United States District Court, District of Columbia
WALTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
plaintiffs, Blue Water Baltimore, Chester River Association,
Gunpowder Riverkeeper, Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy,
Potomac Riverkeeper Network, and Waterkeepers Chesapeake, all
non-profit environmental organizations dedicated to
protecting local watersheds in Maryland, initiated this
action against Scott Pruitt, in his official capacity as the
Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection
Agency (the “EPA”), challenging the EPA's
approval of Maryland's 2012 Integrated Report of Surface
Water Quality (the “2012 Integrated Report”)
under the Administrative Procedure Act (the
“APA”), 5 U.S.C. §§ 701-06 (2012).
See Complaint (“Compl.”) ¶¶ 1,
4-11, 16. On July 18, 2017, the Court issued a Memorandum
Opinion dismissing the plaintiffs' Complaint under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) because their
challenges were found to be moot. See Blue Water Balt. v.
Pruitt, ___ F.Supp.3d ___, ___, 2017 WL 3049405, at *7
(D.D.C. July 18, 2017) (Walton, J.). Currently before the
Court are the Plaintiffs' Motion to Alter or Amend the
Judgment (“Pls.' Rule 59 Mot.”) and the
Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint
(“Pls.' Rule 15 Mot.”).
careful consideration of the parties' submissions,
Court concludes that it must grant both of the
Court discussed the factual and statutory background of this
case in its Memorandum Opinion issued on July 18, 2017,
see Blue Water Balt., ___ F.Supp.3d at ___, 2017 WL
3049405, at *1-3, and will not reiterate those facts again
here. In that opinion, the Court granted the EPA's motion
to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) because the EPA's approval
of Maryland's “2014 Integrated Report superseded
the 2012 Integrated Report, thus mooting the plaintiffs'
challenge to the reclassifications [of fifty-three water
bodies] in the 2012 Integrated Report, ” id.
at *5, and the plaintiffs' challenge did not meet the
capable of repetition, yet evading review exception to the
mootness doctrine, see id. at *7. In the
accompanying Order, the Court dismissed the plaintiffs'
Complaint “with prejudice.” Order at 1 (July 18,
2017), ECF No. 24. On August 14, 2017, the plaintiffs
simultaneously filed their motions,  requesting that the Court
modify its July 18, 2017 Order to redesignate that the
dismissal of their Complaint is without prejudice and grant
them leave to file an amended complaint to challenge the
EPA's approval of Maryland's 2014 Integrated Report.
See Pls.' Rule 59 Mot. at 1.
STANDARDS OF REVIEW
Motion to Alter or Amend a Judgment
Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) permits a party to file
“[a] motion to alter or amend a judgment” within
“[twenty-eight] days after the entry of the
judgment.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e). However, motions under
Rule 59(e) are “disfavored, ” and the moving
party bears the burden of establishing “extraordinary
circumstances” warranting relief from a final judgment.
E.g., Niedermeier v. Office of Baucus, 153
F.Supp.2d 23, 28 (D.D.C. 2001) (citing Anyanwutaku v.
Moore, 151 F.3d 1053, 1057 (D.C. Cir. 1998)).
“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.” Anyanwutaku, 151 F.3d at 1057-58
(citation and internal quotation marks omitted). A court must
grant a Rule 59(e) motion “if [its] dismissal of the
complaint with prejudice was erroneous; that is, the Rule
59(e) motion should be granted unless ‘the allegation
of other facts consistent with the challenged pleading could
not possibly cure the deficiency.'” Brink v.
Cont'l Ins. Co., 787 F.3d 1120, 1128 (D.C. Cir.
2015) (quoting Firestone v. Firestone, 76 F.3d 1205,
1209 (D.C. Cir. 1996)).
Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a), the court should
“freely give leave” to a party to amend its
pleading “when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
15(a)(2). Leave to amend should be granted “[i]n the
absence of any apparent or declared reason-such as undue
delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the
movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments
previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by
virtue of allowance of the amendment, [or] futility of [the]
amendment.” Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182
Order Dismissing the Complaint with Prejudice
plaintiffs argue that the Court erred in dismissing their
Complaint with prejudice because “[d]ismissal of a
complaint for jurisdictional reasons such as mootness should
be without prejudice.” Pls.' Rule 59 Mem. at 3. As
support for this position, they cite Rule 41(b), see
id., which provides that “[u]nless the dismissal
order states otherwise, [an involuntary dismissal]-except one
for lack of jurisdiction, improper venue, or failure to join
a party under Rule 19-operates as an adjudication on the
merits, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b), and note that
“‘adjudication on the merits' in this context
means dismissal with prejudice, ” Pls.' Rule 59
Mem. at 3. Therefore, according to the plaintiffs, the
Court's conclusion that the plaintiffs' claims were
moot does not constitute an adjudication on the merits.
See id. at 3-4.
Court agrees with the plaintiffs that their Complaint should
have been dismissed without prejudice under Rule 41(b).
“[T]he Supreme Court [has] concluded that an
‘adjudication upon the merits' under Rule 41(b) is
synonymous with a dismissal with prejudice and ‘the
opposite of a dismissal without prejudice.'”
Havens v. Mabus, 759 F.3d 91, 98 (D.C. Cir. 2014)
(quoting Semtek Int'l Inc. v. Lockheed Martin
Corp., 531 U.S. 497, 505 (2001)). Therefore, “[a]
jurisdictional dismissal-which is not an
adjudication on the merits under Rule 41(b)-is, then, a
dismissal without prejudice.” Id.; see
also Kasap v. Folger Nolan Fleming & Douglas, Inc.,
166 F.3d 1243, 1248 (D.C. Cir. 1999) (“We conclude by
noting that the district court improperly dismissed
appellant's suit with prejudice. As appellees concede,
dismissals for lack of jurisdiction are not decisions on the
merits . . . .”). Dismissals on the grounds of mootness
and other justiciability doctrines are treated as
jurisdictional dismissals, see Conservation Force, Inc.
v. Jewell, 733 F.3d 1200, 1204 (D.C. Cir. 2013)
(“Federal courts lack jurisdiction to decide moot cases
because their constitutional authority extends only to actual
cases or controversies.” (quoting Iron Arrow Honor
Soc'y v. Heckler, 464 U.S. 67, 70 (1983)));
Attias v. Carefirst, Inc., 865 F.3d 620, 624-25
(D.C. Cir. 2017) (affirming the district court's grant of
dismissal under Rule 12(b)(1) because the plaintiffs lacked
Article III standing); see also 18A Charles Alan
Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and
Procedure § 4436 (2d ed. 2002) ...