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Jane Doe v. Luzerne County

April 9, 2012

JANE DOE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LUZERNE COUNTY, RYAN FOY, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, AND BARRY STANKUS, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caputo

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court is the Motion for Leave of Court to File Supplemental Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 83) filed by Defendants Ryan Foy and Barry Stankus. Defendants seek leave of Court to file a supplemental summary judgment motion in order to argue that Defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law on the basis of qualified immunity. (Doc. 85.) Plaintiff, however, argues that Defendants' request should be denied as untimely and overdue. (Doc. 88.) Because Defendants' request to file a supplemental motion for summary judgment does not establish an "intervening change" in controlling law or set forth an expanded factual record for the Court to review in deciding Defendants' proposed supplemental filing, Defendants' motion for leave of Court will be denied.

I. Background

Plaintiff commenced this action on June 17, 2008 alleging Defendants Luzerne County and Ryan Foy violated her constitutional rights when she was videotaped without her knowledge or consent by Defendant Foy while using a decontamination shower at a medical facility. (Doc. 1.) On November 25, 2009, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint against Luzerne County, Foy, and Barry Stankus asserting claims for violation of Plaintiff's privacy rights and violation of Plaintiff's constitutional rights for failure to train. (Doc. 29.) Defendants subsequently filed a motion for summary judgment as to all of Plaintiff's claims, (Doc. 45), which the Court granted in its entirety. (Doc. 76.)

On appeal, however, the Third Circuit reversed the Court's dismissal of Plaintiff's violation of privacy claim under the Fourteenth Amendment. (Doc. 84, Ex. 1.) In a matter of first impression, the Third Circuit held that "one may have a constitutionally protected privacy interest in his or her partially clothed body." Doe v. Luzerne Cty., 660 F.3d 169, 176 (3d Cir. 2011). As material facts remained in dispute, however, regarding whether Plaintiff's exposure violated her reasonable expectations of privacy, the Third Circuit remanded the case for further proceedings. See id. at 177.

On remand, Defendants now seek leave of Court to file a supplemental summary judgment motion to argue that Defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law on the basis of qualified immunity. (Doc. 83.) This argument was not advanced by Defendants in their first summary judgment filing. (Doc. 45.) Nevertheless, Defendants argue that Plaintiff's privacy rights were not clearly established on the date of the incident, and, therefore, Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity. (Doc. 85; Doc. 89.) In opposition, Plaintiff contends that it would be unfair to allow Defendants to advance an argument in a successive summary judgment motion that could have been raised in the first filing. (Doc. 88.) Defendants' motion has been fully briefed and is now ripe for disposition.

II. Discussion

A. Applicable Legal Standards

Whether to allow a party to file a renewed or supplemental motion for summary judgment is a decision that lies within the discretion of the district court. See, e.g., Ingram v. S.C.I. Camp Hill, 448 Fed. Appx. 275, 278 (3d Cir. 2011); Gulezian v. Drexel Univ., No. 98-3004, 1999 WL 200675, at *2 (E.D. Pa. Apr. 8, 1999).

A renewed or successive summary judgment motion is appropriate especially if one of the following exists: (1) an intervening change in controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence or an expanded factual record; and (3) need to correct a clear error or prevent manifest injustice.

Whitford v. Boglino, 63 F.3d 527, 530 (7th Cir. 1995). Consideration of a successive summary judgment motion is particularly appropriate "when the defendant has expanded the factual record on which summary judgment is sought." Gulezian, 1999 WL 200675, at *2; Holloman v. Neily, No. 97-8067, 1998 WL 828413, at *1 (E.D. Pa. Nov. 25, 1998).

Because a denial of a motion for summary judgment is generally a non-final order, see In re Complaint of PMD Enter., Inc., 301 F.3d 147, 149 (3d Cir. 2002), a district court has the discretion to review renewed motions for summary judgment. Grayer v. Twp. of Edison, No. 02-2969, 2007 WL 2595530 (D. N.J. Sept. 5, 2007). But see infra n.1.

However, in considering successive or supplemental summary judgment motions, a district court must be cognizant of the "law of the case" doctrine. The "law of the case" doctrine directs courts to "refrain from re-deciding issues that were resolved earlier in the litigation." Pub. Interest Research Grp. of N.J. v. Magnesium Elektron, Inc., 123 F.3d 111, 116 (3d Cir. 1997). The "law of the case" developed to maintain consistency during the course of a single lawsuit and to promote finality and judicial economy. See id. Although a court may revisit the prior decisions of its own or of a coordinate court, the court should hesitate to do so in the absence of "extraordinary circumstances." See id. at 116 (quoting Christianson v. Colt Indus. Operating Corp., 486 U.S. 800, 816, 108 S. Ct. 2166, 100 L. Ed. 2d 811 (1988)). The Third Circuit has recognized various "extraordinary circumstances" warranting reconsideration of an issue decided earlier in the course of litigation, including:

(1) availability of new evidence; (2) announcement of a supervening law; and (3) necessity to correct an earlier decision that was clearly erroneous or would create manifest injustice. Pub. Interest Research Grp., 123 F.3d at 116-17 (citing Bridge v. United States Parole Comm'n, 981 F.2d 97, 103 (3d Cir. ...


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