United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
OPINION PLAINTIFF'S SECOND MOTION FOR
RECONSIDERATION, ECF NO. 104- DENIED
F. LEESON, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Aurelio Bonilla, a former police officer with the City of
Allentown, filed this civil rights action alleging that he
was wrongfully denied a pension. On February 13, 2019, this
Court dismissed Bonilla's due process
claims without prejudice as premature because the
pension proceedings were not complete. The instant Opinion
addresses Bonilla's secondmotion to reconsider that decision
and to certify the order for interlocutory appeal.
Bonilla's motion is based solely on the recent Supreme
Court decision in Knick v. Twp. of Scott, 139 S.Ct.
2162 (2019). For the reasons set forth below, because
Knick has no application to Bonilla's due
process claims, the motion to reconsider and to certify for
an interlocutory appeal is denied.
STANDARDS OF REVIEW
Motion for Reconsideration
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). “Accordingly, 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 by
Lou-Ann, Inc. v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir.
1999). A motion for reconsideration “is not properly
founded on a request that the Court rethink what [it] had
already thought through-rightly or wrongly.”
Pollock v. Energy Corp. of Am., 665 Fed.Appx. 212,
218 (3d Cir. 2016) (internal quotations omitted).
“Because federal courts have a strong interest in the
finality of judgments, motions for reconsideration should be
granted sparingly.” Cont'l Casualty Co. v.
Diversified Indus., 884 F.Supp. 937, 943 (E.D. Pa.
Certification of Order for Interlocutory Appeal
to 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b), a court may certify an order for
interlocutory appeal when: (1) the order involves a
controlling question of law, (2) as to which there is
substantial ground for difference of opinion, and (3) an
immediate appeal from the order may materially advance the
ultimate termination of the litigation. See 28
U.S.C. § 1292(b). “The party seeking the
interlocutory appeal has the burden to establish that all
three conditions are met.” Harris v. Kellogg, Brown
& Root Servs., No. 08-563, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
56193, at *4 (W.D. Pa. Apr. 27, 2016); Orson, Inc. v.
Miramax Film Corp., 867 F.Supp. 319, 320 (E.D. Pa.
1994). “Congress intended that section 1292(b) should
be sparingly applied. It is to be used only in exceptional
cases where an intermediate appeal may avoid protracted and
expensive litigation and is not intended to open the
floodgates to a vast number of appeals from interlocutory
orders in ordinary litigation.” Milbert v. Bison
Labs., Inc., 260 F.2d 431, 433 (3d Cir. 1958).
Interlocutory appeals are disfavored because (1)
“[p]ermitting piecemeal appeals would undermine the
independence of the district judge, as well as the special
role that individual plays in our judicial system, ”
(2) of the “sensible policy of [avoiding] the
obstruction to just claims that would come from permitting
the harassment and cost of a succession of separate appeals
from the various rulings to which a litigation may give rise,
” and (3) of “the important purpose of promoting
efficient judicial administration.” Firestone Tire
& Rubber Co. v. Risjord, 449 U.S. 368, 374 (1981)
(internal quotations omitted).
may also file an interlocutory appeal of orders
“granting, continuing, modifying, refusing or
dissolving injunctions, or refusing to dissolve or modify
injunctions, except where a direct review may be had in the
Supreme Court.” 28 U.S.C. 1292(a)(1). For an
interlocutory order to be immediately appealable under §
1292(a)(1), the “litigant must show more than that the
order has the practical effect of refusing an
injunction.” Carson v. Am. Brands, 450 U.S.
79, 84 (1981). “Because § 1292(a)(1) was intended
to carve out only a limited exception to the final-judgment
rule, [the Supreme Court has] construed the statute narrowly
to ensure that appeal as of right under § 1292(a)(1)
will be available only in circumstances where an appeal will
further the statutory purpose of [permitting] litigants to
effectually challenge interlocutory orders of serious,
perhaps irreparable, consequence.” Id.
(internal quotations omitted). “Unless a litigant can
show that an interlocutory order of the district court might
have a serious, perhaps irreparable, consequence, and that
the order can be effectually challenged only by immediate
appeal, the general congressional policy against piecemeal
review will preclude interlocutory appeal.”
motion for reconsideration is based entirely upon the Supreme
Court's decision in Knick. This Court therefore
begins its analysis with a brief explanation of the facts and
Knick held that a property owner may bring a takings
claim in federal court under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 without
first exhausting state law remedies.
Mary Knick owned ninety acres of land, part of which included
a small graveyard where Knick's neighbor's ancestors
were allegedly buried, in Scott Township, Pennsylvania.
See Knick, 139 S.Ct. at 2168. In 2012, Scott
Township passed an ordinance requiring all cemeteries to be
open and accessible to the general public during daylight
hours. See id. Knick sought declaratory and
injunctive relief in state court on the ground that the
ordinance effected a taking of her property. See id.
In response, the Township agreed to stay enforcement of the
ordinance during the state court proceedings, but the state
court declined to rule on Knick's request for relief
without an ongoing enforcement action. See Id. Knick
then filed an action in federal court alleging the ordinance
violated the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. See
id. The District Court dismissed the action because
Knick had not pursued an inverse condemnation action in state
court, a decision which was affirmed by the Third Circuit
Court of Appeals based on Williamson County Regional
Planning Comm'n v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City,
473 U.S. 172 (1985).
certiorari review, the United States Supreme Court concluded
“that the state-litigation requirement imposes an
unjustifiable burden on takings plaintiffs [and] conflicts
with [other] takings jurisprudence.” See
Knick, 139 S.Ct. at 2167. The Court reasoned that
Williamson County (holding that a property owner has
not suffered a violation of his Fifth Amendment rights until
a state court has denied his claim for just compensation
under state law), taken in conjunction with San Remo
Hotel, L.P. v. City and County of San Francisco, 545
U.S. 323 (2005) (requiring federal courts to give deference
to a state court's resolution of a takings claim),
presented individuals whose property had been taken with a
“Catch-22.” See Knick, 139 S.Ct. at
2167-69. Specifically, an individual whose property had been
taken “cannot go to federal court without going to
state court first; but if he goes to state court and loses,
his claim will be barred in federal court. The federal claim
dies aborning.” Id. at 2167. Knick
resolved this dilemma by overruling ...