United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR
E. SELF, III, JUDGE
the Court's Order on Defendants' Motion for Summary
Judgment, a long, detailed factual background laying out the
facts of this case is unnecessary. However, to provide at
least some framework, Plaintiff Johnny Blash sued the
above-named Defendants on claims for race discrimination
under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 after former-Sheriff and Defendant Billy W. Cape
fired him on December 1, 2014. While the underlying,
case-specific facts are not essential to this Order,
a detailed discussion of this case's procedural history
since its inception, most certainly is. Before ruling on
Defendant Cape and Defendant Danny Brannen's Motion for
Summary Judgment [Doc. 64], the Court must first consider
Blash's Motion for Reconsideration [Doc. 76], because if
granted, it would necessarily re-open discovery and force
Defendants to completely revamp their dispositive motion.
begin, Blash labeled his motion as a “Motion for
Reconsideration, ” but for some unknown reason, he also
claims he filed it pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 60(b). Notwithstanding this initial procedural
confusion, what is clear is that Blash wants the Court to
reinstate two previously-dismissed claims: his Title VII
race-discrimination claim against Pulaski County and his
individual-capacity claim against Defendant Brannen under
Section 1983. [Doc. 76-1 at p. 4]; see also [Doc. 37
at pp. 8-21]. To refresh, Count 1 of Blash's original
Complaint asserted a race-discrimination claim via 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000e et seq. (“Title VII”)
against all Defendants, including Pulaski County, and Count 3
asserted a race-discrimination claim under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 against Defendant Brannen in both his official and
individual capacities, as well as the other Defendants. [Doc.
1 at pp. 13-14 (asserting claims under “42 U.S.C.
§ 1981”)].Because Defendant Brannen did not move for
dismissal of either Count 1 or Count 3 of Blash's
original Complaint, the race discrimination claims brought
under Title VII and Section 1983 against Defendant Brannen in
his official capacity survived the Court's previous order
on Defendants' dismissal motions. [Doc. 37 at pp. 22-23].
Blash wants to use Rule 60(b)(2), a post-judgment remedy, to
challenge a pretrial Rule 12(b)(6)-based dismissal of his
race discrimination claims. As bases for his Motion, Blash
contends that the Court's previous order dismissing the
two aforementioned claims is both legally and factually
erroneous in light of the evidence uncovered during
discovery; namely that the Pulaski County Sheriff's
Office and Pulaski County were Blash's joint
employers, that “Brannen is racist, ” and that
notwithstanding his lower position as captain, Defendant
Brannen “wielded extraordinary influence over . . .
Cape.” [Doc. 76 at pp. 1-2].
Standard of Review
motion for reconsideration is not a form of relief explicitly
conferred by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Although
not specifically mentioned in the Federal Rules, motions
seeking to have a district court “reconsider” an
earlier ruling are usually governed by Rule 59. Specifically,
Rule 59(e) authorizes a motion to alter or amend a judgment
after its entry, and reconsideration is only proper if the
movant can demonstrate that: (1) there has been an
intervening change in the law, (2) new evidence has been
discovered that was not previously available to the parties
at the time the original order was entered, or (3)
reconsideration is necessary to correct a clear error of law
or prevent manifest injustice. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
59(e); see also Bell v. Houston Cty., No.
5:04-cv-390 (HL), 2007 WL 4146205, at *2 (M.D. Ga. Nov. 19,
2007). “Reconsideration of a prior order is an
extraordinary remedy, and should be employed
sparingly.” Bell, 2007 WL 4142605, at *2
(citing Am. Assoc. of People with Disabilities v.
Hood, 278 F.Supp.2d. 1337, 1339-40 (M.D. Fla. 2003)).
decision whether to alter or amend a judgment pursuant to
Rule 59(e) is “committed to the sound discretion of the
district judge.” Mincey v. Head, 206 F.3d
1106, 1137 (11th Cir. 2000) (citation omitted). “[A]
motion for reconsideration does not provide an opportunity to
simply reargue an issue the Court has once determined. Court
opinions are not intended as mere first drafts, subject to
revision and reconsideration at a litigant's
pleasure.” Bell, 2007 WL 4142605, at *2
(quoting Hood, 278 F.Supp.2d at 1340). According to
the explicit language of the Rule itself, a motion brought
pursuant to Rule 59(e) must be filed no later than 28 days
“after the entry of a judgment.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) (emphasis added).
assured, the Court is fully aware that Blash has moved under
Rule 60 and not Rule 59(e); however, in light of the
procedural posture of this case, a discussion on the
functionality of and distinctions between these rules seems
necessary. In fact, Blash makes no reference to Rule 59,
instead he presents several factors the Court may
“consider in ruling on a Rule 60(b) motion[.]”
[Doc. 76-1 at p. 3 (citing Seven Elves, Inc. v.
Eskenazi, 635 F.2d 396, 401 (5th Cir. 1981))].
Reconsideration motions can also be governed by Rule 60, the
rule governing relief from final judgments and orders.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b). Since these motions are
not mentioned by name in the Federal Rules, courts have
treated such motions to reconsider as being governed by Rule
59(e) if they are filed within 28 days and governed by Rule
60(b) if filed later. Bell, 2007 WL 4142605, at *2
(applying the former ten-day rule) (citing Mahone v.
Ray, 326 F.3d 1176, 1177 n.1 (11th Cir. 2003)).
motion seeking relief from an order made under Rule 60(b),
however, carries a much more relenting deadline. Rule 60(b)
permits a court to relieve a party from a final judgment,
order, or proceeding for six reasons: (1) mistake,
inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect; (2) newly
discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence, could
not previously have been discovered in time to move for a new
trial under Rule 59(b); (3) fraud, misrepresentation, or
misconduct by an opposing party; (4) a void judgment; (5) a
judgment has been satisfied, released, discharged, reversed,
or vacated or that would no longer be equitable to apply; or
(6) any other reason that justifies relief. Fed.R.Civ.P.
60(b)(1)-(6). As for the timing of the motion, Rule 60(c)
states that “[a] motion under Rule 60(b) must be made
within a reasonable time-and for reasons (1), (2), and (3) no
more than a year after the entry of the judgment or order or
the date of the proceeding.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(c)(1).
Blash filed his Motion later than 28 days following the entry
of the June 27, 2018 Order. [Doc. 76 at p. 2]. Accordingly,
Rule 59(e) cannot control. Blash did, however, file his
Motion based on Rule 60(b)(2)'s “newly discovered
evidence” standard exactly one year later on June 27,
2019, just within the one-year timeframe allotted by Rule
60(c) for 60(b)(2) motions. [Id. at pp. 1-2]. Thus,
the Court will address his Motion under the Rule 60 framework
to determine whether alteration or amendment of its June 27,
2018, ruling is appropriate or even procedurally possible.
Rule 60(b) purposes, “[a] final judgment . . . is any
judgment that is an appealable order.” Bell,
2007 WL 4142605, at *2 (quoting Solaroll Shade &
Shutter Corp. v. Bio-Energy Sys., 803 F.2d 1130, 1131
(11th Cir. 1986). There can be no question that the
Court's Order on Defendants' Motions to Dismiss from
June 27, 2018, was not a final judgment as contemplated by
Rule 60. See generally [Doc. 37]. Based on this,
Rule 60 is likewise an inappropriate avenue to obtain the
sought-after relief, leaving Blash with only one option:
routine motions for reconsideration filed under Local Rule
these types of motions must be filed within 14 days after the
entry of the order in question and “shall not be filed
as a matter of routine practice.” LR 7.6, MDGa. They
also cannot be used “to offer new legal theories or
evidence that could have been presented in conjunction with
the previously filed motion or response, unless a reason is
given for failing to raise the issue at an earlier stage in
the litigation.” Adler v. Wallace Computer Servs.,
Inc., 202 F.R.D. 666, 675 (N.D.Ga. 2001); cf.
O'Neal v. Kennamer, 958 F.2d 1044, 1047 (11th Cir.
1992) (citing Lussier v. Dugger, 904 F.2d 661, 667
(11th Cir. 1990)) (explaining that motions to amend or alter
a judgment should not be used to raise arguments which could,
and should, have been made before the judgment was issued).
And finally, motions for reconsideration are not intended to
provide an opportunity for the moving party “to
instruct the [C]ourt on how [it] ‘could have done it
better' the first time.” Pres. Endangered Areas
of Cobb's History, Inc. v. U.S. Army Corps of
Eng'rs, 916 F.Supp. 1557, 1560 (N.D.Ga. 1995),
aff'd, 87 F.3d 1242 (11th Cir. 1996).
Blash labeled his Motion as one under Rule 60(b) due to the
one-year filing deadline. While his Motion may have been
timely under Rule 60, the substance of his request simply
does not match the rule's plain text. Unreservedly
stated, his Motion tries to force a square (substantive) peg
into a round (procedural) hole, and the Federal Rules are
just not meant to operate in this manner. Therefore, any
reconsideration sought in this case, given its procedural
posture, must have been cast in a routine motion for
reconsideration under the Court's Local Rules. However,
because Blash filed his Motion 351 days late, it is
procedurally flawed and must be DENIED.