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Douglas v. Jin

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

March 3, 2014

LAMAR NELSON DOUGLAS, Plaintiff,
v.
DR. BYUNGHAK JIN, Medical Director, SCI GREENE, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION

CYNTHIA REED EDDY, Magistrate Judge.

I. Introduction

A. Initial Ruling on Summary Judgment

On January 17, 2014, this Court heard oral argument on two motions for summary judgment: the Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 83) filed on behalf of defendant Dr. Byunghak Jin, the only remaining defendant; and Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment Against Defendant Jin (ECF No. 91). Having previously reviewed the copious documentary and testimonial evidence submitted by the parties in support and in opposition to summary judgment, including the record of Plaintiff's various pertinent grievances filed at SCI-Greene, and after considering the cogent, well-argued positions of the parties, this Court ruled from the bench on Dr. Jin's Motion for Summary Judgment following oral argument. See Minute Entry (ECF No. 111) and Notes of Testimony, January 17, 2014 (ECF No. ___), at 23-25. The Court took Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment under advisement, and subsequently denied it on January 27, 2014, in its Memorandum Opinion In Support Of Denial Of Motions For Summary Judgment (ECF No. 115).

The Court's Memorandum Opinion elaborated on the ruling from the bench. On the merits, the Court discussed its finding that Plaintiff had offered adequate record evidence upon which a reasonable jury could find that Dr. Jin acted with deliberate indifference when he failed to comply with Dr. Eller's explicit post-operative instructions in November 2009 to remove the silicone oil that had been placed in Plaintiff's right eye within three to six months.

As to Dr. Jin's argument that Plaintiff's claim of deliberate indifference in this regard was barred because he failed to exhaust that claim through DOC's administrative grievance procedures, the Court stated:

Defendant's secondary defenses need not long detain us. The argument that Plaintiff failed to properly exhaust his administrative remedies because his grievances were not specific enough to encompass the deliberate indifferent claims raised in this lawsuit is without merit. Plaintiff's Grievance #370255 filed on August 1, 2011, which was taken through all three DOC administrative steps, states that the "crux" of the grievance "is based on the delay and/or interference of medically needed eye treatment by... Medical Director Dr. Jin... [which shows that] my visual handicap and needed medical treatment are not being taken seriously..." with regard to treatment of his right eye in June and July of 2011, just prior to the UPMC surgery. Grievance # 370255, Plaintiff's Appendix, (ECF No. 100), Tab 12, at 88 of 128. Another grievance initially filed on July 26, 2011, continued to complain about the delay and denial of necessary treatment for his right eye and impaired vision. Grievance # 374642, Plaintiff's Supplemental Appendix, (ECF No. 107), Tab 12, at 102 of 132. The Court finds the pro se prisoner's detailed grievances complaining about delay and denial of treatment in his right eye adequate to have preserved the deliberate indifference claim which is now before this Court.

Memorandum Opinion In Support Of Denial Of Motions For Summary Judgment (ECF No. 115), at 13-14.

B. Motion for Reconsideration

Dr. Jin filed a Motion for Reconsideration and Brief in Support (ECF Nos. 116, 117) on January 28, 2014, vigorously challenging the Court's finding that Plaintiff's claim had been adequately raised and exhausted via the DOC's three step grievance procedures. Dr. Jin asserts that the two grievances the Court referenced above, i.e., Grievances No. 370255 and No. 374642 "dealt specifically with events that took place in June and July 2011... [not] events in 2009 and 2010, the time period at issue in this lawsuit and most importantly, neither grievance was exhausted prior to either the original or Amended Complaints being" filed. Brief in Support of Motion for Reconsideration (ECF No. 117), at 1. After careful review of the motion and brief in support, Plaintiff's brief in opposition, the exhibits in support and in opposition, which include the grievance records (that were also included in the summary judgment appendices), and the original briefs, the Court will deny Defendant's Motion for Reconsideration.

II. Standards for Reconsideration.

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) (quoting Harsco Corp. v. Zlotnicki, 779 F.2d 906, 909 (3d Cir. 1985)). The moving party bears a heavy burden to demonstrate that an order should be reconsidered, and the Court will only grant such a motion if the moving party shows: "(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)). Further, motions for reconsideration should not be entertained if they simply reargue or relitigate old matters or express disagreement with a Court's ruling. See E.E.O.C. v. U.S. Steel Corp., 2012 WL 1150799, at *6-7 (W.D. Pa. 2012). "A motion for reconsideration is not properly grounded on a request that the Court simply rethink a decision it has already made." Douris v. Schweiker, 229 F.Supp.2d 391, 408 (E.D.Pa. 2002) (citing Glendon Energy Co. v. Bor. of Glendon, 836 F.Supp. 1109, 1122 (E.D.Pa. 1993)).

To demonstrate clear error or manifest injustice, the Supreme Court mandates a "definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed." Easley v. Cromartie, 532 U.S. 234, 242 (2001) (citing United States v. U.S. Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. 364, 395 (1948)). Moreover, a defendant must "base its motion on arguments that were previously raised but were overlooked by the Court." United States v. Jasin, 292 F.Supp.2d 670, 676 (E.D.Pa. 2003). A motion for reconsideration "is not a proper vehicle to merely attempt to convince the court to rethink a decision it has already made[, ]" Colon v. Colonial Intermediate Unit 20, 443 F.Supp.2d 659, 667 (M.D.Pa. 2006) (citations omitted) and "parties are not free to relitigate issues that the Court has already decided." Jasin, 292 F.Supp.2d at 676 (citations omitted). As ...


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