United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
D. Mariani United States District Judge
Calvin Rouse, a former inmate confined at the Retreat State
Correctional Institution, in Hunlock Creek, Pennsylvania,
("SCI-Retreat"),  initiated the instant civil
rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1).
The matter is proceeding via an amended complaint.
(Doc. 40). Named as Defendants are the Pennsylvania
Department of Corrections, and the following individuals
employed at SCI-Retreat; Correctional Officer Sweeney and
Correctional Officer Keefer. Previously by Memorandum and
Order dated January 4, 2016, the Court granted
Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) and closed this
action. (Docs. 68, 69).
before the Court are Rouse's motions (Docs. 71, 76) to
alter or amend judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 59(e). For the reasons set forth below, the Court
will grant the motions.
Standard of Review
threshold matter, the Court notes that Rouse styled his first
motion (Doc. 71) as a motion to alter or amend judgment under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e), and styled his second
motion (Doc. 76) as a motion for reconsideration. The Court
will consider both motions as motions to alter or amend
judgment pursuant to Rule 59(e). When a motion is filed
within 28 days of the entry of judgment, it must be
considered under Rule 59(e), not Rule 60(b). See FED. R. Civ.
P. 59(e) advisory committee's note (2009 amend.)
(expanding the former 10 day time period for filing a motion
to alter or amend a judgment to 28 days). See Rankin v.
Heckler, 761 F.2d 936, 942 (3d Cir.1985) (holding that
"[r]egardless how it is styled, a motion filed within
ten days of entry of judgment questioning the correctness of
a judgment may be treated as a motion to alter or amend the
judgment under Rule 59(e)"). In this case, the Court
entered the final judgment on January 4, 2016. Rouse's
motions were filed on January 19, 2016, and February 3, 2016,
within 28 days of entry of judgment. Accordingly, the Court
will consider the motions under the rubric of Rule 59(e).
to alter or amend a judgment under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 59(e) serve primarily to correct analytical errors
in a prior decision of the court. See FED. R. Civ. P. 59(e);
United States v. Fiorelli, 337 F.3d 282, 287-88 (3d
Cir.2003). Under Rule 59(e), "a judgment may be altered
or amended if the party seeking reconsideration shows at
least one of the following grounds; (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."
Max's Seafood Cafe ex rel. Lou-Ann, Inc. v.
Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999). "A
motion for reconsideration is not to be used as a means to
reargue matters already argued and disposed of... [n]or is it
to be used to put forth additional arguments which could have
been made but which the party neglected to make before
judgment." Waye v. First Citizen's Nat,
Bank, 846 F.Supp. 310, 314 (M.D. Pa. 1994) (citation
omitted). A motion for reconsideration is appropriate in
instances where the court has"... misunderstood a party,
or has made a decision outside the adversarial issues
presented to the Court by the parties, or has made an error
not of reasoning but of apprehension." Rohrbach v.
AT&T Nassau Metals Corp., 902 F.Supp. 523, 527 (M.D.
Pa. 1995), vacated in part on other grounds on
reconsideration 915 F.Supp. 712 (M.D. Pa. 1996),
quoting Above the Belt, Inc. v. Mel Bohannan Roofing,
Inc., 99 F.R.D. 99, 101 (E.D. Va. 1983). Reconsideration
of a judgment is an extraordinary remedy, and the court
grants such motions sparingly. D'Angio v. Borough of
Nescopeck, 56 F.Supp.2d 502, 504 (M.D. Pa. 1999).
instant motions, Rouse requests leave to further amend his
complaint and correct other filings, and to compel responses
to his discovery requests. (Docs. 71, 76, 77).
first claims that he did not know that he needed to file a
brief in opposition to Defendants' renewed motion for
judgment on the pleadings because he had already opposed the
first motion for judgment on the pleadings. (Doc. 71; Doc.
77, p. 1). The procedural history of this case is as follows.
On July 1, 2013, Rouse filed his initial complaint. (Doc. 1).
On August 23, 2013, Rouse filed a supplement to the
complaint. (Doc. 9). On March 28, 2014, Defendant Sweeney
filed a motion dismiss the complaint. (Doc. 26). Rouse then
filed a motion for leave to file an amended complaint, which
the Court granted. (Docs. 32, 39). On August 7, 2014, Rouse
filed his amended complaint. (Doc. 40). Defendant Sweeney
answered the amended complaint and filed a motion for
judgment on the pleadings. (Docs. 42, 43). Rouse filed a
brief in opposition to Defendant Sweeney's motion for
judgment on the pleadings. (Doc. 48). Rouse thereafter filed
a motion to further amend the amended complaint in order to
identify Keefer as the John Doe Defendant. (Doc. 50). The
Court granted the motion to amend and directed service on
Defendant Keefer. (Doc. 53). Defendants Sweeney and Keefer
then filed an amended answer to the amended complaint. (Doc,
61). On July 14, 2015, the Court denied the first motion for
judgment on the pleadings, noting that the motion was filed
only on behalf of Defendant Sweeney. (Doc, 63). The Order
further stated that the motion for judgment on the pleadings
was denied without prejudice to Defendants' right to
reinstate the motion on behalf of both Defendants,
(Id.). On July 14, 2015, Defendants Sweeney and
Keefer filed a renewed motion for judgment on the pleadings.
(Doc. 64). On January 4, 2016, the Court granted
Defendants' renewed motion for judgment on the pleadings
and entered judgment in favor of Defendants. (Docs. 68, 69).
In the instant motions, Rouse seemingly argues that the
filing of a brief in opposition to Defendants' renewed
motion for judgment on the pleadings would have further
developed and supported his claims.
next seeks reconsideration to obtain additional responses to
his discovery requests. (Doc. 77, p. 2). Rouse's amended
complaint alleged an access to courts claim and a retaliation
claim. In the January 4, 2016 Memorandum, the Court found
that Rouse failed to articulate any actual injury in support
of his access to courts claim and failed to set forth any
allegations setting forth a claim of retaliation. (Doc. 68,
pp. 7-8, 10). In the instant motions, Rouse asserts that
further responses to his discovery requests will develop and
support his claims. (Docs. 71, 76, 77).
extent that Rouse argues that a brief in opposition to
Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings and
further discovery would have helped prove his claims, he has
set forth grounds warranting reconsideration of this
Court's January 4, 2016 Order. Out of an abundance of
caution and in order to prevent manifest injustice, the
motions for reconsideration will be granted and this action
will be reopened. By separate Memorandum and Order issued
this date, Rouse will be granted a final opportunity to file
a second amended complaint.
on the foregoing, Rouse's motions (Docs. 71, 76) to alter
or amend judgment pursuant to Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure will be granted and this ...