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Robinson v. United States

July 31, 2009

GARY ROBINSON, PLAINTIFF
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Rambo

MEMORANDUM

Before the court is Plaintiff Gary Robinson's ("Robinson") motion for reconsideration pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) challenging the court's order of March 2, 2009 that granted the Defendants' motion to dismiss his Bivens*fn1 -styled complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. (Doc. 40.) For the reasons that follow, Robinson's motion will be granted.

I. Background

Robinson, an inmate currently confined at the United States Penitentiary in Tucson, Arizona ("USP-Tucson"), filed a Bivens-styled complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 on May 14, 2008, naming as Defendants the United States of America and several Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") officials. (Doc. 1.) In his complaint Robinson generally contended that while he was incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary in Allenwood, Pennsylvania ("USP-Allenwood"), Defendants were deliberately indifferent and negligent with respect to his medical needs, interfered with the proper issuance of prescribed medication, and delayed his access to a dermatologist.

By order dated June 19, 2008, the court directed service of the complaint on Defendants. (Doc. 8.) Defendants filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment, on November 3, 2008, (Doc. 27), and a supporting brief on November 18, 2008, (Doc. 32). Pursuant to M.D. Pa. Local Rule 7.6, Robinson had fifteen (15) days from the service of Defendants' brief to file a brief in opposition to the motion.

On December 8, 2008, the court received a letter from Robinson which it construed as a motion for an extension of time in which to file a brief in opposition to Defendants' motion to dismiss. (Doc. 34.) The court granted Robinson's motion and directed him to file a brief in opposition on or before January 8, 2009. (Doc. 35.) That deadline passed, yet Robinson failed to file any opposition to the motion to dismiss or to request an extension of time in which to do so. Thus, by order dated January 30, 2009, the court directed Robinson to file a brief in opposition to Defendants' pending motion to dismiss, within fifteen (15) days of the date of the order. (Doc. 37.) The order forewarned Robinson that if he failed to file a brief within the required time, Defendants' motion to dismiss would be deemed unopposed and granted without a merits analysis. See M.D. Pa. Local Rule 7.6; Stackhouse v. Mazurkiewicz, 951 F.2d 29, 30 (3d Cir. 1991). (Doc. 37.)

Robinson failed to file any opposition or request another extension of time in which to do so within the time period required by the court. Consequently, the court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss without a merits analysis on March 2, 2009, and directed the Clerk of Court to close the case. (Doc. 38.)

Robinson has filed the instant motion for reconsideration of the order granting the motion to dismiss, requesting that the court reopen the case. (Doc. 40.) He seeks relief from judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b). After careful review, the court will grant the motion.

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). "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).

A party bringing a motion to reconsider under Rule 60 bears a heavy burden. Bohus v. Beloff, 950 F.2d 919, 930 (3d Cir. 1991) ("We view Rule 60(b) motions as extraordinary relief which should be granted only where extraordinary justifying circumstances are present") (quotations omitted). Rule 60(b) provides as follows:

(b) Grounds for Relief from a Final Judgment, Order, or Proceeding. On motion and just terms, the court may relieve a party or its legal representative from a final judgment, ...


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