Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Elizabeth Sheppard v. District of Columbia et al

June 3, 2011

ELIZABETH SHEPPARD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge

: Re Document No.: 10

MEMORANDUM OPINION

DENYING THE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR RELIEF UPON RECONSIDERATION

I. INTRODUCTION

The plaintiff alleges that the defendants violated her due process and her equal protection rights by failing to process her claim for disability benefits pursuant to D.C. Code § 1-623.24(a-3)(1). The court previously granted the defendants' motion to dismiss after determining that the plaintiff's claims were precluded under the doctrine of res judicata. The matter returns before the court on the plaintiff's motion for relief upon reconsideration of the court's order dismissing her action.*fn1 Because the plaintiff has not persuaded the court that it erred in dismissing the case, the court denies her motion.

II. FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND*fn2

In January 2006, the plaintiff filed a claim for permanent partial disability benefits with the Disability Compensation Program ("DCP") of the District of Columbia. Compl. ¶¶ 12, 15. As a general matter, the DCP was, at the time, statutorily required to determine whether to award a payment of compensation within thirty days of the filing of a disability claim. D.C. CODE §1-623.24(a-3)(1) (2006). The DCP's failure to make such a determination resulted in the claim's automatic acceptance with "payment of compensation [commencing] on the 31st day following the date the [disability] claim was filed." Id.

The plaintiff filed a disability claim with the DCP on January 25, 2006. Compl. ¶ 15. After thirty days elapsed without either a decision by the defendant or an automatic acceptance of her claim, the plaintiff sought an order from an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") declaring that the DCP had accepted her disability claim pursuant to D.C. Code § 1-623.24(a-3)(1). Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. 2 (Pl.'s Pet. to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals ("Pl.'s D.C. Pet.")) at 2. The ALJ determined that D.C. Code § 1-623.24(a-3)(1) did not apply to the plaintiff's claim because that provision applied only to an applicant's "initial claim" for disability benefits. See Notice (Jan. 14, 2011), ALJ's Order at 3-5. According to the ALJ, the plaintiff's claim was not an initial claim because she had filed previous claims for benefits arising from the same injury. See id. The plaintiff appealed to the Compensation Review Board ("CRB"), which affirmed the ALJ's ruling. See generally id., CRB Decision.

The plaintiff appealed the CRB's decision to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, arguing, inter alia, that the defendants' failure to render a decision on her claim violated her due process and equal protection rights. Pl.'s D.C. Pet. at 17-22. The District of Columbia Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the CRB without addressing the plaintiff's constitutional claims. See generally Sheppard v. D.C. Dep't of Emp't Servs., 993 A.2d 525 (D.C. 2010) (per curiam).

The plaintiff subsequently commenced this action, claiming that the defendants violated her due process and equal protection rights guaranteed by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, respectively. Compl. ¶¶ 6-7. In June 2010, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the plaintiff's claims were barred under the doctrine of res judicata. Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss at 3. The court granted the defendants' motion on February 22, 2011, holding that the plaintiff's claims were precluded by res judicata because she had previously asserted the same claim in a case involving the same parties before the District of Columbia Court of Appeals,*fn3 and for which that court issued a valid, final judgment on the merits. Sheppard v. Dist. of Columbia, 2011 WL 710211, at *5-6 (D.D.C. Feb. 22, 2011).

On February 25, 2011, the plaintiff filed this motion for relief upon reconsideration of the court's February 2011 ruling. See generally Pl.'s Mot. With the motion now ripe for adjudication, the court turns to the applicable legal standards and the parties' arguments.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Legal Standard for a Rule 59(e) Motion

A motion to alter or amend a judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) must be filed within twenty-eight days of the entry of the judgment at issue. FED. R. CIV. P. 59(e). While the court has considerable discretion in ruling on a Rule 59(e) motion, the reconsideration and amendment of a previous order is an unusual measure. Firestone v. Firestone, 76 F.3d 1205, 1208 (D.C. Cir. 1996) (per curiam); McDowell v. Calderon, 197 F.3d 1253, 1255 (9th Cir. 1999). Rule 59(e) motions "need not be granted unless the district court finds that there is an intervening change of controlling law, the availability of new evidence, or the need to correct a clear legal error or prevent manifest injustice." Ciralsky v. Cent. Intelligence Agency, 355 F.3d 661, 671 (D.C. Cir. 2004) (quoting Firestone, 76 F.3d at 1208). Moreover, "[a] Rule 59(e) motion to reconsider is not simply an opportunity to reargue facts and theories upon which a court has already ruled," New York v. United States, 880 F. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.