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Brooks v. Smith

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


December 20, 2007

LOVE ALTONIO BROOKS PLAINTIFF
v.
JOSEPH V. SMITH, TROY LEVI, R. HOEKMAN, K. GABRIELSON, M. RIOS, J. RODGERS DEFENDANTS

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Vanaskie

ORDER

THE BACKGROUND OF THIS ORDER IS AS FOLLOWS:

On July 18, 2007, this Court conducted a non-jury trial regarding Plaintiff Love Altonio Brooks' claims that officers and employees at the United States Penitentiary at Lewisburg ("USP-Lewisburg") retaliated against him for exercising First Amendment rights. Mr. Brooks asserted several claims, but only two survived for trial: (1) Defendant Jeffrey Rodgers ("Officer Rodgers") allegedly placed a cardboard sign in Mr. Brooks' prison cell window labeling him a "snitch" in retaliation for previously filing an administrative grievance against Officer Rodgers; and (2) Defendants Troy Levi ("A.W. Levi") and Kenneth Gabrielson ("Lt. Gabrielson") allegedly placed Mr. Brooks in the USP-Lewisburg Special Housing Unit in retaliation for filing a federal civil rights lawsuit and administrative grievances against USP-Lewisburg staff.

On November 6, 2007, this Court issued a Memorandum and Order setting forth its findings of fact and conclusions of law. (Dkt. Entry 84.) The Court found that Mr. Brooks failed to prove his retaliation claim against Officer Rodgers. The Court concluded, however, that Mr. Brooks had proven his retaliation claim against A.W. Levi and Lt. Gabrielson. The Court awarded Mr. Brooks nominal damages of $1, but denied his request for compensatory and punitive damages. Judgment was entered November 6, 2007. (Dkt. Entry 85.)

Before the Court is Mr. Brooks' "Coram Nobis Petition under rule 1651 of the F.R.C.P." (Dkt. Entry 92.) In his petition, docketed in this Court on December 4, 2007, Mr. Brooks complains that he was deprived due process at trial because he was without his personal legal documents annotated for use at trial, the unavailability of which he contends was caused by prison officials' failure to forward those documents in conjunction with his transfer to this district for trial. As a result, Mr. Brooks contends that he was ill-prepared for trial and unable to recall three incidents that he claims support an award of both compensatory and punitive damages. Mr. Brooks urges this Court to reconsider its ruling and award compensatory and punitive damages.

The Court will construe Mr. Books' "Coram Nobis Petition" as a Motion for Reconsideration under Local Rule of Court 7.10, and a Motion to Alter or Amend the Judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e). Local Rule of Court 7.10, in part, provides that "[a]ny motion for reconsideration . . . shall be filed within ten (10) days after the entry of the judgment . . . concerned." M.D. Pa. R. 7.10. Rule 59(e) contains a similar limitation: "A motion to alter or amend a judgment must be filed no later that 10 days after the entry of the judgment." Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e). Furthermore, the ten-day period to file a motion under Rule 59(e) may not be extended. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 6(b)(2).

Here, the judgment at issue was entered November 6, 2007. Motions for reconsideration and to alter or amend the judgment were due no later than November 20, 2007. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 6(a)(2). Mr. Brooks' motion, however, is dated and postmarked November 28, 2007, and was docketed in this Court December 4, 2007, both of which fall outside the tenday window. Therefore, Mr. Brooks' motion will be denied as untimely. See Mash v. Twp. of Haverford Dep't of Codes Enforcement, Civ. A. No. 06-4479, 2007 WL 2692333, at *2 (E.D. Pa. Sept. 11, 2007) (motion for reconsideration that is untimely may be denied on that basis alone).*fn1

ACCORDINGLY, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT Plaintiff's "Coram Nobis Petition under rule 1651 of the F.R.C.P." (Dkt. Entry 92) is DENIED.

Thomas I. Vanaskie United States District Judge


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