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Zuza v. Office of High Representaitve

United States District Court, District of Columbia

February 4, 2016

ZORAN ZUZA, Plaintiff,
v.
OFFICE OF THE HIGH REPRESENTATIVE, et al, Defendants. Re Document Nos. 19, 28, 30, 37

MEMORANDUM OPINION DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION, DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO STRIKE, DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR JURISDICTIONAL DISCOVERY, AND DENYING AS MOOT PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR ORDER

RUDOLPH CONTRERAS JUDGE

I. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

Defendants in this action-the Office of the High Representative (OHR), and the former and current High Representatives-are international entities tasked with managing peace agreement implementation efforts in Bosnia and Herzegovina. See Zuza v. Office of High Representative, 107 F.Supp.3d 90, 91-92 (D.D.C. 2015), ECF No. 18 (discussing the factual background of this case). Because the Court found Defendants immune from suit under the International Organizations Immunities Act (IOIA), [1] the Court dismissed Plaintiff Zoran Zuza's claims against Defendants. See Order, ECF No. 17; Zuza, 107 F.Supp.3d at 94-100.

Zuza timely filed a motion to alter or amend the judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e). See Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e); PL's Mot. Recons., ECF No. 19. Zuza's motion urges the Court to reconsider its dismissal because he claims that (1) King v. Burwell, 135 S.Ct. 2480 (2015), is an intervening change in controlling law, and (2) the Court’s decision was based on errors of law. See Pl.’s Mot. Recons. 1; Mem. P. & A. Supp. Pl.’s Mot. Recons. 5-45, ECF No. 19-1. After preliminary review of Zuza’s motion, the Court ordered supplemental briefing on one of Zuza’s arguments and also requested a statement of interest from the United States. See Order, ECF No. 23; Request for Statement of Interest, ECF No. 33.

In the course of supplemental briefing, Zuza also filed three additional motions: a motion to strike portions of Defendants’ supplemental brief, a motion for leave to conduct jurisdictional discovery, and a motion for an order obliging Defendants to respond to the other two recently filed motions. See Pl.’s Mot. Strike, ECF No. 28; Pl.’s Mot. for Leave to Conduct Limited Jurisdictional Discovery, ECF No. 30; Pl.’s Mot. Order, ECF No. 37.

After considering all the parties’ filings and the United States’ statement of interest, the Court finds that the arguments in Zuza’s motion for reconsideration, motion to strike, and motion for leave to conduct jurisdictional discovery have no merit. The Court will therefore deny these three motions. And because Zuza’s last motion seeks further briefing on his motion to strike and his motion for leave to conduct jurisdictional discovery, the Court will deny Zuza’s last motion as moot.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

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 error or prevent manifest injustice.” Ciralsky v. CIA, 355 F.3d 661, 671 (D.C. Cir. 2004) (quoting Firestone v. Firestone, 76 F.3d 1205, 1208 (D.C. Cir. 1996)). Such motions cannot be used as “an opportunity to reargue facts and theories upon which a court has already ruled, nor as a vehicle for presenting theories or arguments that could have been advanced earlier.” Estate of Gaither ex rel. Gaither v. District of Columbia, 771 F.Supp.2d 5, 10 (D.D.C. 2011) (quoting SEC v. Bilzerian, 729 F.Supp.2d 9, 14 (D.D.C. 2010)). “The burden is on the moving party to show that reconsideration is appropriate and that harm or injustice would result if reconsideration were denied.” United States ex rel. Westrick v. Second Chance Body Armor, Inc., 893 F.Supp.2d 258, 268 (D.D.C. 2012) (placing the burden on the movant in the context of a Rule 54(b) motion for reconsideration); see also Kittner v. Gates, 783 F.Supp.2d 170, 172 (D.D.C. 2011) (same, for motions under Rules 59(e) and 60(b)).

III. ANALYSIS

A. King v. Burwell

Zuza first argues that the Supreme Court’s opinion last year in King v. Burwell compels an analysis of the IOIA different from the textual approach adopted in this Court’s decision on Defendants’ motion to dismiss. See King v. Burwell, 135 S.Ct. 2480 (2015); see also Mem. P. & A. Supp. Pl.’s Mot. Recons. 5-12. King teaches that, though courts “must enforce” plain statutory language, “when deciding whether the language is plain, [courts] must read the words ‘in their context and with a view to their place in the overall statutory scheme.’” King, 135 S.Ct. at 2489 (quoting FDA v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., 529 U.S. 120, 133 (2000)).

But King’s reasoning does not affect this Court’s IOIA analysis, even assuming that King is an “intervening change of controlling law.” Ciralsky v. CIA, 355 F.3d 661, 671 (D.C. Cir. 2004) (quoting Firestone v. Firestone, 76 F.3d 1205, 1208 (D.C. Cir. 1996)).[2] In keeping with King’s mandate, this Court considered “as a whole, ” rather than “in isolation, ” the text of IOIA sections 1, 2(b), and 7(b), the 2010 amendment to the IOIA, [3] and the relevant executive order[4]before concluding that the statutory language was so “plain” that it enabled an analysis that “begins and ends” with the text. See King, 135 S.Ct. at 2495 (explaining that though a statutory phrase’s meaning may seem plain “when viewed in isolation, ” its plain meaning may turn out to be “untenable in light of the statute as a whole” (internal quotation marks and brackets omitted) (quoting Dep’t of Revenue of Or. v. ACF Indus., Inc., 510 U.S. 332, 343 (1994))); Zuza, 107 F.Supp.3d at 93-95.

Alternatively, King allows for consideration of a statute’s “broader structure” when statutory text is ambiguous. See King, 135 S.Ct. at 2492. But Zuza’s motion cites no statutory text or purpose that creates ambiguity. See Mem. P. & A. Supp. Pl.’s Mot. Recons. 5-12.[5] Thus, to the extent Zuza seeks to advance an argument that the IOIA’s text is ambiguous, Zuza ...


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