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Dreyer v. Sheaffer

April 2, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caputo


Presently before the Court is Defendant Jerry Cesare's Motion for Reconsideration (Doc. 12) of this Court's January 29, 2009 Memorandum and Order denying his motion to dismiss Plaintiff Eric D. Dreyer's amended complaint (Doc. 11). For the reasons stated below, the Court will deny Cesare's motion.


The facts alleged in Plaintiff's amended complaint relevant to Defendant Cesare's motion are as follows. On June 16, 2003, Plaintiff was arrested in Patterson, New Jersey for purchasing heroine. He pled guilty and was sentenced to three (3) years probation by a New Jersey state court. (Am. Compl. ¶ 11, Doc. 3.) Because Plaintiff resided in Pennsylvania at the time of his arrest, his probation was transferred to the supervision of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole in Lackawanna County. (Id. ¶ 12.) At the time, his probation supervisor was informed that, due to a medical condition, Plaintiff was prescribed medications containing opiates which were permitted under special conditions of his probation. (Id. ¶¶ 13-14.) On January 9, 2006, Plaintiff was arrested for a probation violation for which he received three (3) additional years probation but no incarceration. (Id. ¶¶ 16-17.)

Plaintiff alleges a sequence of harassing conduct towards him between January and June 2006 by several Pennsylvania probation officers, culminating in defendant probation officer Douglas Sheaffer's making a false determination that Plaintiff violated the conditions of his probation by possessing alcohol.*fn1 (Id. ¶¶ 19-26.) Based on this determination, Sheaffer placed Plaintiff in the "MINSEC Program,"*fn2 run on behalf of the Lackawanna County Probation Department. (Id. ¶ 26.)

While in the MINSEC program, Plaintiff advised defendant Jerry Cesare, a MINSEC counselor, of his medical condition and prescriptions containing opiates. Cesare advised him that the nurse who handled prescriptions was on vacation and to continue taking his medications, but not to bring to them to the MINSEC location until the nurse returned, for fear that other probationers would steal them. (Id. ¶ 28.)

On June 15, 2006, Sheaffer falsely alleged that Plaintiff had informed him and the MINSEC program that he was no longer prescribed medication containing opiates but nonetheless submitted a urine sample which tested positive for opiates. (Id. ¶ 32.) Based on this, Sheaffer falsely alleged that Plaintiff violated the conditions of his probation. (Id. ¶ 31.) He made the allegation knowing that the only opiates in Plaintiff's urine were taken lawfully according to his prescription. (Id. ¶ 35.) On June 22, 2006, Sheaffer falsely charged that Plaintiff had violated MINSEC rules by possessing drugs and/or alcohol. (Id. ¶ 36.) Plaintiff asserts that Scheaffer based his allegations on false information received from Cesare. (Id. ¶ 40.)

Sheaffer and another defendant probation officer used the above false allegations to have Plaintiff arrested for probation violations. (Id. ¶¶ 37-39.) As a result, Plaintiff was incarcerated for one hundred and thirteen (113) days. (Id. ¶ 41.) When he ultimately received a probation violation hearing, the Superior Court of New Jersey found that Plaintiff did not violate his probation as alleged and terminated his remaining probation. (Id. ¶ 44.)

On June 12, 2008, Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging several claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants Douglas Sheaffer, Chris Taylor, Michael Novak, Donald Welch, and Does 1 through 5. (Doc. 1.) On July 7, 2008, before any party submitted a responsive pleading or motion, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint adding Jerry Cesare as a Defendant. (Doc. 3.) Defendant Cesare filed a motion to dismiss on October 21, 2008. (Doc. 7.) Plaintiff filed a brief in opposition to the motion and Cesare submitted a brief in reply. (Docs. 8, 10.) On January 29, 2009 this Court issued a Memorandum and Order denying the motion to dismiss. (Doc. 11.) Defendant Cesare subsequently filed the present motion asking the court to reconsider its January 29 denial of his motion to dismiss. (Doc. 12.) This motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition. (Docs. 13, 16, 19.)


A motion for reconsideration is governed by Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which allows a party to move to alter or amend a judgment within ten days of entry. FED. R. CIV. P. 59(e). The purpose of a motion for reconsideration 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). A judgment may be altered or amended if the party seeking reconsideration establishes at least one of the following grounds: "(1) an intervening change in controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence that was not available when the court granted the motion for summary judgment; or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice." Max's Seafood Café, by Lou-Ann, Inc., v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999). "A motion for reconsideration is not to be used as a means to reargue matters already argued and disposed of or as an attempt to relitigate a point of disagreement between the Court and the litigant." Ogden v. Keystone Residence, 226 F. Supp. 2d 588, 606 (M.D. Pa. 2002) (McClure, J.). "[R]econsideration motions may not be used to raise new arguments or present evidence that could have been raised prior to the entry of judgment." Hill v. Tammac Corp., Civ. A. No. 05-1148, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18531, at *7 (M.D. Pa. Mar. 3, 2006) (Kane, J.). Lastly, the reconsideration of a judgment is an extraordinary remedy, and such motions should be granted sparingly. D'Angio v. Borough of Nescopeck, 56 F. Supp. 2d 502, 504 (M.D. Pa. 1999).


Cesare argues that reconsideration should be granted to prevent a clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice. He argues that the Court incorrectly concluded he waived his argument that Plaintiff's claims against him are barred by the applicable statute of limitations by raising it for the first time in a reply brief. In its January 29 Memorandum, the Court ruled:

Cesare argues in his reply brief that Plaintiff's claims against him should be dismissed as barred by the statute of limitations because Plaintiff is not entitled to application of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c), articulating the circumstances under which an amendment of a pleading relates back to the date of the original pleading ... As it was ...

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