United States District Court, District of Columbia
D. BATES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is  defendant Jimmy Lewis's motion for
reconsideration. Although Lewis does not identify the
specific order that he moves the Court to reconsider, the
Court shall construe his motion as one to reconsider  the
Court's order granting summary judgment in favor of
Independent Settlement Services, LLC
(“Independent”) on its breach of contract claim
against Lewis. For the reasons explained below, the Court
will deny Lewis's motion.
full factual background of this action was recounted in the
Court's February 16, 2018 memorandum opinion and will not
be repeated here. See Mem. Op. [ECF No. 39]. In
relevant part, in 2007 Lewis refinanced property he owned in
the District of Columbia and obtained a $262, 500 loan. This
loan was secured by a promissory note (the
“Note”), in which he committed to repay the
principal loan amount and interest through monthly payments,
and by a deed of trust, which established a lien against his
property. See Note, Ex. 2 to Pl.'s Mot. for
Summ. J. [ECF No. 25-3]; Deed of Trust, Ex. 3 to Pl.'s
Mot. for Summ. J. [ECF No. 25-4]. The deed of trust was not
recorded in the District of Columbia land records.
See 1st Aff. of Jessica Thurbee, Ex. 4 to Pl.'s
Mot. for Summ. J. [ECF No. 25-5] ¶ 8.
in 2013, Lewis sold the property and ceased making payments
on the loan. Id. ¶ 10; 2nd Aff. of Jessica
Thurbee, Ex. 1 to Pl.'s Reply [ECF No. 28-1] ¶¶
4, 7-8. At the time, the loan had an outstanding balance of
$243, 785.36. 2nd Aff. of Jessica Thurbee ¶ 4. The
then-current holder of the Note filed an action against
Lewis, asserted a claim for breach of contract based on his
alleged failure to make required payments under the terms of
the Note, and moved for summary judgment. Am. Compl. [ECF No.
10] ¶¶ 46-51; Pl.'s Mot. for Summ. J. [ECF No.
25]. Thereafter, Independent acquired an interest in the
breach of contract claim and was substituted as plaintiff in
the action. See Feb. 16, 2018 Order [ECF No. 37] at
2-3. Lewis opposed summary judgment and subsequently filed an
amended opposition after this Court advised him of the
consequences of failing to respond adequately to
plaintiff's motion. See Def.'s Resp. in
Opp'n to Pl.'s Mot. for Summ. J. [ECF No. 29];
Fox/Neal Order [ECF No. 33]; Def.'s Am.
Opp'n to Pl.'s Mot. for Summ. J. [ECF No. 35].
February 16, 2018, the Court granted summary judgment in
favor of Independent on its breach of contract claim, finding
that Lewis had failed to present any evidence that would
create a genuine dispute of material fact. Mem. Op. [ECF No.
39] at 5-7. Accordingly, on February 26, 2018, the Court
entered final judgment against Lewis in the amount of $322,
432.06. Order and Final J. [ECF No. 42]. Lewis now moves for
reconsideration, asserting that Answer Title, the entity that
conducted the closing process when he sold his property, was
at fault for failing to identify the unrecorded lien and
prevent the sale of the property. See Def.'s Mot.
for Recons. ¶¶ 1-2.
Lewis does not state the Federal Civil Rule pursuant to which
he seeks reconsideration, there are two avenues by which a
party may seek such relief: Rule 59(e), which permits a party
to move to alter or amend a judgment, and Rule 60(b), which
permits a court to grant relief from a final judgment, order,
or proceeding. See Anyanwutaku v. Moore, 151 F.3d
1053, 1057 (D.C. Cir. 1998). A motion to alter or amend a
judgment under Rule 59(e) “must be filed no later than
28 days after the entry of judgment, ” Fed.R.Civ.P.
59(e), and it is not within the court's power to extend
this period, see Fed R. Civ. P. 6(b)(2) (“A
court must not extend the time to act under Rule . . . 59 .
. . (e).”).
contrast, a party may request relief from final judgment
pursuant to Rule 60(b) “within a reasonable time,
” which, when reconsideration is sought on certain
grounds, may not exceed “a year after the entry of the
judgment.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(c)(1). Rule 60(b) enumerates
six grounds for relief, including mistake or excusable
neglect, newly discovered evidence, fraud, or “any
other reason that justifies relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
reaching the merits of a Rule 60(b) motion, however, the
Court must consider a threshold issue: whether the movant has
“at least establish[ed] that [he] possesses a
potentially meritorious claim or defense” to the motion
upon which judgment was issued. Murray v. District of
Columbia, 52 F.3d 353, 355 (D.C. Cir. 1995) (citation
omitted) (explaining that relief from a judgment should not
be granted if it would “be an empty exercise or a
futile gesture”). The bar to satisfy this threshold
requirement is not high; the movant must provide only a
“‘hint of a suggestion' which, proven at
trial, would constitute a complete defense.” Marino
v. Drug Enforcement Admin., 685 F.3d 1076, 1080 (D.C.
Cir. 2012) (citation omitted). But when the new allegations
fail to contradict or even undermine the material facts in
the record on which the Court relied, relief from summary
judgment should not be granted. See Jeffries v.
Sessions, 323 F.R.D. 437, 443 (D.D.C. 2018).
brought this motion for reconsideration nearly two months
after final judgment was entered in this case. As Independent
correctly notes, the motion is therefore untimely under Rule
59(e). Nonetheless, because the motion was filed
within a “reasonable” time following the entry of
judgment, the Court will construe it as one seeking relief
from judgment under Rule 60(b). See Ali v. Carnegie Inst.
of Wash., 309 F.R.D. 77, 81 (D.D.C. 2015) (citing
Computer Prof'ls for Soc. Responsibility v. U.S.
Secret Serv., 72 F.3d 897, 903 (D.C. Cir. 1996)).
motion fails, however, because he has not provided even a
“hint of a suggestion” that he has a valid
defense to Independent's breach of contract claim.
Marino, 685 F.3d at 1080 (citation omitted). Nothing
he alleges contradicts the central findings of this
Court-that he entered into a valid contract under which he
received a loan that he promised he would repay in monthly
installments, and that he breached that agreement by failing
to repay the loan, resulting in damages to Independent.
See Mem. Op. at 5-6. The fact that the loan was also
secured by a lien on property and that this lien was
unrecorded and undiscovered prior to Lewis's sale of that
property does not excuse his failure to repay the loan he
signing the promissory note, Lewis became personally
obligated to repay the full loan amount, plus interest.
See Yasuna v. Miller, 399 A.2d 68, 72 (D.C. 1979)
(noting a promissory note is “evidence of the
mortgagor's primary personal obligation”).
“In return for a loan, ” Lewis “promise[d]
to pay U.S. $262, 500.00 . . . plus interest, to the order of
the Lender” in monthly installments. Note ¶¶
1-3. A lien against the property was established as an
“addition[al]” protection for the note holder
“from potential losses which might result if [Lewis
did] not keep the promises which [he made], ” but it
did not supplant Lewis's primary obligation to repay his
debt. See id. ¶ 10. When Lewis failed to make
the required payments, he defaulted on the loan and breached
the agreement. See 2nd Aff. of Jessica Thurbee
¶ 4; Note ¶ 6(B) (“If I do not pay the ...