United States District Court, District of Columbia
N. McFADDEN, U.S.D.J.
2001, Plaintiffs Fielding McGehee and Rebecca Moore sued the
Department of Justice, under the Freedom of Information Act
(“FOIA”), seeking documents from the Federal
Bureau of Investigation about the infamous Jonestown
latest chapter of this decades-old litigation, the Court
granted the Department's unopposed Motion for Summary
Judgment. Before the Court now is the Plaintiffs' Motion
for Reconsideration. Because the Plaintiffs have not shown
that they are entitled to relief, the Court will deny their
Plaintiffs submitted a FOIA request to FBI Headquarters,
requesting information about the victims and investigations
of the Jonestown Massacre in Jonestown, Guyana. See
McGehee v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, 800 F.Supp.2d 220,
226 (D.D.C. 2011). They eventually sued the FBI's parent
agency, the Department of Justice, alleging that the
production that they received was inadequate. Id.
The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment, which
were granted in part and denied in part. Id.
the FBI discovered and then released more material to the
Plaintiffs. Seventeenth Hardy Decl. (“Hardy
Decl.”) ¶ 15, ECF No. 256-3. The Court ordered the
Plaintiffs to “submit a final comprehensive list of
document requests” to the FBI. 5/19/14 Order, ECF No.
191. The FBI conducted additional searches and released more
material including photographs, audio tapes, and video tapes.
Hardy Decl. ¶ 23.
the Plaintiffs moved for partial summary judgment, and the
Department moved for summary judgment, the Court denied the
Plaintiffs' Motion and granted the Department's
Motion. McGehee v. U.S. Dep't of Justice
(“McGehee II”), 362 F.Supp.3d 14, 22
(D.D.C. 2019). The Plaintiffs have now moved for
reconsideration of that Order. See Pls.' Mem. of
Points and Authorities (“Pls.' Mem.”), ECF
No. 268. The Department opposes. See Def.'s
Opp., ECF No. 270.
generally treat a motion for reconsideration as originating
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) if a party files
it within 28 days of the entry of the order at issue.
Owen- Williams v. BB&T Inv. Servs.,
Inc., 797 F.Supp.2d 118, 121-22 (D.D.C. 2011). The
Plaintiffs filed their motion on April 1, 2019, precisely 28
days after the Court's March 4, 2019 Order. See
Pls.' Mem. So they are entitled to consideration under
Rule 59(e). Arabaitzis v. Unum Life Ins. Co. of
Am., 351 F.Supp.3d 11, 14 (D.D.C. 2018).
59(e) is not a vehicle to present a new legal theory that was
available prior to judgment, ” Patton Boggs LLP v.
Chevron Corp., 683 F.3d 397, 403 (D.C. Cir. 2012), or
“a chance for [a party] to correct poor strategic
choices.” SEC v. Bilzerian, 729 F.Supp.2d 9,
15 (D.D.C. 2010).
59(e) permits a court to alter or amend a judgment, but it
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.” Leidos v. Hellenic
Republic, 881 F.3d 213, 217 (D.C. Cir. 2018) (quoting
Exxon Shipping v. Baker, 554 U.S. 471, 486 n.5
(2008)). Courts may grant a Rule 59(e) motion 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.” Id. (cleaned up).
“And the moving party has the burden of proving that
relief under Rule 59(e) is warranted.”
Arabaitzis, 351 F.Supp.3d at 14.
Plaintiffs have failed to satisfy Rule 59(e)'s standard.
First, they allege no change in law or new evidence. See
generally Pls.' Mem. In fact, the Plaintiffs admit
that “the situation has not changed since [their]
previous listings of documents . . . .” See
Pls.' Reply at 3, ECF No. 271. And the Plaintiffs do not
allege that reconsideration is necessary to prevent manifest
injustice. See generally Pls.' Mem.
alleging a “clear error, ” the Plaintiffs claim
that the Court “uncritically adopted the FBI's
representations” in its briefing and relevant
declarations. Id. at 5. They complain that
“this court and others continue to accept Mr.
Hardy's representations” even though, allegedly, he
has little credibility. Id. But they offer no
caselaw or record citations to support a claim that this
Court should-or even could-disregard the sworn ...