The opinion of the court was delivered by: RANDOLPH TREECE, Magistrate Judge
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER*fn1
Once again this Court is being called upon to render a Decision
in this action. Familiarity with the facts of this case is
presumed.*fn2 Presently pending before the Court are three
Motions from Plaintiffs, specifically, a Motion for
Reconsideration, pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 60(b)(2) & (3), a
Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment, pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P.
59(e), and a Motion for a Stay Pending Appeal, pursuant to FED.
R. APP. P. 8(a). Dkt. Nos. 123 & 129. Both the State and Federal
Defendants jointly oppose Plaintiffs' Motions. Dkt. No. 131. For
the following reasons, Plaintiffs' Motions are denied.
The Court finds it prudent, and accordingly accepts the
invitation of the parties, to address the complex and somewhat
anomalistic procedural history of this case. Specifically, a
concern has been raised as to what, if any, jurisdiction this
Court retained over this action after the Second Circuit issued
its Mandate on the appeal of this Court's prior Memorandum
Decision and Order, dated September 30, 2002. See Dkt. No. 71,
SPARC I, 225 F. Supp. 2d 219 (N.D.N.Y. 2002) & Dkt. No. 98,
SPARC III, 352 F.3d 545 (2d Cir. 2003). Since an appeal is
currently pending of this Court's most recent Memorandum Decision
and Order, dated February 25, 2005 (SPARC IV,
358 F. Supp. 2d 83 (N.D.N.Y. 2005)), a clarification of the jurisdictional basis
for our last Decision, and this Decision, is warranted.
Initially, we note that this action at all times has been
equitable in nature, that is, from the outset, Plaintiffs sought
only declaratory and injunctive relief from the Court. To be more
specific, Plaintiffs initiated this action seeking (1) a
declaration that Defendants failed to comply with state and
federal environmental and transportation laws; (2) a mandatory
injunction requiring Defendants to comply with the federal and
state laws; and (3) an injunction requiring Defendants to revoke
their approval of the Stewart Airport [expansion] project and the
FEIS and prohibiting any further development of the project. Dkt.
No. 2, Am. Compl. The fact that this action is equitable is
significant, as explained more fully below, with regard to the
Mandates of the Second Circuit and this Court retaining
jurisdiction over this action.
On September 30, 2002, this Court issued a Memorandum Decision
and Order granting Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment,
denying Plaintiffs' Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment, and directing the Clerk of the Court to enter Judgment
for all Defendants and close the file; a Judgment was accordingly
issued that same date. Dkt. No. 71, SPARC I; Dkt. No. 72,
Judgment. On October 25, 2002, Plaintiffs filed a Notice of
Appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second
Circuit regarding this Court's September 30th Decision. Dkt.
No. 76. Simultaneously, in accordance with Federal Rule of
Appellate Procedure 8(a), Plaintiffs filed a Motion with this
Court seeking multiple relief, namely, (1) a stay of execution of
this Court's Judgment pending a determination on appeal; (2) an
injunction barring Defendants from proceeding with construction,
destruction, or any further development regarding the interchange
and Stewart Airport; (3) a waiver of the requirement of a
supersedeas bond; and (4) a temporary restraining order pending
this Court's determination on the motion for a
stay/injunction.*fn3 Dkt. Nos. 73-75 & 81. Defendants
opposed the Plaintiffs' Motions. Dkt. Nos. 77-80 & 83.
On November 21, 2002, this Court issued a Memorandum Decision
and Order, (1) granting Plaintiffs' Motion for a Stay and
Injunction pending appeal to the Second Circuit; (2) enjoining
the Defendants from "proceeding with construction, destruction,
or any further development regarding the I-84 and I-87
Interchanges and Stewart Airport" pending a decision on the
appeal; (3) granting Plaintiffs' Motion to waive the
supersedeas bond requirement; and (4) denying Plaintiffs'
Application for a Temporary Restraining Order as moot. Dkt. No.
85, SPARC II, 232 F. Supp. 2d 1 (N.D.N.Y. 2002). On December 9,
2002, by Order to Show Cause, the State Defendants sought
reconsideration of the November 21st Decision and an order
vacating the stay pending appeal (Dkt. No. 86), which Plaintiffs
opposed (Dkt. Nos. 89-90). The State Defendants also filed a
Notice of Appeal to the Second Circuit regarding our November 21st
Decision. Dkt. No. 91. On December 23, 2002, in ruling on the
Motion for Reconsideration, this Court modified the November
Order only to the extent we mistakenly enjoined construction of
the I-84/I-87 Interchanges when the subject of the litigation is
solely the I-84/Drury Lane Interchange. Dkt. No. 93. All other
relief sought was denied. Id. On December 27, 2002, the State
Defendants filed a Notice of Appeal to the Second Circuit of that
Decision.*fn4 Dkt. No. 94.
On May 18, 2004, the Second Circuit issued its Mandate
regarding the appeal of this Court's September 30th Decision.
Dkt. No. 98, SPARC III.*fn5 In reviewing this Court's
September 30th Decision, the Second Circuit reversed our
Judgment for Defendants only "to the extent [the district court]
declared that the Defendants were not required to perform the
analysis set forth in Section 4(f) before approving construction
of the interchange[.]" Id. at 562. In this regard, the Second
Circuit remanded the case back to this Court with instructions
"to enter judgment for Plaintiffs with respect to [the 4(f)]
issue and to remand to the Secretary of Transportation for
further proceedings consistent with [the Second Circuit's]
opinion for the purpose of conducting the analysis required by
Section 4(f)." Id. In all other respects, the Decision of this
Court was upheld. Id.
II. JURISDICTION AFTER SPARC III
In reviewing the Second Circuit's Mandate, this Court made the
following interpretations. First, with regard to the direction to enter a judgment for
Plaintiffs on the 4(f) issue, we determined that, in light of the
equitable relief initially sought by Plaintiffs in this action, a
judgment for Plaintiffs on the 4(f) issue meant a declaration
that the Defendants violated 4(f) of the Department of
Transportation Act of 1966, 49 U.S.C. § 303, and the injunction
we previously granted pending appeal would remain in place
thereby precluding the Defendants from proceeding with
construction of the Drury Lane/I-84 Interchange project. Second,
with regard to the Circuit's direction for this Court to remand
the 4(f) issue to the Secretary of Transportation for further
proceedings, it was this Court's understanding that pending
further review by FHWA, the aforementioned injunction would
remain in place and this case would remain open in District
Inadvertently, this Court failed to enter an actual judgment
for the Plaintiffs as directed. Had we issued a judgment for
Plaintiffs, the judgment would have encompassed the above
interpretations, that is, we would have had the Secretary of
Transportation resubmit the 4(f) analysis, as mandated by the
Second Circuit, to this Court for further review, which would
have kept this action open and under this Court's jurisdiction.
We believe this is a proper interpretation of the Second
Circuit's Mandate in light of judicial economy and in the
interest of rendering a final resolution to this matter. Had we
not envisioned keeping the case open in District Court, the
parties would have been immobilized unless and until one of the
parties initiated a new plenary proceeding in District Court;
invariably and logically, such new action would seek to remove
the hindrance preventing them from going forward with the
construction project, namely, the injunction. Neither the Court
nor the parties viewed the Mandate as requiring closure and
successive litigation. Had that been true, we believe the Second
Circuit would have specifically stated such.
A contributing reason why this Court was distracted from filing
a judgment for the Plaintiffs, though by no means are the parties blameworthy, was the parties'
quick inquest as to this Court's jurisdiction over the case after
the Second Circuit's Mandate. Approximately two weeks or so after
the Second Circuit's Mandate was issued and docketed by the Clerk
of this Court, we received correspondence, dated June 7, 2004,
from Lisa Burianek, Assistant Attorney General (AAG) and counsel
for the State Defendants. Dkt. No. 99. By her correspondence, AAG
Burianek sought a conference with the Court and all parties to
discuss the status of this case. Id. Accordingly, a telephone
conference was held on June 17, 2004, and it became apparent that
all parties concurred with this Court's interpretation of the
status of the action after the Second Circuit's Directives. It
was revealed at that conference that even though this Court had
not yet had an opportunity to officially enter a judgment for the
Plaintiffs on the docket and officially remand the 4(f) issue to
FHWA for further proceedings, FHWA had already engaged and
completed what Defendants believed complied with the Second
Circuit's Directives.*fn6 Notwithstanding this Court's
inadvertence in officially entering judgment for Plaintiffs, all
parties believed that an injunction was in place barring further
construction. It was therefore decided, upon the consensus of the
parties, that in order for the Court to review the actions taken
by the Secretary a motion to vacate the stay and injunction
should be filed. A briefing schedule was established, which was
twice amended at the request of the parties (Dkt. Nos. 107 &
109), with regard to exchange of certain discovery and motions.
Subsequently, the Defendants filed their Motions to Vacate the
Stay and Injunction (Dkt. Nos. 102 & 103), which Plaintiffs
opposed (Dkt. No. 110).
On February 11, 2005, the Court heard Oral Arguments on the
matter (Dkt. No. 118) and a Memorandum Decision and Order was issued by this Court on
February 25, 2005 (Dkt. No. 119, SPARC IV). In reviewing the
further proceedings completed by the Secretary, this Court found
that the Secretary complied with the Second Circuit's Directives
as well as the transportation laws. SPARC IV,
358 F. Supp. 2d at 105. Accordingly, we granted Defendants' Joint Motion to lift
the Stay and Injunction. Id. Due to clerical error, a Judgment
for Defendants was not issued until April 21, 2005. Dkt. No. 128.
On March 23, 2005, prior to the Judgment being entered by the
Clerk of the Court, Plaintiffs filed a Notice of Appeal to the
Second Circuit regarding this Court's February 25th Decision.
Dkt. No. 120. Then, on April 19, 2004, in accordance with Federal
Rule of Appellate Procedure 8(a), Plaintiffs filed a "Motion for
a Stay Pending Appeal, for Injunctive Relief, and Waiver of
Supersedeas Bond" and, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 60(b), a Motion to Reconsider the February 25th
Decision on the grounds, inter alia, that the Court was
provided with false information at Oral Argument. Dkt. No. 123.
After a Judgment for Defendants had been docketed by the Clerk of
the Court, Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59. Dkt. No. 129.
Defendants jointly oppose all of Plaintiffs' current Motions.
Dkt. No. 131.
III. JURISDICTION OVER PLAINTIFFS' CURRENT MOTIONS
Before we review the substance of Plaintiffs' current Motions,
we must assess the Court's jurisdictional basis to entertain the
Motions in light of the timing of the filing of Plaintiffs'
Notice of Appeal and their Motions.
A. Plaintiffs' Rule 60(b) Motion*fn7
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) lists six grounds for
seeking reconsideration of a court's order or judgment. While Plaintiffs fail to specifically
reference under which of the six subdivisions they seek relief,
they do state that the basis for their Reconsideration Motion is
that the Court was presented with false evidence and, in turn,
erroneously relied upon such evidence in resolving the
Defendants' Joint Motion to Vacate the Stay/Injunction. Dkt. No.
123. Plaintiffs further state that newly discovered evidence,
which could not have been diligently discovered prior to either
Oral Argument or this Court's February Decision, contradicts the
"false evidence" submitted to the Court at Oral Argument and,
therefore, warrants reconsideration of this Court's prior Order
vacating the Injunction. Id. Based upon such arguments, it
appears to this Court that Plaintiffs seek reconsideration under
ground three, which includes fraud, misrepresentation, or ...