Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Orth v. Powers

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

June 25, 2015

JOHN ORTH, Plaintiff,
v.
AMY POWERS, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER [1]

SUSAN PARADISE BAXTER United States Magistrate Judge

I. Introduction

Presently before this Court is Defendants’ motion for reconsideration pursuant to Federal Rule 59(e). ECF No. 79.

Defendants seek reconsideration of this Court’s Memorandum Opinion and Order addressing cross-motions for summary judgment. ECF No. 76. Because the Court writes primarily for the parties and has addressed this matter extensively in its prior decision, this analysis focuses on the facts relevant to the resolution of the present motion for reconsideration.

II. Relevant Procedural and Factual History

Plaintiff, originally acting pro se, filed this civil rights action on December 29, 2011.Named as Defendants are: Catherine McVey, former Chair of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole (“PBPP”); Michael Potteiger, current Chair of the PBPP; and PBPP employees: Amy Powers, Edward Lauth, Patricia Valauri, Thomas Wolfe, Carie Everett; Tammy Makin, Denise Quach, Kelly Ciafre and other unidentified PBPP agents. Later, counsel was obtained for Plaintiff and amended complaints were filed on his behalf.[2]

The amended complaint explains that in late 2010, Plaintiff was incarcerated in state prison at SCI Forest. While attempting to arrange a home placement plan in anticipation of parole, and even after he was granted parole, Plaintiff was subject to specific parole conditions based solely on a twenty-year-old prior conviction for a sexual offense. Plaintiff claims that the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole’s imposition of these harsh conditions which prohibited him from all contact with his own children violated his constitutional rights. Plaintiff frames this constitutional issue as the denial of substantive and procedural due process based upon his constitutionally protected liberty interest in familial integrity.[3]

Following a period of discovery, the parties filed cross motions for summary judgment. ECF No. 57, 62. By Memorandum Opinion and Order dated March 31, 2015, this Court granted in part and denied in part both motions for summary judgment. Of relevance to the analysis of the present motion for reconsideration, Defendants’ motion for summary judgment based upon qualified immunity was denied. ECF No. 76.

Thereafter, Defendants filed the instant motion for reconsideration. ECF No. 79. Plaintiff filed an opposition and Defendants filed a reply. ECF No. 91; ECF No. 93.

III. Standard of Review

Motions for reconsideration are not explicitly recognized by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. United States v. Compaction Sys. Corp., 88 F.Supp.2d 339, 345 (D.N.J. 1999). However, a motion for reconsideration may be treated as a motion to alter or amend judgment under Federal Rule 59(e) or as a motion for relief from judgment under Federal Rule 60(b). Id. See also Jones v. Pittsburgh Nat’l Corp., 899 F.2d 1350, 1352 (3d Cir. 1990) (recognizing that a motion for reconsideration is usually the “functional equivalent” of a motion to alter or amend judgment under Rule 59(e)). Here, Defendants expressly move for reconsideration pursuant to Rule 59(e).

“‘Because federal courts have a strong interest in finality of judgments, ’” “[m]otions for reconsideration under Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are granted sparingly.” Jacobs v. Bayha, 2011 WL 1044638, at *2 (W.D. Pa. Mar. 18, 2011) quoting Continental Cas. Co. v. Diversified Indus., Inc., 884 F.Supp. 937, 943 (E.D.Pa.1995). 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 which was not available when the court issued its order; or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent a manifest injustice. Lazardis v. Wehmer, 591 F.3d 666, 669 (3d Cir. 2010) quoting Max's Seafood Café ex rel. Lou-Ann, Inc. v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 678 (3d Cir. 1999).

Here, Defendants’ motion is based only on “the need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent a manifest injustice.” Defendants’ burden is especially heavy in this regard. “[A] mere disagreement with the court does not translate into a clear error of law.” Mpala v. Smith, 2007 WL 136750, at *2 (M.D. Pa. Jan. 16, 2007).

It follows from the remedial purpose of a Rule 59(e) motion that the standard of review relates back to the standard applicable in the underlying decision. United States v. Fiorelli, 337 F.3d 282, 288 (3d Cir. 2003). Accordingly, when a motion for reconsideration challenges the court's decision to grant or deny summary judgment, the standard set forth in Federal Rule 56 guides the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.