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Moss v. Potter

June 14, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Arthur J. Schwab United States District Judge


I. Introduction

Before the Court is plaintiff's pro se Motion for Reconsideration and Motion to Amend Complaint (doc. no. 13) seeking reconsideration of this Court's order entered on May 24, 2007, which granted summary judgment for defendants. Plaintiff has filed said motion pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 52(b) and Rule 60(b). After careful consideration, and for the reasons that follow, this Court will deny plaintiff's motion for reconsideration and motion to amend the complaint.

II. Discussion

a. Rule 52(b)

Plaintiff seeks a modification of the Court's findings of facts and conclusion pursuant to Rule 52(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 52(b) provides that "on a party's motion filed no later than [ten] 10 days after entry of judgment, the court may amend its findings--or make additional findings--and may amend the judgment accordingly." Edwards v. Wyatt, 2007 WL 136687, at * 1 (E.D.Pa. 2007). The purpose of Rule 52(b) is to allow a court to correct manifest errors of law or fact, or in limited circumstances, to consider newly discovered evidence, but not to "relitigate old issues, to advance new theories, or to secure a rehearing on the merits." Gonzalez v. U.S., 2005 WL 3588478, at *2 (D.N.J. 2005). See also Blackiston v. Johnson, 1995 WL 563834, at *2 (E.D.Pa. 1995), aff'd mem., 91 F.3d 122 (3d Cir. 1996), cert. denied, 519 U.S. 953 (1996).

b. Rule 60(b)

Rule 60(b) allows a party to seek relief from a judgment, order, or proceeding for the following reasons: (1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect; (2) newly discovered evidence which by due diligence could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b); (3) fraud . . . , misrepresentation, or other misconduct of an adverse party; (4) the judgment is void; (5) the judgment has been satisfied, released, or discharged, or a prior judgment upon which it is based has been reversed or otherwise vacated, or it is no longer equitable that the judgment should have prospective application; or (6) any other reason justifying relief from the operation of the judgment. Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b). Relief from Judgment or Order. Mistakes, Inadvertence, Excusable Neglect, Newly Discovered Evidence, Fraud, Etc. The general purpose of Rule 60(b) is "to strike a proper balance between the conflicting principles that litigation must be brought to an end and that justice must be done." Boughner v. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, 572 F.2d 976, 977 (3d Cir. 1978). "The decision to grant or deny relief pursuant to Rule 60(b) lies in the 'sound discretion of the trial court guided by accepted legal principles applied in light of all the relevant circumstances.' " Ross v. Meagan, 638 F.2d 646, 648 (3d Cir. 1981). However, a "Rule 60(b) motion may not be used as a substitute for appeal, and that legal error, without more, cannot justify granting a Rule 60(b) motion." Smith v. Evans, 853 F.2d 155, 158 (3d Cir. 1988). Plaintiff argues for reconsideration on the grounds of mistake, newly discovered evidence, and fraud and misrepresentation. Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(1), (2), and (3) respectively.

(I). Mistake

Plaintiff states that the Court made a mistake in reviewing Plaintiff's Brief in Response to Motion to Dismiss or in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment (Response Brief) (doc. no. 10) and attached exhibits. Plaintiff argues that the Court overlooked Exhibit F of the Response Brief which he alleges to be a copy of a certified mail letter sent to him by the United States Postal Service (USPS). Response Brief, 2. He states that the letter included a paycheck that was fraudulently delivered to him. He characterizes the fraudulent delivery as constituting Mail Fraud, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 1341, and Bank Fraud but does not give any details as to the contents of the letter, the reason USPS sent him the check or the purpose of the check. Plaintiff merely makes a conclusory statement that the check was sent to him to intimidate and prevent him from applying for disability retirement. Motion for Reconsideration, 4.

Although plaintiff did include Exhibit F as part of his Response Brief, his description of Exhibit F is wrong. Plaintiff's Exhibit F is not a letter from USPS. Exhibit F is merely an envelope with information identifying plaintiff as the addressee. Yes, the envelope does bear the certified mail stamp but there is no indication that the envelope is in some way related to the alleged letter plaintiff describes and plaintiff has offered nothing in that regard. Moreover, plaintiff has not attached said letter or a copy of the check that is the purported to be the primary reason for the letter.*fn1 Plaintiff's assertion of mistake in the consideration of Exhibit F is unsubstantiated.

(ii). Newly Discovered Evidence

Plaintiff also claims to have obtained newly discovered evidence with which he would like to amend his complaint. The standard for newly discovered evidence dictates that the new evidence be "(1) material and not merely cumulative, (2) of the type that could not have been discovered before trial through the exercise of reasonable diligence and (3) of the type that would have changed the final judgment." Doman v. City of Philadelphia, 2000 WL 1428675, at *1 (E.D.Pa. 2000), quoting Compass Tech., Inc. v. Tseng Lab., Inc., 71 F.3d 1125, 1130 (3d Cir. 1995). "Newly discovered evidence [is] evidence of facts in existence at the time of trial of which the aggrieved party was excusably ignorant." Bohus v. Beloff, 950 F.2d 919, 920 (3d Cir. 1991).

The newly discovered evidence here, according to plaintiff, is another letter received from USPS on May 25, 2007 (the day after judgment was entered in favor of defendant), this time a notice for him to return to duty. Motion for Reconsideration, Exhibit E. The letter does not constitute newly ...

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