United States District Court, District of Columbia
D. BATES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is  plaintiffs' motion to alter the
judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) or
relieve them from judgment under Rule 60(b). For the reasons
explained below, the Court will deny the motion.
Court will assume familiarity with the facts of this case as
set out in its prior opinions. See Mar. 30, 2018
Mem. Op. [ECF No. 34]; Mar. 24, 2016 Mem. Op. [ECF No.
Plaintiffs are family members of Moses Kinyua, who was
injured in al Qaeda's bombing of the U.S. Embassy in
Nairobi, Kenya in 1998. They filed a lawsuit sixteen years
later, alleging that Sudan and Iran were liable for their
emotional distress and other injuries under the Foreign
Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). Compl. [ECF No. 1] at 2.
Sudan challenged plaintiffs' claims as untimely and, on
March 24, 2016, the Court dismissed plaintiffs' claims
against the Sudanese defendants as outside the FSIA's
statute of limitations. See Mar. 24, 2016 Order [ECF
No. 29]. Iran, on the other hand, never appeared in the case,
as is its custom in FSIA cases. Because plaintiffs had not
briefed the statute of limitations issue as applied to Iran,
the Court did not immediately dismiss the claims against the
Iranian defendants, but rather ordered plaintiffs to show
cause why those claims should not likewise be dismissed.
Id. Plaintiffs filed a supplemental brief providing
several reasons why they believed the statute of limitations
should not bar their claims against the Iranian defendants.
See Pls.' Supp. Br. [ECF No. 31] at 2-6.
Court examined the issue, however, Sudan appealed the
Court's judgment holding Sudan liable for the 1998
embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in several other FSIA
cases. The Court therefore decided neither to dismiss the
claims against Iran nor to grant a default judgment, but
rather to stay the case until that appeal-which raised legal
questions relevant to the disposition of this case-was
resolved. See Apr. 27, 2016 Order [ECF No. 32] at
1-2. The D.C. Circuit issued its opinion in the
Owens appeal in July 2017. See Owens v. Republic
of Sudan, 864 F.3d 751 (D.C. Cir. 2017). The Court
ultimately un-stayed this case and denied plaintiffs'
motion for a default judgment against the Iranian defendants.
See Mar. 30, 2018 Order [ECF No. 33]; Mar. 30, 2018
Mem. Op. at 14. Plaintiffs then timely filed the instant
motion to alter the judgment or relieve them from judgment
under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 59(e) and 60(b).
See Mot. to Alter J. [ECF No. 38]; Statement of P.
& A. in Supp. of Pls.' Mot. (“P. &
A.”) [ECF No. 38-1].
59(e) allows a party to file “[a] motion to alter or
amend a judgment . . . no later than 28 days after the entry
of the judgment.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e). This rule
“may not be used to relitigate old matters, or to raise
arguments or present evidence that could have been raised
prior to the entry of judgment.” Exxon Shipping Co.
v. Baker, 554 U.S. 471, 486 n.5 (2008) (citation
omitted). Therefore, Rule 59(e) motions may be granted
“under three circumstances only: (1) if there is an
‘intervening change of controlling law'; (2) if new
evidence becomes available; or (3) if the judgment should be
amended in order to ‘correct a clear error or prevent
manifest injustice.'” Leidos, Inc. v. Hellenic
Republic, 881 F.3d 213, 217 (D.C. Cir. 2018) (citation
omitted). “Although the court has considerable
discretion in ruling on a Rule 59(e) motion, the
reconsideration or amendment of a judgment is nonetheless an
extraordinary measure.” Id.
Rule 60(b), “the court may relieve a party or its legal
representative from a final judgment, order, or
proceeding” for several reasons, among them
“mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable
neglect.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)-(b)(1). The rule
“was intended to preserve the delicate balance between
the sanctity of final judgments and the incessant command of
the court's conscience that justice be done in light of
all the facts. It cannot be employed simply to rescue a
litigant from strategic choices that later turn out to be
improvident.” Smalls v. United States, 471
F.3d 186, 191 (D.C. Cir. 2006) (citation and alterations
omitted). Therefore, like Rule 59(e), Rule 60(b) “does
not afford [a litigant] an opportunity to retry her
case.” Greer v. Paulson, 505 F.3d 1306, 1317
(D.C. Cir. 2007). In particular, “relief for excusable
neglect ‘is rare' as ‘such motions allow
district courts to correct only limited types of substantive
errors.'” Owens v. Republic of Sudan, 864
F.3d at 818 (citation omitted). As under Rule 59(e), motions
under Rule 60(b) are committed to the broad discretion of the
Court. See id.
the moving part[ies], [plaintiffs have] the burden of
demonstrating that relief under either of these Rules is
warranted.” Kittner v. Gates, 783 F.Supp.2d
170, 172 (D.D.C. 2011).
the cases considered in the consolidated Owens
action were Wamai v. Republic of Sudan and Opati
v. Republic of Sudan. In their reconsideration motion,
plaintiffs claim that they “actively tried to be
involved in the timely Wamai and Opati
cases involving fellow family members, believed they were
covered by the timely Wamai and Opati
cases, and diligently sought assistance of counsel when they
learned they were not included.” P. & A. at 5.
Plaintiffs therefore ask the Court either to alter the
judgment under Rule 59(e) or to vacate the judgment under
Rule 60(b). The Court examines these requests in turn.
Alteration Under Rule 59(e)
first contend that the Court should alter its judgment under
Rule 59(e) because “a manifest injustice would result
if the Court's sua sponte raising of the statute of
limitations stands.” Id. The Court should not
invoke the statute of limitations, plaintiffs assert, since
they filed their suit late only because they mistakenly
believed they had been involved in earlier, timely actions,
and they did not realize their error until a list of
successful claimants from those suits was published in 2014.
See id. However, “Rule 59(e) motions are aimed
at reconsideration, not initial consideration.” GSS
Grp., Ltd. v. Nat'l Port Auth., 680 F.3d 805, 812
(D.C. Cir. 2012) (citation omitted). “Accordingly, a
‘Rule 59(e) motion may not be used to . . . raise
arguments or present evidence that could have been raised
prior to the entry of judgment.'” Id.
plaintiffs themselves acknowledge, the facts they now raise
to support their motion “were not before the Court when
the Court rendered its decision.” P. & A. at 4.
Plaintiffs do not give any reason why they could not have
provided the Court with this information earlier. Indeed, the
Court invited just such an argument as plaintiffs now make
when it gave them the “opportunity” to
“review the Court's analysis” on the statute
of limitations in its March 2016 opinion “and to raise
any argument” as to why the claims against Iran should
not be dismissed. Mar. 24, 2016 Mem. Op. at 15. In response,
plaintiffs raised four arguments for maintaining its claims
against Iran: (1) that it would be an abuse of discretion to
invoke the statute of limitations when Iran has deliberately
not raised the issue; (2) that it is not “readily
apparent” that plaintiffs' claims are untimely,
because their case may have been filed within sixty days of a
timely related action; (3) that the equities weigh against
raising timeliness on Iran's behalf; and (4) that the
FSIA does not require dismissal of plaintiffs' claims.
See Pls.' Supp. Br. at 2-6. ...