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Jones v. U.S. Department of Justice

United States District Court, District of Columbia

May 25, 2018

DARIN JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ROSEMARY M. COLLYER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Darin Jones' pro se Motion to Reopen Based on Change in Law, or in the Alternative, Based on Oversight, which, for reasons explained below, the Court construes as a Motion for Reconsideration Under Rule 60(a), or in the Alternative, Under Rule 60(b) (“Mot. for Reconsideration”) [Dkt. 38]. This Court ordered the Government to respond to Mr. Jones' Motion by December 6, 2017. Apparently disinclined to do so, the Government did not file a response. Undeterred, Mr. Jones filed a Reply to Defendants Failure to Respond to Judge Collyer's 11/8/2017 Minute Order on December 20, 2017 (Def.'s Reply), which the Court will construe as a reply in support of Mr. Jones' Motion for Reconsideration. For the reasons below, Mr. Jones' motion will be denied.

         I. FACTS

         On January 4, 2013, Mr. Jones filed a Complaint against the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), alleging retaliation and discrimination on the basis of gender and age in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e) et seq. After intervening events examined in the Court's prior Opinion, the Court dismissed the suit without prejudice on July 1, 2015 because Mr. Jones had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies with respect to any of his claims and provided no basis to excuse that failure. See Memorandum Opinion [Dkt. 33]. A full recapitulation of the facts is not necessary, as they are laid out in this Court's prior Opinion. See id.

         In the instant motion, Mr. Jones asks this Court to consider four cases in revisiting its dismissal of his case without prejudice, vacate the dismissal, and “issue an opinion distinguishing the conflicts between the controlling precedents and the July 1 decision, and remand for further proceedings.” Mot. for Reconsideration at 4.[1] Mr. Jones followed his motion with a reply. As the government submitted no response to the motion, this Court considers only the arguments made in Mr. Jones' motion and reply. For the reasons explained below, the motion will be denied.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Mr. Jones filed a Motion to Reopen Based on Change in Law, or in the Alternative, Based on Oversight, which is terminology unknown to this Court. Based on the relief requested, the Court finds that Mr. Jones' motion should be construed as a Motion for Reconsideration under Rule 60(b)(6).

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not specifically address motions for reconsideration. See Estate of Klieman v. Palestinian Auth., 82 F.Supp.3d 237, 241-42 (D.D.C. 2015). However, the Rules provide three pathways for those seeking reconsideration of judicial decisions. Rule 54(b) permits reconsideration of interlocutory judgments. Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b). Rule 59(e) permits a party to seek reconsideration of a final judgment within 28 days of that judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e). Rule 60 permits a party to seek reconsideration of a final judgment either (a) to correct a mistake arising from an oversight or omission or (b) to seek relief from a judgment or order due to: (1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect; (2) newly discovered evidence; (3) fraud, misrepresentation, or other misconduct; (4) void judgment; (5) satisfied, released, or discharged judgment; or (6) “any other reason justifying relief from the operation of the judgment.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(a), (b); see also Gates v. Syrian Arab Republic, 646 F.Supp.2d 79, 83 (D.D.C. 2009). Rule 60(b) requires that a motion alleging excusable neglect, newly discovered evidence, or fraud be filed within one year of the judgment, while motions under other grounds must be filed “within a reasonable time.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b).

         “The granting of a Rule 60(b) motion 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.'” Mitchell v. Samuels, 255 F.Supp.3d 212, 214 (D.D.C. 2017) (quoting Firestone v. Firestone, 76 F.3d 1205, 1208 (D.C. Cir. 1996)). More specifically, the granting of motions under Rule 60(b)(6) should be limited to “extraordinary circumstances.” See Gonzalez v. Crosby, 545 U.S. 524, 535 (2005) (“[O]ur cases have required a movant seeking relief under Rule 60(b)(6) to show ‘extraordinary circumstances' justifying the reopening of a final judgment.”). The D.C. Circuit has echoed that sentiment in observing that Rule 60(b)(6) motions “should be only sparingly used, ” Good Luck Nursing Home, Inc. v. Harris, 636 F.2d 572, 577 (D.C. Cir.1980), and are not an opportunity for unsuccessful parties to “take a mulligan.” Kramer v. Gates, 481 F.3d 788, 792 (D.C. Cir. 2007).

         III. ANALYSIS

         Mr. Jones moves this Court to reconsider its order granting Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative for Summary Judgment. See 7/1/15 Order [Dkt. 34]. Because that order adjudicated all of Mr. Jones' claims in this case, he is foreclosed from relief under Rule 54(b), which permits reconsideration and revision of orders or decisions adjudicating fewer than all the claims at issue in a case. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b). Having filed his motion for reconsideration more than 28 days after the entry of the dismissal order, the relief Mr. Jones seeks is also prohibited by Rule 59(e) and must be considered solely under Rule 60. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e), 60. See McMillian v. District of Columbia, 233 F.R.D. 179, 180 n. 1 (D.D.C.2005) (holding that motions to reconsider filed within ten days of judgment are reviewed under Rule 59(e) and those filed after ten days are treated under Rule 60(b)).[2]

         Mr. Jones does not assert in his motion or reply that a mistake, excusable neglect, newly discovered evidence, or fraud are at issue here. Nor does he argue that this Court's judgment is void, has been satisfied, released, discharged, or was based on an earlier judgment that was reversed or vacated. Instead, Mr. Jones bases his motion on “change in law” or “oversight.” Mr. Jones does not move under an established rule, but his motion suggests arguments similar to those often raised under Rule 60(b)(6), which permits reconsideration for “other” reasons. The Court therefore will assess his motion for reconsideration under that Rule, in keeping with the well-recognized principle that pro se litigants are “allowed more latitude than litigants represented by counsel, ” which includes applying less stringent standards to pro se pleadings than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Moore v. Agency for Intern. Development, 999 F.2d 874, 876 (D.C. Cir. 1993) (citing Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972)).[3]

         A. Change in Controlling Law

         Mr. Jones argues that the four cases cited in his motion and accompanying reply necessitate reconsideration of this Court's prior dismissal of the case without prejudice. The Court interprets this as an argument for reconsideration under Rule 60(b)(6) based on a change in controlling law. See Firestone, ...


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