Bissonette v. Dooley et al
ORDER denying 18 Motion to Set Aside Judgment. Signed by Chief Judge Jeffrey L. Viken on 11/15/17. (SB)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF SOUTH DAKOTA
DANNY D. BISSONETTE,
ROBERT DOOLEY, WARDEN; DAVID
GILBERTSON, CHIEF JUSTICE SOUTH
DAKOTA SUPREME COURT; AND
CRAIG A. PFEIFLE, CIR. COURT
Petitioner Danny D. Bissonette, appearing pro se, filed a petition for a writ
of habeas corpus. (Docket 1). Respondents filed a motion to dismiss Mr.
Bissonette’s petition for failure to abide by the statute of limitations. (Docket
10). Magistrate Judge Veronica L. Duffy entered a report and recommendation
concluding the court should grant respondents’ motion and dismiss Mr.
Bissonette’s petition because it is not timely. (Docket 14). Mr. Bissonette filed
objections to the report and recommendation. (Docket 15). After careful
review, the court overruled Mr. Bissonette’s objections and adopted in full the
magistrate judge’s report and recommendation. (Docket 16). The court
dismissed Mr. Bissonette’s petition with prejudice.1 Id.
court also declined to issue a certificate of appealability pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2253(c) and Rule 11 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in
the United States District Courts. Id. The order advised Mr. Bissonette of his
right to timely seek a certificate of appealability from the United States Court of
Appeals for the Eighth Circuit under Fed. R. App. P. 22. Id.
Pending before the court is Mr. Bissonette’s motion to set aside the court’s
order and judgment dismissing his case. (Docket 18). With his motion, Mr.
Bissonette submitted various supplemental filings. (Dockets 19, 20 & 21). Mr.
Bissonette did not frame his motion under a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure, but
his motion is “the functional equivalent of a motion” under either Rule 59(e) or
60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See DuBose v. Kelly, 187 F.3d
999, 1002 (8th Cir. 1999); see also Broadway v. Norris, 193 F.3d 987, 989 (8th
Cir. 1999) (“This motion was not directed to a final judgment, but rather to a
nonfinal order. By its terms, only Rule 60(b) encompasses a motion filed in
response to an order. Rule 59(e) motions are motions to alter or amend a
judgment, not any nonfinal order.”). Under either standard, Rule 59(e) or 60(b),
Mr. Bissonette’s motion fails.
Rule 59(e) provides “[a] motion to alter or amend a judgment must be filed
no later than 28 days after the entry of the judgment.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 59.
“Under Rule 59(e), the court may alter or amend its judgment only if it finds a
‘manifest’ error of law or fact in its ruling.” Baker v. John Morrell & Co., 266 F.
Supp. 2d 909, 918 (N.D. Iowa 2003), aff’d, 382 F.3d 816 (8th Cir. 2004) (citing
Hagerman v. Yukon Energy Corp., 839 F.2d 407, 414 (8th Cir. 1988). The
United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit succinctly described a
motion under Rule 59(e) as follows:
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) was adopted to clarify a district
court’s power to correct its own mistakes in the time period
immediately following entry of judgment. . . . Rule 59(e) motions
serve a limited function of correcting manifest errors of law or fact or
to present newly discovered evidence. . . . Such motions cannot be
used to introduce new evidence, tender new legal theories, or raise
arguments which could have been offered or raised prior to entry of
judgment. . . . A case in which a timely Rule 59(e) motion has been
filed lacks finality because the motion tolls the time limitation for
appeal in order to provide the trial court with jurisdiction to resolve
the motion. This tolling process encourages both correctness and
Innovative Home Health Care, Inc. v. P.T.-O.T. Associates of the Black Hills, 141
F.3d 1284, 1286 (8th Cir. 1998) (internal quotation marks and citations
omitted). “Denial of a Rule 59(e) motion is reviewed for abuse of discretion and
the district court abuses its discretion, for example, when it makes an error of
law or an erroneous factual finding.” Baker, 266 F. Supp. 2d at 919 (citing
Computrol, Inc. v. Newtrend, L.P., 203 F.3d 1064, 1070 (8th Cir. 2000) (further
“Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) provides that the court may relieve
a party from a final judgment for, among other reasons, mistake, inadvertence,
surprise, or excusable neglect.” MIF Realty L.P. v. Rochester Associates, 92
F.3d 752, 755 (8th Cir. 1996). “A Rule 60(b) motion is committed to the sound
discretion of the trial court, and [the Eighth Circuit] review[s] the district court’s
decision to grant or deny the motion only for an abuse of discretion.” Id. (citing
Rosebud Sioux Tribe v. A & P Steel, Inc., 733 F.2d 509, 515 (8th Cir.), cert.
denied, 469 U.S. 1072 (1984)). “Abuse of discretion occurs if the district court
rests its conclusion on clearly erroneous factual findings or if its decision relies
on erroneous legal conclusions.” Id. (internal quotation marks and citations
omitted). A Rule 60(b) motion is to be given a “liberal construction so as to do
substantial justice and to prevent the judgment from becoming a vehicle of
injustice.” Id. (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Although a
Rule 60(b) motion is generally disfavored, the motion “serve[s] a useful, proper
and necessary purpose in maintaining the integrity of the trial process[.]” Id.
“Rule 60(b) authorizes relief in only the most exceptional of cases.” In re
Guidant Corp. Implantable Defibrillators Products Liab. Litig., 496 F.3d 863, 866
(8th Cir. 2007) (quoting Noah v. Bond Cold Storage, 408 F.3d 1043, 1045 (8th
Cir. 2005)). “Relief under Rule 60(b) is an extraordinary remedy. It is not a
substitute for other legal remedies, and relief under this rule is to be granted only
when exceptional circumstances prevented a party from seeking redress through
the usual channels.” Nucor Corp. v. Nebraska Pub. Power Dist., 999 F.2d 372,
374 (8th Cir. 1993); see also Watkins v. Lundell, 169 F.3d 540, 544 (8th Cir.
1999) (“[E]xceptional circumstances must exist to justify intrusion into the
sanctity of a final judgment.”); In re Woodcock, 315 B.R. 487, 500 (Bankr. W.D.
Mo. 2004), aff’d, 326 B.R. 441 (B.A.P. 8th Cir. 2005) (“Rule 60(b)(6) is reserved for
extraordinary cases to prevent manifest injustice.”). “Rule 60(b)(6) does not give
courts unlimited authority to fashion relief as they deem appropriate.” In re
Zimmerman, 869 F.2d 1126, 1128 (8th Cir. 1989). “Relief is appropriate when
circumstances are so ‘unusual or compelling’ that extraordinary relief is
warranted, or when it ‘offends justice’ to deny such relief.” In re Woodcock, 315
B.R. at 500 (citations omitted). “Rule 60(b)(6) . . . grants federal courts broad
authority to relieve a party from a final judgment . . . provided that the motion is
made within a reasonable time and is not premised on one of the grounds for
relief enumerated in clauses (b)(1) through (b)(5).” Liljeberg v. Health Servs.
Acquisition Corp., 486 U.S. 847, 863 (1988).
Construing Mr. Bissonette’s motion liberally under Rule 59(e) and Rule
60(b), it is clear the claims he presents neither fall within the confines of those
rules nor serve as a basis for relief under those rules in this case.
Accordingly, it is
ORDERED that the Mr. Bissonette’s motion (Docket 18) is denied.
Dated November 15, 2017.
BY THE COURT:
/s/ Jeffrey L. Viken
JEFFREY L. VIKEN
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