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Andre Jacobs v. Deborah Bayha

March 18, 2011

ANDRE JACOBS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DEBORAH BAYHA, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Conti

Magistrate Judge Bissoon

MEMORANDUM ORDER

Plaintiff Andre Jacobs ("plaintiff") filed this motion for reconsideration (ECF No. 81) of the order of this court (ECF No. 78) adopting the magistrate judge‟s report and recommendation dated March 8, 2010. (ECF No. 76).

Plaintiff‟s civil rights suit commenced with the receipt of a complaint by the Clerk of Court on February 23, 2007 (ECF No. 1). The matter was referred to a United States Magistrate Judge for pretrial proceedings in accordance with the Magistrate Judges Act, 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), and Rules 72.C and 72.D of the Local Rules for Magistrate Judges.

On July 15, 2009, defendants Bayha, Delano, Potter, Moorhead, and Holtz ("marshal defendants") filed a motion to dismiss, or, in the alternative, motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 59). The magistrate judge‟s report and recommendation, filed on March 8, 2010, recommended that summary judgment be granted in part and denied in part. First, the magistrate judge concluded that the doctrine of collateral estoppel and the Supreme Court‟s holding in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), barred plaintiff‟s excessive force claims against the above-named marshal defendants stemming from an incident that occurred during the afternoon of March 3, 2005. (ECF No. 76), at 6-11. The report also addressed plaintiff‟s allegations with respect to this incident on their merits, and found that, even if they were not procedurally barred, plaintiff had failed to establish liability under the Eighth Amendment for the events that took place during the incident. Id. at 11-13. The report further recommended that, given that plaintiff could not establish that his constitutional rights were violated during the altercation on the afternoon of March 3, 2005, defendants should be granted summary judgment on the failure to intervene, retaliation, and conspiracy claims based on that event, as well as all claims of battery brought against the marshal defendants under the Federal Torts Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2671, et seq. Id. at 13-17. Additionally, the magistrate judge recommended that marshal defendants be granted summary judgment on plaintiff‟s claims of retaliation and conspiracy with respect to defendants‟ alleged harassment of plaintiff and his witnesses during his civil trial in 2005. Finally, the magistrate judge recommended that summary judgment be denied with respect to the remaining claims against defendant Delano, which stemmed from his alleged assault of plaintiff on the morning of March 3, 2005.

On March 25, 2010, having received no objections from the parties involved, this court entered an order (ECF No. 78) adopting the report of March 8, 2010, and granting in part and denying in part summary judgment to the above-named marshal defendants in the manner recommended by the magistrate judge. On April 8, 2010, plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration of this court‟s order. (ECF No. 81). This filing is dated April 2, 2010, which is eight days after this court issued its order adopting the magistrate judge‟s report. Id. at 10.

A.Legal Standard

The applicable standard for adjudicating a motion for reconsideration is summarized as follows:

Motions for reconsideration under Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are granted sparingly "[b]ecause federal courts have a strong interest in finality of judgments." Continental Cas. Co. v. Diversified Indus., Inc., 884 F.Supp. 938, 943 (E.D.Pa. 1995). As the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has noted, the purpose of a motion for reconsideration is "to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence." Max's Seafood Cafe v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir.1999) (quotingHarsco Corp. v. Zlotnicki, 779 F.2d 906, 909 (3d Cir.1985)). "[J]udgment may be altered or amended if the party seeking reconsideration shows at least one of the following grounds: (1) an intervening change in the 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." Id., citing North River Ins. Co. v. CIGNA Reinsurance Co., 52 F.3d 1194, 1218 (3d Cir.1995).

Tom Brown Contracting, Inc. v. Westport Ins. Co., No. 04-1171, 2007 WL 966743, at *3 (W.D.Pa. Mar. 29, 2007). It must be noted, however, that "[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." Id. (citing Abu-Jamal v. Horn, No. CIV. A. 99-5089, 2001 WL 1609761, at *9 (E.D.Pa. December 18, 2001) (internal quotations omitted)).

Plaintiff‟s motion presents a complication. Plaintiff asserts that his failure to submit timely objections to the magistrate judge‟s report was due to his lack of receipt of a copy of said report in a timely manner. (ECF No. 81) at 1 n.1. Plaintiff submits evidence supporting this assertion. Ex. A. to Pl.‟s Mot. for Recons. (ECF 81-1). As such, this court will, out of an abundance of caution, apply a de novo standard of review. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

B.Facts

As the parties are doubtlessly aware, the Supreme Court in Heck held that a plaintiff cannot bring a civil action under § 1983 that would necessarily call into question the validity of a prior criminal conviction, unless that conviction had been reversed on appeal, expunged by executive order, or declared invalid in collateral proceedings. 512 U.S at 486-87 (1994). It logically follows from this doctrine that, even in cases where a plaintiff attempts to raise a claim that would not necessarily call into question the validity of a criminal conviction, that plaintiff still is barred from alleging facts that would do so. Indeed, the courts have addressed this very issue, and found that, pursuant to the Heck doctrine, factual allegations that are inconsistent with the validity of a conviction cannot be used to support a civil action. See, e.g., McCann v. Neilsen, 466 F.3d 619, 621-22 (7th Cir. 2006). As such, even if this court were to find, for the sake of argument, that Heck did not preclude plaintiff‟s claims against defendants, it would be impossible to divorce entirely the analysis of the factual allegations underlying plaintiff‟s Eighth Amendment claims from the holding in that case. With that in mind, the court will review the facts underlying plaintiff‟s claims arising from the incident of the afternoon of March 3, 2005.

On March 3, 2005, plaintiff was prosecuting a civil trial before the undersigned in a courtroom on the ninth floor of the United States Courthouse in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. On the afternoon of that day, the jury returned a verdict that was not favorable to plaintiff. After hearing the verdict, plaintiff was escorted from the courtroom by marshal defendants, as well as other defendants who are not the subject of this motion. While approaching an elevator, plaintiff became violent and noncompliant. An altercation ensued, which was continued on the elevator itself. Force was used by marshal defendants, and possibly others, to subdue plaintiff. Plaintiff was removed from the elevator and carried to a holding cell. There are no allegations by plaintiff that any force was used as he was being taken from the elevator or afterward.

For his part in this altercation, plaintiff was charged with violations of 18 U.S.C. ยง 111(a)(1) and (b), which prohibit assaulting, resisting, opposing, impeding, intimidating, or interfering with certain officers of employees of the ...


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