United States District Court, District of Columbia
B. WALTON United States District Judge
Dionne Lewis and Felton Hill, the named plaintiffs in this
civil suit, bring this putative class action against the
District of Columbia (“the District”) under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 (2012), alleging constitutional violations
arising from their arrests and subsequent detentions by the
District in 2014. See generally Second Amended
Complaint and Jury Demand (“2d Am. Compl.”).
Currently before the Court are the Plaintiffs' Motion for
Reconsideration pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
54 (“Pls.' Rule 54 Mot.”), the
Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to Amend the Second Amended
Complaint and to File Third Amended Complaint pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15 (“Pls.' Rule 15
Mot.”), and the Plaintiffs' Motion to Sever Claims
Two and Three into Two Separate Actions pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 21 (“Pls.' Rule 21
Mot.”). Upon careful consideration of the parties'
submissions,  the Court concludes for the reasons that
follow that it must deny all of the plaintiffs' motions.
Court discussed the factual background of this case in its
Memorandum Opinion issued on June 27, 2016, see Lewis v.
District of Columbia, 195 F.Supp.3d 53, 56-57 (D.D.C.
2016) (Walton, J.), as well as in its Order issued on May 15,
2017, see Order (“May 15, 2017 Order”)
at 2-3 (May 15, 2017), ECF No. 36, and will not reiterate
those facts again here. In their Second Amended Complaint,
the plaintiffs asserted three claims under 42 U.S.C. §
1983: (1) Fourth Amendment violations resulting from the
District's policy of “holding [individuals] after
[their] presentment[s and] after the administrative steps
incident to their arrests had been completed without an
affirmative finding of probable cause . . . so that the
District could ‘perfect the
Gerstein'” affidavits required to legally
authorize their detentions (the “Gerstein
claim”),  2d Am. Compl. ¶ 101; (2) Fourth
Amendment violations resulting from the District's
practice of “holding [individuals] for more than
[forty-eight] hours after their arrest without a finding of
probable cause by a judicial officer” (the
“Riverside claim”),  id.
¶ 105; and (3) Fourth and Fifth Amendment violations
resulting from the District's policy of “subjecting
[individuals] to blanket strip-searches at the [District of
Columbia] Jail after presentment . . . without an affirmative
finding of probable cause so that the District could
‘perfect the Gerstein'” affidavits
(the “strip search claim”), id. ¶
110. The plaintiffs sought through their Second Amended
Complaint, which they now seek to amend, both declaratory
relief and money damages. See id. at 21-22.
May 15, 2017 Order, the Court held that the United States
Attorney for the District of Columbia (the “U.S.
Attorney”) is a required party to this litigation under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19(a)(1) for two reasons.
See May 15, 2017 Order at 6-7. First, the Court
concluded that the U.S. Attorney is a required party under
Rule 19(a)(1)(B)(i) because “Assistant U.S. Attorneys
are supposed to review the Gerstein statements
prepared by [ ] police officers to ensure that they satisfy
the probable cause requirement necessary to merit the filing
of charges against arrestees, ” and “any ruling
the Court makes in this case will necessarily impact the
operations of the U.S. Attorney's office because it will
impact the papering, i.e., processing, of arrestees
charged with offenses prosecuted by that office.”
Id. at 7; see also id. (“[T]he U.S.
Attorney, as one of the two prosecuting authorities in the
District, ‘claims an interest relating to' the
policies and procedures governing probable cause hearings in
Superior Court, and [ ] disposing of the suit without the
U.S. Attorney could ‘impair or impede [her] ability to
protect th[at] interest.'” (last alteration in
original) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 19(a)(1)(B)(i))). Second, the
Court concluded that the U.S. Attorney is also a required
party under Rule 19(a)(1)(A) because the Court “could
not ‘accord complete relief among existing parties'
without the inclusion of the U.S. Attorney [given that] any
relief it may grant on behalf of the plaintiffs . . . could
not bind the U.S. Attorney if [s]he is not a party in this
Court, however, declined to dismiss the case pursuant to Rule
12(b)(7) at that time because (1) “dismissal pursuant
to Rule 12(b)(7) ‘is warranted only when the defect is
serious and cannot be cured, '” id.
(quoting Direct Supply, Inc. v. Specialty Hosps. of Am.,
LLC, 878 F.Supp.2d 13, 23 (D.D.C. 2012)); (2)
“Rule 19 requires the Court to join a required party
that has not been joined, ” id. (citing
Fed.R.Civ.P. 19(a)(2)); and (3) “the District ha[d]
made no argument that the U.S. Attorney's absence cannot
be cured, ” id. Accordingly, the Court ordered
the plaintiffs to “file a third amended complaint
including the [U.S.] Attorney . . . as a defendant.”
Id. at 8.
of including the U.S. Attorney as a party as directed by the
Court, the plaintiffs filed their motion for leave to file a
third amended complaint that omits their Gerstein
claim and amends the allegations and proposed class
definitions in order “to obviate the need to join the
U.S. Attorney.” Pls.' Rule 15 Mot. at 3. In
response to this submission, the Court
conclude[d] that it would benefit from full briefing on
whether the District . . . believes that the plaintiffs'
proposed third amended complaint resolves the need to join
the U.S. Attorney as a party, and the plaintiffs'
response thereto, in light of the Court's prior
“conclu[sion] that the U.S. Attorney, as one of the two
prosecuting authorities in the District, ‘claims an
interest relating to' the policies and procedures
governing probable cause hearings in Superior Court, and that
disposing of the suit without the U.S. Attorney could
‘impair or impede [her] ability to protect th[at]
at 2-3 (June 6, 2017), ECF No. 39 (second and fourth
alterations in original) (quoting May 15, 2017 Order at 7).
the plaintiffs' motion for leave to file their third
amended complaint was fully briefed, the plaintiffs filed
their motion to sever their strip search claim,
propos[ing] that the Court grant [their] [m]otion [ ] for
leave to amend . . ., grant the[ir] motion to sever, and
then, if the Court concludes that the [U.S. Attorney] is a
[required party, order [plaintiff] Lewis to file a
Fourth Amended Complaint naming the [U.S. Attorney] as a
party to [the Riverside claim] but not the severed
[strip search claim].
Rule 21 Mot. at 1. Thereafter, the plaintiffs filed their
motion for reconsideration, requesting that the Court
reconsider its ruling in the May 15, 2017 Order “that
the U.S. Attorney is a [required] party to the case pursuant
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 19(a)(1)(A) and . . . (a)(1)(B)(i).”
Pls.' Rule 54 Mot. at 1.
STANDARDS OF REVIEW
Motion for Reconsideration
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b), any order or decision
that does not constitute a final judgment “may be
revised at any time before the entry of a judgment
adjudicating all the claims and all the parties' rights
and liabilities.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b). Although
“district court[s] ha[ve] ‘broad discretion to
hear a motion for reconsideration brought under Rule 54(b),
'” Univ. of Colo. Health at Mem'l Hosp. v.
Burwell, 164 F.Supp.3d 56, 62 (D.D.C. 2016) (quoting
Isse v. Am. Univ., 544 F.Supp.2d 25, 29 (D.D.C.
2008)), district courts grant motions for reconsideration of
interlocutory orders only “as justice requires, ”
Capitol Sprinkler Inspection, Inc. v. Guest Servs.,
Inc., 630 F.3d 217, 227 (D.C. Cir. 2011) (quoting
Greene v. Union Mut. Life Ins. Co. of Am., 764 F.2d
19, 22-23 (1st Cir. 1985)).
deciding whether “justice requires” revision of a
prior interlocutory order, courts assess circumstances such
as “whether the court ‘patently'
misunderstood the parties, made a decision beyond the
adversarial issues presented, made an error in failing to
consider controlling decisions or data, or whether a
controlling or significant change in the law has
occurred.” In Defense of Animals v. Nat'l
Insts. of Health, 543 F.Supp.2d 70, 75 (D.D.C. 2008)
(quoting Singh v. George Wash. Univ., 383 F.Supp.2d
99, 101 (D.D.C. 2005)); see also Davis v. Joseph J.
Magnolia, Inc., 893 F.Supp.2d 165, 168 (D.D.C. 2012)
(“[A] motion for reconsideration is discretionary and
should not be granted unless the movant presents either newly
discovered evidence or errors of law or fact that need
correction.”). “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)
(citing Husayn v. Gates, 588 F.Supp.2d 7, 10 (D.D.C.
2008)). And, motions for reconsideration cannot be used to
either reassert arguments previously raised and rejected by
the court or present arguments that should have been raised
previously with the court. See Estate of Gaither ex rel.
Gaither v. District of Columbia, 771 F.Supp.2d 5, 10
& n.4 (D.D.C. 2011).
Motion for Leave to ...