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Banks v. Dove

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA


June 12, 2007

FREDERICK BANKS, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS
v.
DOVE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Conner

MEMORANDUM

Plaintiffs Frederick Banks and Darrell Jackson originally filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on August 8, 2006, in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, after being granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. At the time the complaint was filed, plaintiffs were incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary at Canaan ("USP-Canaan") in Waymart, Pennsylvania.*fn1 The thirty-four named defendants are all manufacturers of products allegedly purchased by plaintiffs from the prison commissary.*fn2 On November 14, 2006, the Central District Court issued an order transferring the case to this Court.

Presently pending before the court is plaintiff Banks' motion for reconsideration of the court's order dismissing the complaint, without prejudice, as legally frivolous. (Doc. 7.) For the reasons set forth below, the motion will be denied.

I. Background

The gravamen of plaintiffs' claims is that while they were incarcerated at USP-Canaan, they purchased various hygiene products and food products from the prison commissary. (Doc. 1, Part 3 at 2-3.) Plaintiffs allege that defendants caused damage to plaintiffs because the products did not list the "percentages of either the ingredients or inactive/active ingredients" on the packages; the pictures of products on the package covers did not accurately portray the products inside the packages; the products did not perform as claimed on the package covers; the products did not list expiration dates; and, the companies (namely defendant Sony) did not honor limited warranties. (Id.) Plaintiffs' claims alleged are false advertising/conversion (Count I) and breach of implied contract (Count II). (Doc. 1, Part 3 at 3.) The named defendants are all of the manufacturers of the products allegedly purchased by plaintiffs at the prison commissary. (Doc. 1, Part 3 at 1-2.)

By order dated January 16, 2007, the court dismissed plaintiffs' complaint, without prejudice, as legally frivolous pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i). (See Doc. 4.) Dismissal of the complaint was warranted because not only are none of the defendants state actors, but also because plaintiffs' characterization of defendants' packaging of the goods at issue does not rise to the level of a constitutional violation and, accordingly, is not cognizable in a section 1983 action. Consequently, plaintiff Banks filed the instant motion for reconsideration of the order dismissing the complaint, without prejudice, as legally frivolous. (Doc. 7.)

II. Discussion

A motion for reconsideration is a device of limited utility. Its purpose is 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). Accordingly, a party seeking reconsideration must demonstrate at least one of the following grounds prior to the court altering, or amending, a standing judgment: (1) an intervening change in the controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence that was not available when the court entered judgment; or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice.Max's Seafood Café v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999) (citing North River Ins. Co. v. CIGNA Reinsurance Co., 52 F.3d 1194, 1218 (3d Cir. 1995)). A motion for reconsideration is appropriate in instances where the court has "patently 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." 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). It may not be used as a means to reargue unsuccessful theories, or argue new facts or issues that were not presented to the court in the context of the matter previously decided. Drysdale v. Woerth, 153 F. Supp. 2d 678, 682 (E.D. Pa. 2001). "Because federal courts have a strong interest in the finality of judgments, motions for reconsideration should be granted sparingly." Continental Cas. Co. v. Diversified Indus., Inc., 884 F. Supp. 937, 943 (E.D. Pa. 1995).

In the instant motion, plaintiff claims that the complaint should not have been dismissed because the defendant corporations "clearly act under color of state law for purposes of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 because they are entities incorporated in a state under state law and therefore always act under 'color of state law.'" (Doc. 7 at 1.) In addition, plaintiff asserts that the complaint should have been construed as accusing the defendant corporations of violating equal protection under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

Applying the standard used when a party seeks reconsideration, the court concludes that plaintiff has not demonstrated any of the applicable grounds for reconsideration. Initially, the court finds no intervening change in controlling law and no error of law of fact.*fn3 Additionally, plaintiff's alternative arguments do not constitute new evidence that was not available when the court entered judgment. Thus, the court finds no basis to reconsider its finding that the defendant corporations are not state actors, and that plaintiff has not asserted claims that rise to the level of constitutional violations.*fn4

An appropriate order will issue.

ORDER

AND NOW, this 12th day of June, 2007, for the reasons set forth in the accompanying memorandum, it is hereby ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for reconsideration (Doc. 7) is DENIED.

CHRISTOPHER C. CONNER United States District Judge


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