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Pellegrino v. United States of America Transportation Security Administration

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

August 12, 2014

NADINE PELLEGRINO AND HARRY WALDMAN, Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

J. CURTIS JOYNER, District Judge.

Before the Court are Defendants' Motion for Reconsideration (Doc. No. 178), and Plaintiff's Consolidated Motion for Reconsideration and Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Reconsideration Part I (Doc. No. 182) and Part II (Doc. No. 188), as well as Plaintiff's Exhibits (Doc. Nos. 183, 184, 185, 186, 187) and Defendants' Response in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration (Doc. No. 192). Also before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File Under Seal Confidential Information From Defendant Abdul-Malik's Video Deposition Transcript (Doc. No. 191).

For the reasons outlined in this Memorandum, it is hereby ORDERED that Defendants' Motion for Reconsideration (Doc. No. 178) is GRANTED in part, Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration (Doc. No. 182) is DENIED in part, and Plaintiff's Motion For Leave to File (Doc. No. 191) is DENIED.

II. BACKGROUND

The parties request the Court to reconsider its Order on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 175). In that Order and accompanying Memorandum (Doc. No. 174), the Court based its evaluation on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment and accompanying exhibits (Doc. No. 156). Plaintiffs did not file a timely Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, despite receiving five extensions of time. (Doc. Nos. 160, 163, 166, 168, 170). After the last filing deadline had passed, Plaintiffs requested leave to file a few exhibits under seal (Doc. No. 173), which the Court granted, and considered these exhibits in its evaluation.

Defendants move the Court to reconsider the portion of its Order denying Defendants' claims of qualified immunity on Plaintiff's claims of retaliatory and malicious prosecution under the First and Fourth Amendments as to Defendants Abdul-Malik and Labbee.

Plaintiffs oppose Defendants' Motion, and also request the Court to reconsider the portion of its Order determining that probable cause existed for Plaintiff's arrest on charges of aggravated assault, possessing instruments of a crime, simple assault, and recklessly endangering another person. Plaintiffs also move to reinstate claims against TSO Denice Kissinger, TSA officials Scully and Eckl; claims under FOIA and the Privacy Act; and Plaintiff's claims for failure to train, supervise, and control, and a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

In their response, Defendants also request the Court to dismiss all of Plaintiffs' remaining claims, including Plaintiff's property damage claim, based on Plaintiff's willful disobedience of Court orders and noncompliance with Rule 26 disclosure obligations, and bring to the Court's attention the lack of evidence substantiating the alleged property damage.

Because the facts of the case are well known to the parties, the Court incorporates those facts here.

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

"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)(internal citation omitted). An order may be altered or amended if the party seeking reconsideration shows at least one of the following: (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. Howard Hess Dental Laboratories Inc. v. Dentsply Intern., Inc. , 602 F.3d 237, 251 (3d Cir. 2010).

Although "courts often take a dim view of issues raised for the first time in post-judgment motions, " reconsideration is the "appropriate means of bringing to the court's attention manifest errors of fact or law" and courts may not decline to consider issues fundamental to the case. Max's Seafood Cafe ex rel. Lou Ann-Inc. v. Quinteros , 176 F.3d 669, 678 (3d Cir. 1999)(internal citations omitted).

However, while a Court may consider "new evidence that was not available when the court granted the motion for summary judgment, " Howard Hess Dental Laboratories , 602 F.3d at 251, "new evidence', for reconsideration purposes, does not refer to evidence that a party obtains or submits to the court after an adverse ruling. Rather, new evidence in this context means evidence that a party could not earlier submit to the court because that evidence was not previously available ." Id . at 252 (emphasis added)(citing De Long Corp. v. Raymond Int'l, Inc. , 622 F.2d 1135, 1139-40 (3d Cir. 1980), overruled on other grounds by Croker v. Boeing Co., 662 F.2d 975 (3d Cir. 1981)( en banc )). This standard applies equally to litigants who proceed pro se. See, e.g., Watson v. City of Philadelphia, Civ. A. 06-0883, 2006 WL 2818452 at *3 (E.D. Pa. Sept. 28, 2006).

Because Plaintiff and Defendants request reconsideration of the Court's summary judgment order, the Court incorporates the standards governing Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 here. Once a party seeking summary judgment has identified those portions of the record which it believes demonstrates an absence of a genuine issue of material fact, the nonmoving party has the burden of going "beyond the pleadings and by her own affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). Summary judgment may be opposed by any of the materials listed in Rule 56(c), except for the mere pleadings. Id . Additionally, "[w]hile it is certainly true that a party's statements may be evidence for the purposes of a motion for summary judgment if they are sworn statements such as declarations or affidavits, " an unsworn statement of material facts cannot properly be considered as evidence in satisfying the non-moving party's burden. Geatti v. Min-SecCompanies, 3:12-cv-32, 2013 WL 5488720 at *3 (M.D. Pa. Sept. 30, 2013).

IV. ANALYSIS

Both parties have filed Motions for Reconsideration of the Court's April 16, 2014 Order. The Court will consider both Motions on their merits.[1] First, however, the Court addresses the evidence that it may properly consider in its analysis.

In addition to her Consolidated Motion, Plaintiff filed numerous exhibits, including but not limited to a statement of material facts, deposition transcripts and videos, Incident Reports, and hand-drawn and computer-processed layouts of portions of the Philadelphia International Airport. See (Doc. Nos. 182, 183, 184, 185, 186, 187). Plaintiff argues that the "new facts that have not been known, addressed, or have been addressed but not considered, or facts that recently came to light" (Pl. Motion for Reconsideration, Doc. No. 182, at 3) substantiate her claims and must be considered by the Court.

However, the Court is precluded as a matter of law from considering this evidence at this late stage, and has no discretion to do so. Howard Hess Dental Laboratories , 602 F.3d at 252; Blystone v. Horn , 664 F.3d 397, 416 (3d Cir. 2011)("[e]vidence that is not newly discovered... cannot provide the basis for a successful motion for reconsideration.") Plaintiff does not contend that the evidence she submits now was unavailable to her prior to the Court's summary judgment Order, nor does she argue that she was unable to submit it at that time. Plaintiff does not explain when these purportedly new facts came to light, does not state that they came to light after the summary judgment stage, and what, if anything, prevented her from submitting them with a timely motion at summary judgment. It appears that Plaintiff is simply submitting at this stage the evidence she obtained during discovery and failed to timely submit earlier. Thus, the Court is prevented from considering Plaintiff's exhibits or other additional evidence, Howard Hess Dental Laboratories , 602 F.3d at 252, Plaintiff's pro se status notwithstanding. See, e.g., Watson, 2006 WL 2818452 at *3.

Thus, Plaintiff's Motion For Leave to File (Doc. No. 191) is denied because the Court may not consider ...


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