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B.L. v. Lamas

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

April 5, 2017

B.L., Plaintiff,
v.
MARIROSA LAMAS, et al, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Robert D. Mariani United States District Judge

         I. Introduction

         Presently before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration, (Doc. 64), which asks the Court to reconsider part of its Order of February 13, 2017, (Doc. 52), in which the Court dismissed Count II of Plaintiffs Complaint with prejudice. For the reasons discussed below, the Court will deny the Motion for Reconsideration.

         II. Procedural History

         B.L., the prisoner-plaintiff in this matter, filed a Complaint with the assistance of counsel on July 3, 2015. (Doc. 1). The Complaint alleges various causes of actions stemming from the alleged sexual abuse B.L. experienced at the hands of a prison guard. The only cause of action relevant to the present motion is found in Count II of Plaintiffs Complaint and is stylized as "Violation of Eighth Amendment by State Created Danger." (Doc. 1 at 49). Count II is against various prison officials who allegedly either put Plaintiff in an environment in which he was raped, or failed to take action to prevent the rape from occurring. (Doc. 1 at ¶¶ 183-188).

         On September 04, 2015, most of the Defendants jointly filed a Motion to Dismiss.[1](Doc. 12). As relevant here, the Motion sought to dismiss Count II of Plaintiffs Complaint on the basis that Plaintiff failed to plead any affirmative action on the part of the Defendants as required for a state-created danger cause of action, (Doc. 13 at 5-6). On August 30, 2016, Magistrate Judge Carlson issued a Report and Recommendation ("R&R"), and recommended that this Court deny Defendants' Motion as it pertains to Count II of Plaintiffs Complaint. (Doc. 44 at 23-27).

         Defendants objected to this recommendation and, in doing so, raised two arguments for the first time: (1) the heading of Count II was brought as an Eighth Amendment claim while the state-created danger doctrine falls under the Fourteenth Amendment; and (2) Count II should have been dismissed pursuant to the more-specific-provision rule. (Doc, 46 at 3-6). In response, Plaintiff argued that he could bring a state-created danger cause of action under the Eighth Amendment and that the more-specific-provision rule did not bar his claim. (Doc. 47 at 2-7).

         In an Opinion addressing the objections to the R&R, this Court noted that Plaintiff provided no authority for his proposition that he could bring a state-created danger cause of action under the Eighth Amendment and made clear that the state-created danger doctrine flows from the Fourteenth Amendment. (Doc. 51 at 4 n.2). Therefore, the Court construed Plaintiffs Complaint as bringing the state-created danger claim under the Fourteenth Amendment and found that the claim was barred by the more-specific-provision rule under Betts v. New Castle Youth Development Center, 621 F.3d 249, 259-61 (3d Cir. 2010). (Doc. 51 at 2-4). Accordingly, finding that there was no viable state-created danger cause of action available to Plaintiff, the Court dismissed Count II with prejudice.[2] (Doc. 52 at 1).

         Plaintiff then filed the present Motion for Reconsideration, (Doc. 64), arguing that dismissing Count II with prejudice was a clear error of law, (Doc. 65).

         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). Specifically, the motion is generally permitted only if (1) there is an intervening change in the controlling law; (2) new evidence becomes available that was not previously available at the time the Court issued its decision; or (3) to correct clear errors of law or fact or prevent manifest injustice. Max's Seafood Cafe ex rel. Lou-Ann, Inc. v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999). Moreover, "motions for reconsideration should not be used to put forward arguments which the movant... could have made but neglected to make before judgment." United States v. Jasin, 292 F.Supp.2d 670, 677 (E.D. Pa. 2003) (internal quotation marks and alterations omitted) (quoting Reich v. Compton, 834 F.Supp.2d 753, 755 (E.D. Pa. 1993) rev'd in part and aff'd in part on other grounds, 57 F.3d 270 (3d Cir. 1995)). Nor should they "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." Donegan v. Livingston, 877 F.Supp.2d 212, 226 (M.D. Pa. 2012) (quoting Ogden v. Keystone Residence, 226 F.Supp.2d 588, 606 (M.D. Pa. 2002)).

         IV. Analysis

         The only basis for reconsideration Plaintiff raises in his brief is that the Court committed a clear error of law by dismissing his state-created danger claim with prejudice. Although much of Plaintiff's brief betrays a basic lack of understanding what the Court did and did not do in its Order of February 13, 2017, one subsection raises arguments amenable to resolution on a Motion for Reconsideration. The Court will begin by addressing these arguments and then will provide an ...


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