United States District Court, District of Columbia
KATRINA L. WEBSTER, Plaintiff,
RICHARD V. SPENCER, Secretary, U.S. Department of the Navy, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
L. FRIEDRICH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
27, 2018, the Court dismissed all counts against defendants
Kevin Keefe, James Lee, and Jack Rickert in their individual
capacities. Mem. Op. & Order at 1-2, 10, Dkt. 19. Only
the claims against Secretary Richard Spencer remain.
Id. The plaintiff, Katrina Webster, filed an
objection to the Court's decision, Pl.'s Objection,
Dkt. 20, and requested the recusal of the undersigned,
Pl.'s Objection at 5-6. The Court construes Webster's
filing as a Motion for Reconsideration and a Motion to
Disqualify. For the reasons that follow, the Court will deny
Court previously held that Webster failed to state a claim
under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983, the
Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and
Bivens. Mem. Op. & Order at 4-10. The Court
dismissed Webster's statutory claims as to Keefe, Lee,
and Rickert because they were not proper defendants under the
relevant statutes. Id. at 4-7. And it dismissed her
Bivens claims because she did not adequately allege
a constitutional violation. Id. at 8. The Court also
noted that, even if Webster had alleged a violation of her
constitutional rights, it was not clear that a
Bivens cause of action would be available.
Id. at 8-9.
requests reconsideration for four reasons. First, she argues
that the Court made a factually inaccurate statement.
Pl.'s Objection at 1-4. Second, she argues that the Court
failed to liberally construe her ADEA claims. Id. at
4-5. Third, she argues that the discrimination she
experienced resulted from “the collusion of Keefe, Lee,
and Rickert.” Id. at 5. Finally, she argues
that her suit may proceed against the dismissed defendants
under 18 U.S.C. § 242. Pl.'s Reply at 3, Dkt. 24.
addition, Webster requests recusal because “a white
Judge replac[ed] a black Judge in a case where the Defendants
are all white, ” because of purported mistakes in the
Court's prior ruling, and because another judge has more
“familiarity” with her case and a related case
filed by her husband. Pl.'s Objection at 5.
Court considers each of Webster's arguments in turn.
Motion for Reconsideration
Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b) “allows a litigant to
move for reconsideration or modification of a district
court's interlocutory order disposing of ‘fewer
than all the claims or the rights and liabilities of fewer
than all the parties' ‘at any time' before the
court's entry of final judgment.” Cobell v.
Jewell, 802 F.3d 12, 19 (D.C. Cir. 2015) (quoting
Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b)). In particular, a district court has
discretion “to set aside a judgment whose enforcement
would work inequity.” Plaut v. Spendthrift Farm,
Inc., 514 U.S. 211, 234 (1995). Courts will reconsider
an opinion when they have “patently misunderstood a
party[, ] . . . [when they have] made an error not of
reasoning but of apprehension, or where a controlling or
significant change in the law or facts [has occurred] since
the submission of the issue to the Court.” Scahill
v. District of Columbia, 286 F.Supp.3d 12, 17-18 (D.D.C.
2017) (internal quotation marks omitted) (alterations in
original). “[I]n order to promote finality and protect
[courts'] judicial resources, [courts are] loath to
revisit [their] prior decision[s] absent extraordinary
circumstances such as where the initial decision was clearly
erroneous and would work a manifest injustice.”
Hall & Assocs. v. EPA, 210 F.Supp.3d 13, 18
(D.D.C. 2016) (citation omitted). “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.
Motion to Disqualify
statutory provisions govern disqualification. First, 28
U.S.C. § 455(a) requires a federal judge to
“disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his
impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 455(a). “The standard for disqualification under
[Section] 455(a) is an objective one. The question is whether
a reasonable and informed observer would question the
judge's impartiality.” United States v.
Microsoft Corp., 253 F.3d 34, 114 (D.C. Cir. 2001). The
party seeking disqualification must show either that a judge
relied on an extrajudicial source or that there was
“deep-seated favoritism or antagonism that would make
fair judgment impossible.” Liteky v. United
States, 510 U.S. 540, 554-55 (1994).
28 U.S.C. § 455(b)(1) requires recusal where the judge
“has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party,
or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts
concerning the proceeding.” 28 U.S.C. § 455(b)(1).
“To compel recusal under Section 455(b), the movant
must demonstrate that the judge has ‘actual
bias or prejudice based upon an extrajudicial
source.'” Jordan v. U.S. Dep't of
Justice, 315 F.Supp.3d 584, 591 (D.D.C. 2018) (quoting
Tripp v. Exec. Office of the President, 104
F.Supp.2d 30, 34 (D.D.C. 2000)).