADA claims against the individual Defendants and Well Path
Care with prejudice and dismissed his § 1983 claims against the individual
Defendants and Well Path Care without prejudice. (Doc. No. 8.) Plaintiff was
granted leave to file an amended complaint within thirty (30) days and was advised
that if he failed to do so, the above-captioned action would proceed only as to his
ADA claim against CCCF. (Id.) Plaintiff was advised that if he filed an amended
complaint “[i]t must be a pleading which stands by itself without reference to the
Case 1:20-cv-01160-SHR-EB Document 33 Filed 02/17/21 Page 3 of 11
original complaint or any other documents already filed.” (Id.) He was also advised
that the amended complaint would supersede the original complaint. (Id.)
After receiving an extension of time (Doc. No. 10, 11), Plaintiff filed his
amended complaint on October 12, 2020 (Doc. No. 13). Despite the Court’s August
7, 2020 Order, Plaintiff twice stated that he is incorporating all statements made in
his original complaint “as if stated herein.” (Id. ¶¶ 1, 13.) In his amended complaint,
Plaintiff stated that he was in custody at CCCF between August 21, 2018, and
December 17, 2019. (Doc. No. 13 ¶ 3.) On September 2, 2019, Plaintiff “slipped
and fell from the second-floor staircase of a housing unit.” (Id. ¶ 14.) The fall caused
him to “rupture his right patellar tendon, tear a muscle in his left shoulder blade, and
injure his back and neck.” (Id.) Plaintiff was “denied pain medication prescribed
for him at the local hospital.” (Id.) Plaintiff alleged that CCCF “has no reliable
medical transport system, lacks medical housing for the severely injured, and no
handicap accessible cells, toilets, and showers.” (ID. ¶ 15.) He maintained that his
“medical appointments to off premises specialists were routinely delayed, his post
operation therapy canceled on several occasions, and was denied any care for the
shoulder, neck, and back injuries he also complained of.” (Id. ¶ 16.) He claimed
that these actions “aggravated his injuries and extended his recovery process.” (Id.)
Plaintiff also suggested that he was denied hygiene from September 2, 2019 until
December 17, 2019. (Id. ¶ 20.) Plaintiff stated that he “cannot at this stage of these
Case 1:20-cv-01160-SHR-EB Document 33 Filed 02/17/21 Page 4 of 11
proceedings, and need not, provide any more factual detail in support of his
allegations against [D]efendants that is already set forth.” (Id. ¶ 17.) Plaintiff raised
violations of his due process rights by failing to provide adequate medical care and
based upon poor prison conditions. (Id. ¶¶ 19-20.) He also asserted violations of
Title II of the ADA because CCCF “lacked handicapped accessible cells, showers,
and toilets.” (Id. ¶ 21.) As relief, he sought damages. (Id. at 9.)
Defendants filed motions to dismiss the amended complaint. (Doc. Nos. 19,
23.) Plaintiff did not respond to the motions. In a Memorandum and Order dated
December 30, 2020, the Court granted in part and denied in part the motion to
dismiss filed by Defendants CCCF, Clinton County, Hoover, and Kormanic. (Doc.
Nos. 25, 26.) The Court entirely granted the motion to dismiss filed by Defendants
Well Path Care and Bainey. (Id.) The Court dismissed the § 1983 claims against
Defendants and allowed Plaintiff’s ADA claim against Defendants CCCF and
Clinton County to continue. (Id.) The Court did not grant Plaintiff leave to file a
second amended complaint with respect to his § 1983 claims, concluding that it
would be futile to do so because he “ha[d] already had two chances to tell his story.”
(Doc. No. 25 at 21 (quoting Jones v. Unknown D.O.c. Bus Driver & Transp. Crew,
944 F.3d 478, 483 (3d Cir. 2019).)
Plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration on January 26, 2021. (Doc. No.
28.) He maintains that reconsideration is required because the Court “overlooked
Case 1:20-cv-01160-SHR-EB Document 33 Filed 02/17/21 Page 5 of 11
‘facts or legal issues properly presented’ establishing he was denied medical care
and [D]efendants did not meet their burden of proof to establish the absence of a
genuine issue of material fact as to the seriousness of his medical needs.” (Id. at 3.)
He argues that his amended complaint properly referenced the original complaint
“for inference purposes.” (Id. at 4.) Plaintiff faults Defendants for not presenting
any evidence to refute his claims. (Id. at 8-19.) Plaintiff requests that the Court
grant his motion and allow his medical claims to go forward to discovery. (Id. at
Defendants maintain that Plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration should be
denied because: (1) it is untimely and (2) he has not met the standard for
reconsideration. (Doc. Nos. 29, 30.) The Court considers these arguments in turn
Timeliness of Plaintiff’s Motion
As noted supra, the Court’s December 30, 2020 Memorandum and Order did
not dispose of all of Plaintiff’s claims for relief. Accordingly, Plaintiff seeks
reconsideration of an interlocutory ruling, not a final judgment or order. While
reconsideration of a final judgment or order may be considered under Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure 59(e) or 60(b), “the appropriate Rule under which to file motions
for reconsideration of an interlocutory order is Rule 54(b).” Cezair v. JP Morgan
Case 1:20-cv-01160-SHR-EB Document 33 Filed 02/17/21 Page 6 of 11
Chase Bank N.A., No. 13-2928, 2014 WL 4955535, at *1 (D. Md. Sept. 30, 2014);
see also Qazizadeh v. Pinnacle Health Sys., 241 F. Supp. 3d 292, 298 (M.D. Pa.
2016) (noting that “motions for reconsideration of interlocutory orders—whether
denials of summary judgment, grants of partial summary judgment, or any other nonfinal orders—are motions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b)”). Rule 54(b)
[A]ny order or other decision, however designated, that adjudicates
fewer than all the claims or the rights and liabilities of fewer than all
the parties does not end the action as to any of the claims or parties and
may be revised at any time before the entry of a judgment adjudicating
all the claims and all the parties’ rights and liabilities.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b).
Defendants maintain that Plaintiff’s motion is untimely under Local Rule
7.10, which states: “Any motion for reconsideration or reargument must be
accompanied by a supporting brief and filed within fourteen (14) days after the entry
of the order concerned. This rule is not applicable to a motion to alter or amend a
judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. 59.” M.D. Pa. L.R. 7.10. This Court has previously
concluded that Local Rule 7.10 applies to motions for reconsideration pursuant to
Rule 54(b). See, e.g., Pressley v. Huber, No. 3:08-cv-449, 2017 WL 3268375, at *2
(M.D. Pa. Aug. 1, 2017); Nittany Outdoor Advertising, LLC v. College Twp., 179 F.
Supp. 3d 436, 439 (M.D. Pa. 2016).
Here, Plaintiff filed his motion for reconsideration more than fourteen (14)
Case 1:20-cv-01160-SHR-EB Document 33 Filed 02/17/21 Page 7 of 11
days after the Court entered its December 30, 2020 Memorandum and
Order. Plaintiff’s motion, therefore, is untimely pursuant to Local Rule 7.10.
“[D]istrict courts may not disregard local procedural rules without sound
justification for doing so.” United States ex rel. Streck v. Allergan, Inc., 288 F.R.D.
88, 90 (E.D. Pa. 2012). A court “can depart from the strictures of its own local
procedural rules where (1) it has a sound rationale for doing so, and (2) so doing
does not unfairly prejudice a party who has relied on the local rule to his detriment.”
United States v. Eleven Vehicles, Their Equip. & Accessories, 200 F.3d 203, 215 (3d
Cir. 2000). “In other words, local rules are binding on the district court unless there
is a justifiable reason to excuse their command.” Streck, 288 F.R.D. at 91. Nothing
before the Court suggests a basis for the Court to depart from the Local Rules and
conclude that Plaintiff’s motion is not untimely under Local Rule 7.10. As the Court
has previously noted, Plaintiff has received permission to electronically file using
the CM/ECF system. Plaintiff, therefore, receives all filings electronically, and he
does not receive the benefit, usually given to the majority of pro se plaintiffs, of any
additional days past the date on which a deadline ends to account for mailing
documents to the Court. Accordingly, Plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration is
untimely under Local Rule 7.10 and, for that reason alone, must be denied.
Standard for Reconsideration
A motion for reconsideration with respect to a final order or judgment must
Case 1:20-cv-01160-SHR-EB Document 33 Filed 02/17/21 Page 8 of 11
rely on one (1) of three (3) grounds: “(1) an intervening change in the controlling
law; (2) the availability of new evidence . . . or (3) the need to correct a clear error
of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice.” Max’s Seafood Cafe v. Quinteros,
176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999) (citing North River Ins. Co. v. CIGNA Reinsurance
Co., 52 F.3d 1194, 1218 (3d Cir. 1995)). The purpose of such a motion is “to correct
manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence.” Bootay v.
KBR, Inc., 437 F. App’x 140, 146-47 (3d Cir. 2011) (citing Harsco Corp. v.
Zlotnicki, 779 F.2d 906, 909 (3d Cir. 1985)). To be successful, the movant must
demonstrate a “definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed,” or
that the court overlooked arguments that were previously made. United States v.
Jasin, 292 F. Supp. 2d 670, 676 (E.D. Pa. 2003). “It may not be used as a means to
reargue unsuccessful theories or argue new facts or issues that were not presented to
the court in the context of the matter previously decided.” Gray v. Wakefield, No.
3:09-cv-979, 2014 WL 2526619, at *2 (M.D. Pa. June 4, 2014); see also Database
Am., Inc. v. Bellsouth Adver. & Publ’g Corp., 825 F. Supp. 1216, 1220 (D.N.J. 1993)
(“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
“While the standards articulated [above] are not binding in an analysis of Rule
Case 1:20-cv-01160-SHR-EB Document 33 Filed 02/17/21 Page 9 of 11
54(b) motions, courts frequently look to these standards for guidance in considering
such motions.” Ampro Computers, Inc. v. LXE, LLC, No. 13-1937, 2016 WL
3703129, at *2 (D. Del. July 8, 2016) (quoting Cezair, 2014 WL 4955535, at *1).
Reconsideration of interlocutory orders, however, “may be had even if the movant
cannot show an intervening change in controlling law, the availability of new
evidence that was not available when the court issued the underlying order, or the
‘need to correct a clear error of law or fact to prevent manifest injustice.’”
Qazizadeh, 214 F. Supp. 3d at 298 (quoting Quinteros, 176 F.3d at 677). “[T]he
court may permit reconsideration whenever ‘consonant with justice to do so.’” Id.
(quoting St. Mary’s Area Water Auth. v. St. Paul Fire and Marine Ins. Co., 472 F.
Supp. 2d 630, 632 (M.D. Pa. 2007)). Courts, however, should exercise this authority
with a “light hand.” Foster v. Westchester Fire Ins. Co., No. 09-1459, 2012 WL
2402895, at *4 (W.D. Pa. June 26, 2012). The United States Court of Appeals for
the Third Circuit has explained that while “[a] court has the power to revisit prior
decisions of its own or of a coordinate court in any circumstance . . . as a rule courts
should be loathe to do so in the absence of extraordinary circumstances such as
where the initial decision was clearly erroneous and would make a manifest
injustice.” In re Pharmacy Benefit Managers, 582 F.3d 432, 439 (3d Cir. 2009)
(quoting Christianson v. Colt Indus. Operating Corp., 486 U.S. 800, 816 (1988)).
Nothing in Plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration causes the Court to
Case 1:20-cv-01160-SHR-EB Document 33 Filed 02/17/21 Page 10 of 11
reconsider its dismissal of Plaintiff’s § 1983 claims against Defendants. As an initial
matter, Plaintiff’s argument that the Court erred in granting summary judgment to
Defendants is misplaced because the Court did not grant summary judgment. The
above-captioned case has not proceeded to that stage and, therefore, Defendants had
no burden to submit evidence with their motions to dismiss to refute Plaintiff’s
claims. Plaintiff essentially disagrees with the Court’s decision, and a “motion for
reconsideration is not properly grounded on a request that the Court simply rethink
a decision it has already made.” Douris v. Schweiker, 229 F. Supp. 2d 391, 408
(E.D. Pa. 2002). The Court explicitly told Plaintiff that his amended complaint could
not incorporate his original complaint. Plaintiff, however, disregarded that directive,
and, therefore, the Court did not consider any statements made in the original
complaint because the amended complaint is now the operative pleading. The
amended complaint, however, failed to set forth plausible § 1983 claims regarding
conditions of confinement and adequate medical care against Defendants.
Moreover, Plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration essentially seeks to argue against
Defendants’ motions to dismiss. Plaintiff had an opportunity to respond to the
motions and failed to do so. For these reasons, Plaintiff has failed to satisfy the
standard for motions for reconsideration, and his motion will, therefore, be denied.
Case 1:20-cv-01160-SHR-EB Document 33 Filed 02/17/21 Page 11 of 11
For the foregoing reasons, the Court will deny Plaintiff’s motion for
reconsideration. (Doc. No. 28.) Plaintiff’s motion for an extension of time (Doc.
No. 32) to file a reply brief will be denied as moot. An appropriate Order follows.
s/ Sylvia H. Rambo
United States District Judge
Dated: February 17, 2021
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?