United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
RANDOLPH D. MOSS, United States District Judge
Court previously determined that pro se prisoner
plaintiff Alexander Otis Matthews accumulated three or more
“strikes” under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g) before
he filed this action. See Matthews v. FBI, 211
F.Supp.3d 148, 150 (D.D.C. 2016) (“Matthews
I”). The Court then dismissed the action without
prejudice. Id. Matthews now moves for
reconsideration of the three-strikes determination under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e). See Dkt. 32.
In Matthews's view, only one of the four prior actions
which the Court identified constitutes a strike. Id.
The Court disagrees and will accordingly DENY the motion.
said, the Court's dismissal of the action was too hasty.
Matthews's “strikes” do not bar him from
prosecuting his case altogether; they merely bar him from
doing so without first paying the filing fee. To afford
Matthews the chance to pay the fee, the Court, on its own
motion, will VACATE its order dismissing the case, will
REVOKE Matthews's in forma pauperis status, and
will ORDER that Matthews pay the balance of the filing fee on
or before thirty days from the date of this opinion, or the
Court will dismiss his case without prejudice.
motion to alter or amend a judgment under Rule 59(e)
“is discretionary and 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) (internal quotation mark omitted). Such
motions are “generally disfavored” absent
“extraordinary circumstances.” Dage v.
Johnson, 537 F.Supp.2d 43, 48 (D.D.C. 2008). A Rule
59(e) motion “is not a vehicle to present a new legal
theory that was available prior to judgment, ”
Patton Boggs LLP v. Chevron Corp., 683 F.3d 397, 403
(D.C. Cir. 2012), nor is it an opportunity “to reargue
facts and theories upon which a court has already ruled,
” New York v. United States, 880 F.Supp. 37,
38 (D.D.C. 1995).
must ordinarily pay a filing fee before instituting a civil
action. 28 U.S.C. § 1914. Individuals unable to do so
may seek in forma pauperis (“IFP”)
status. Prisoners granted IFP status must still pay the full
filing fee over time, but they need not pay in advance in
order to commence the action. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b);
see Thompson v. DEA, 492 F.3d 428, 431 (D.C. Cir.
2007); Credico v. DHS, 170 F.Supp.3d 1, 2 (D.D.C.
so-called “three strikes” rule in 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(g), however, “limits courts' discretion
to grant IFP status to prisoners with a track record of
frivolous litigation.” Thompson, 492 F.3d at
431. That rule bars prisoners from proceeding IFP “if
the prisoner has, on 3 or more prior occasions, while
incarcerated or detained in any facility, brought an action .
. . dismissed on the grounds that it is frivolous, malicious,
or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted.” § 1915(g). The statute excepts prisoners
“under imminent danger of serious physical injury,
” id., but Matthews does not invoke that
prior opinion, the Court held that, “before Matthews
filed the instant action on April 16, 2015, he had filed at
least four different actions that were dismissed as frivolous
or for failure to state a claim, and which therefore
constitute ‘strikes' for purposes of 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(g).” Matthews I, 211 F.Supp.3d at
150. In particular, the Court identified the following cases:
(1) Matthews v. Sobh, No. 12-cv-294 (E.D. Va. Apr.
11, 2012), ECF No. 2;
(2) Matthews v. Hull, No. 13-cv-450, 2014 WL
12527224 (E.D. Va. Feb. 12, 2014), ECF No. 35;
(3) Matthews v. Sullivan, No. 14-cv-500, 2014 WL
2206853 (D. Md. May 23, 2014), ECF No. 9; and
(4) Matthews v. HSBC Bank, USA, Nat'l Ass'n,
No. 14-cv-810, 2014 WL 12538173 (E.D. Va. July 26, 2014), ECF
Id. Matthews now disputes that three of these
actions constitute “strikes.” See Dkt.
32 at 1-2. The Court considers each action in turn.
Dismissal of Matthews v. Sobh (Strike 1)
the first putative strike, Matthews contends that the
dismissal of his action for failure to state a claim in
Matthews v. Sobh, No. 12-cv-294 (E.D. Va. Apr. 11,
2012), ECF No. 2, should not count because Matthews
“has a [pending] motion ...