Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

VEGA v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania


December 20, 2005.

JOSE VEGA, Plaintiff
v.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, ET AL., Defendants.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: WILLIAM CALDWELL, Senior District Judge

MEMORANDUM

I. Introduction.

On November 1, 2004, Vega filed a Complaint alleging that he was assaulted and denied medical care in retaliation for his attack on the prison's Associate Warden with a box cutter inside the prison's dining hall.*fn1 On November 4, 2005, we granted Defendants' motion for summary judgment and closed the case. (Doc. 64).

  Presently before the Court are Vega's motion to amend our findings of fact (doc. 60) and his motion for reconsideration (doc. 61) of our November 4, 2005, Order. For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's motions will be denied.

  II. Standard of Review.

  A motion to alter or amend is a device of limited utility. It may be used only to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence. Harsco Corp. v. Zlotnicki, 779 F.2d 906, 909 (3d Cir. 1985). The motion may also be appropriate in instances where the court has "misunderstood a party, or has made a decision outside the adversarial issues presented to the Court by the parties, or has made an error not of reasoning, but of apprehension." See Rohrbach v. AT&T Nassau Metals Corp., 902 F. Supp. 523, 527 (M.D. Pa. 1995), vacated in part on other grounds on reconsideration, 915 F. Supp. 712 (M.D. Pa. 1996) (quoting Above the Belt, Inc. v. Mel Bohannan Roofing, Inc., 99 F.R.D. 99, 101 (E.D. Va. 1983). However, a motion for reconsideration is not a means to rehash or reargue issues which have already been considered and disposed of by the Court. See Dodge v. Susquehanna Univ., 796 F. Supp. 829, 830 (M.D. Pa. 1992). Finally, "[b]ecause federal courts have a strong interest in the finality of judgments, motions for reconsideration should be granted sparingly." Continental Casualty Co. v. Diversified Indus., Inc., 884 F. Supp. 937, 943 (E.D. Pa. 1995). III. Discussion.

  Vega raises two issues in his motions: (1) clerical errors or omissions in the Court's recitation of the relevant facts surrounding his case; and (2) the unconstitutionality of the Prison Litigation Reform Act's ("PLRA") exhaustion requirement which supposedly penalizes inmates facing potential criminal charges based on the circumstances giving rise to their claim by discouraging them from pursuing their administrative remedies so that they do not jeopardize their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

  Vega's Motion to Amend Findings (doc. 60), takes issue with our recitation of the background facts in this matter. First, Vega claims the Court failed to take into account his ADX-Florence counselor's statement made in July 2004 in response to his efforts to initiate an administrative remedy regarding the March 2003 retaliatory assault. Vega refers the Court to Doc. 50, his Administrative Remedy Request No. 346152-F1, which he submitted as an exhibit in support of exhaustion of administrative remedies. He does not allege how the present consideration of this fact would alter our original findings that he failed to exhaust his available administrative remedies prior to initiating his Complaint. We point out that the Court was aware of the document referenced by Vega as well as its content when issuing our November 4, 2005, Order. The fact that Vega's ADX-Florence counselor, in July of 2004, advised him to submit a tort claim was noted in our recitation of background facts. See Doc. 55, Order, p. 7. As to our discussion of this document, the July 2004, statement submitted in response to Vega's untimely attempt to initiate his administrative remedies did not interfere with Vega's ability to timely exhaust his administrative remedies with respect to the alleged retaliatory March 2003 assault. This conclusion is underscored by Vega's recent suggestion that he intentionally elected not to report the alleged retaliatory assault under the prison's administrative remedy program during the pendency of his criminal proceedings so he would not incriminate himself in the assault against Associate Warden Sniezak. See Doc. 61-1, Motion for Reconsideration of District Court's Memorandum and Order dated November 4, 2005.

  Next, Vega seeks to correct the Court's recitation that "after the assault at approximately 11:45 a.m., Vega was escorted to the prison's health services department and examined by Dr. Bussianich." Vega claims the exam took place 12:45 p.m. This difference in time is immaterial to our decision in this case. Nonetheless, we note that the time reported in our Order was taken from a document submitted by Vega in connection with his Amended Complaint. See Doc. 21-3, Inmate Injury Assessment and Followup Report.

  We turn now to Vega's motion for reconsideration (doc. 61) calling into question the constitutionality of the Prison Litigation Reform Act's ("PLRA") exhaustion requirement based on its potential conflict with an inmate's Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Vega asserts that as a result of his contact with Warden Sniezak on March 13, 2004, internal prison disciplinary proceedings were instituted against him and he most likely faced new related criminal charges. As such he took the Fifth Amendment at his disciplinary hearing. (Id.) "Vega decided that it would be in his best interest to remain silent, but in doing so he was compelled to procedurally default on his allegations of his assault by prison staff in retaliation of him assaulting the prison's associate warden. In other words, Vega choosed (sic) to safeguard himself against self incrimination by invoking his 5th Amendment right rather than reporting the retaliatory assault under the prison's administrative remedy program." (Id.) This is the first time that Vega has raised this argument as a rationale as to why he did not timely exhaust his administrative remedies with regard to the retaliatory assault. A motion for reconsideration is not an opportunity to advance new theories or arguments. Nonetheless, we are not persuaded by this novel theory as Vega could have pursued a timely administrative remedy asserting defendants used excessive force against him when subduing him, and later as well (as alleged) in the Lieutenant's office, without admitting to assaulting Assistant Warden Sniezak.

  Therefore, as Vega has not presented the Court with any newly discovered facts, or error of law, he is not entitled to reconsideration of our order granting defendants' summary judgment motion.

  We will issue an appropriate order. ORDER

  AND NOW, this 20th day of December, 2005, for the reasons set forth in the accompanying memorandum, it is ordered that:

1. Vega's Motion to Amend Findings (doc. 60) is DENIED.
2. Vega's Motion for Reconsideration (doc. 61) is DENIED.
20051220

© 1992-2006 VersusLaw Inc.



Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.