Ackbar v. McFadden
ORDER denying 58 Motion for Reconsideration. Signed by Honorable Richard M Gergel on 07/24/2017.(dsto, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT comt1VEO CLERK'S OFFICE
FOR THE DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
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ORDER and OPINION
This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs Motion (Dkt. No. 58) to Alter or Amend this
Court's Order (Dkt. No. 55) adopting the Magistrate's Report and Recommendation ("R&R")
(Dkt. No. 49) and denying Plaintiffs Motion for Default Judgment. For the reasons below,
Plaintiffs Motion to Alter or Amend this Court's Order (Dkt. No. 58) is denied.
The Magistrate issued an R&R on June 22, 2017 (Dkt. No. 49) recommending that this
Court deny Plaintiffs Motion for Default Judgment. 1 The R&R recommended that the motion be
denied because default judgments are generally disfavored in habeas actions. See, e.g., Aziz v.
Leferve, 830 F .2d 184, 187 (11th Cir.1987) (noting that "a default judgment is not contemplated
in habeas corpus cases"). Further, a default judgment would be inappropriate in this case because
the Defendant did not default. Defendant's Return was originally due to be filed by May 2, 2017.
Plaintiff titled his motion "Petitioner's Motion to Alter or Amend." (Doc. No. 44). However, the motion
is being treated as a Motion for Default Judgment because he requests a default judgment.
(Dkt. No. 20). On May 2, 2017, Defendant filed a motion for an extension of time. (Dkt. No.
20). The Magistrate granted the extension, giving Defendant up to and including June 1, 2017, to
file the Return. (Dkt. No. 29). On June 1, 2017, Defendant filed a motion for a one-day extension
to file the Return. (Dkt. No. 37). This motion for a one-day extension was granted on June 1,
2017, giving Defendant up to and including June 2, 2017, to file the Return. (Dkt. No. 38).
Defendant filed the Return and Memorandum on June 2, 2017. (Dkt. No 40).
II. Legal Standard
a. Motion to Alter or Amend a Judgement
Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs Motions to Alter or Amend a
Judgment, but the Rule does not provide a standard for such motions. The Fourth Circuit
provides "three grounds for amending an earlier judgment: (1) to accommodate an intervening
change in controlling law; (2) to account for new evidence not available at trial; or (3) to correct
a clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice." Pac. Ins. Co. v. Am. Nat'! Fire Ins. Co., 148
F.3d 396, 403 (4th Cir. 1998). "Rule 59(e) motions may not be used, however, to raise arguments
which could have been raised prior to the issuance of the judgment, nor may they be used to
argue a case under a novel legal theory that the party had the ability to address in the first
instance." Id. at 403 (citations omitted). Rule 59(e) provides an "extraordinary remedy that
should be used sparingly." Id. (citation omitted).
Plaintiff argues that the Magistrate showed "improper favoritism" by granting
Defendant's motions for extensions of time and that he has been the victim of a "manifest
injustice." (Dkt. No. 58, 4-5). The Fourth Circuit has repeatedly expressed a strong preference
that default judgments should be avoided so that claims and defenses are disposed of on their
merits. Colleton Preparatory Acad., Inc. v. Hoover Universal, Inc., 616 F.3d 413, 417 (4th Cir.
2010); Tazco, Inc. v. Director, Office of Workers Compensation Program, US. Department of
Labor, 895 F.2d 949, 950 (4th Cir.1990) ("The law disfavors default judgments as a general
matter."). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(c) must be "liberally construed" to provide relief
from the onerous consequences of defaults judgments. Lolackly v. Arthur Murray, 816 F.2d 951,
954 (4th Cir. 1987).
Defendant's motions for extensions of time were made in good faith due to Defendant's
involvement with other pending matters in state and federal court. (Dkt. No. 28, 37). This court
has the authority to grant extensions under such circumstances. Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(b)(4) ("[w]hen
an act may or must be done within a specified time, the court may, for good cause, extend the
time ... "). Moreover, the extensions granted in this case were modest, providing Defendant with
only one additional month to file his Return.
For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiffs Motion to Alter or Amend the Judgment (Dkt. No.
58) is DENIED.
AND IT IS SO ORDERED.
United States District Judge
July ~4 2017
Charleston, South Carolina
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