United States District Court, S.D. New York
August 10, 2005.
ERICA BURLEY, et al., Plaintiffs,
THE CITY OF NEW YORK, et al., Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: WILLIAM PAULEY, District Judge
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Plaintiffs bring this class action asserting federal and state
civil rights claims in connection with the arrest of
demonstrators during the World Economic Forum ("WEF") events held
in New York City in early 2002. Plaintiffs now move for
reconsideration under Local Rule 6.3 of this Court's Memorandum
and Order, dated March 23, 2005, denying Plaintiffs' motion to
certify a class of WEF demonstrators subjected to "unreasonable
and excessive handcuffing" (the "Handcuff Class"). For the
following reasons, Plaintiffs' motion is denied.
The pertinent facts are set forth in this Court's prior
Memorandum and Order. See Burley v. City of New York, No. 03
Civ. 735, 2005 WL 668789 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 23, 2005). In early
February 2002, the WEF held its annual meeting in New York City.
(Second Amended Complaint, filed Nov. 1, 2004 (the "Complaint" or
"Compl.") ¶ 73.) On February 3, 2002, Plaintiffs were arrested
while participating in demonstrations and charged with minor
offenses. (Compl. ¶ 104.)
Plaintiffs challenge two policies implemented by Defendants on
the day of their arrest. First, Plaintiffs claim that while they
were eligible for Desk Appearance Tickets ("DATs"), they were detained for a period of twenty-four to sixty
hours before being arraigned. (Compl. ¶¶ 101-06.) Second,
Plaintiffs assert that they were "rear cuffed" with plastic
handcuffs resulting in tighter and more painful cuffing. (Compl.
¶ 110.) In addition, the Complaint alleges that many plaintiffs
remained handcuffed for "upwards of 10 hours." (Compl. ¶ 105.)
On June 11, 2004, Plaintiffs moved for certification of a DAT
Class and a Handcuff Class. This Court certified a DAT Class of:
"WEF demonstrators arrested for minor offense who were eligible
for Desk Appearance Tickets but were detained for significant
periods of time for arraignment. Burley, 2005 WL 668789, at *9.
This Court declined to certify the proposed Handcuff Class
consisting of arrestees subjected to "unreasonable and excessive"
handcuffing due to the "manner in which the handcuffs were
applied and the length of time in which the plaintiffs and the
members of the plaintiff class were handcuffed." Burley, 2005
WL 668789, at *8.
Plaintiffs move for reconsideration of this Court's ruling
denying certification of the Handcuff Class in light of the
Supreme Court's decision in Muehler v. Mena, 125 S. Ct. 1465
(2005). In addition, Plaintiffs argue that the Handcuff Class
should be certified based only on the period of time
demonstrators were handcuffed, not on the manner in which they
were handcuffed. Defendants counter that Muehler does not
affect this Court's conclusion and that Plaintiffs' attempt to
change the composition of the Handcuff Class at this stage raises
a new argument inappropriate for reconsideration. DISCUSSION
I. Motion for Reconsideration Standard
A motion for reconsideration brought under Local Rule 6.3 "will
generally be denied unless the moving party can point to
controlling decisions or data that the court overlooked matters
in other words, that might reasonably be expected to alter the
conclusion reached by the court." Shrader v. CSX Transp., Inc.,
70 F.3d 255, 257 (2d Cir. 1995); see Banco Central de Para. v.
Para. Humanitarian Found., Inc., No. 01 Civ. 9649 (JFK), 2005 WL
1561504, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. June 30, 2005); Colodney v. Continuum
Health Partners, Inc., No. 03 Civ. 7276 (DLC), 2004 WL 1857568,
at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 18, 2004). Such a motion "cannot assert new
arguments or claims which were not before the court on the
original motion." Koehler v. Bank of Berm., Ltd., No. M18-302
(CSH), 2005 WL 1119371, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. May 10, 2005); accord
Am. Hotel Int'l Group v. OneBeacon Ins. Co., No. 01 Civ. 0654
(RCC), 2005 WL 1176122, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. May 18, 2005); Pannonia
Farms, Inc. v. USA Cable, No. 03 Civ. 7841 (NRB), 2004 WL
1794504, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 10, 2004) (reconsideration "is not
occasion for a party to craft new and previously untested legal
theories"). The standard for granting a motion for
reconsideration is strict and the decision on such a motion is
"within the sound discretion of the district court." Colodney,
2004 WL 1857568, at *1.
II. Certification of a Handcuff Class
Plaintiffs' argument concerning the Supreme Court's holding in
Muehler and their new formulation of the Handcuff Class are
inappropriate grounds for reconsideration.
In its prior ruling, this Court denied certification of a
Handcuff Class based on Plaintiffs' failure to establish that the
proposed class was definite and ascertainable, as required by
Rule 23. Burley, 2005 WL 668789, at *8-9. Specifically, this
Court held that Plaintiffs' "elastic definition requires this Court to delve into the
specific conditions under which plaintiffs were handcuffed . . .
[t]he necessity for [which] is at odds with the definiteness
requirement." Burley, 2005 WL 668789, at *8. Muehler does not
alter that conclusion.
In Muehler, the Supreme Court held that the respondent's
detention in handcuffs during a warrant-executed search did not
violate her Fourth Amendment rights as such detention "was
reasonable because the governmental interests outweigh the
marginal intrusion." Muehler, 125 S.Ct. at 1470 (citing Graham
v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 396-97 (1989)). The Supreme Court
noted, however, that "[t]he duration of a detention can, of
course, affect the balance of interests under Graham."
Muehler, 125 S. Ct. at 1471. Plaintiffs argue that in light of
Muehler, they have stated a viable Fourth Amendment claim to
the extent they remained handcuffed beyond a reasonable amount of
As this Court noted in its previous decision, "`[i]n
determining the propriety of a class action, the question is not
whether the plaintiff or plaintiffs have stated a cause of action
. . . but rather whether the requirements of Rule 23 are met.'"
Burley, 2005 WL 668789, at *2 (quoting Eisen v. Carlisle &
Jacquelin, 417 U.S. 156, 178 (1974)). Because nothing in
Muehler affects Plaintiffs' ability to demonstrate
ascertainability with respect to the Handcuff Class, that
decision is not an "overlooked controlling decision" warranting
reconsideration by this Court. S.D.N.Y. & E.D.N.Y. Local R. 6.3;
Shrader, 70 F.3d at 257; Colodney, 2004 WL 1857568, at *1.
Plaintiffs' attempt to redefine the Handcuff Class to one based
on time alone and not time and tightness raises a new argument
prohibited by Local Rule 6.3. Reconsideration is not an
invitation for parties to "treat the court's initial decision as
the opening of a dialogue in which that party may then use such a
motion to advance new theories or adduce new evidence in response
to the court's rulings." De Los Santos v. Fingerson, No. 97
Civ. 3972 (MBM), 1998 WL 788781, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 12, 1998); accord In re
Rezulin Prods. Liab. Litig., 224 F.R.D. 346, 349 (S.D.N.Y.
2004); see also Koehler, 2005 WL 1119371, at *1 (new
arguments not appropriate for reconsideration); Pannonia Farms,
Inc., 2004 WL 1794504, at *3.
In their initial complaint and subsequent amended complaints,
Plaintiffs alleged consistently that both "the manner in which
the handcuffs were applied and the length of time in which the
plaintiffs and the members of the plaintiff class were handcuffed
was unreasonable, unnecessary and excessive." (Complaint, filed
Jan. 31, 2004 ¶ 98; First Amended Complaint, filed Apr. 15, 2003
¶ 106; Second Amended Complaint, filed Nov. 1, 2004 ¶ 111.)
Further, Plaintiffs adhered to that class definition through
briefing and oral argument on class certification. (Plaintiffs
Memorandum of Law in Support of Class Certification, dated June
11, 2004 at 5, 14-15; Plaintiffs Reply Memorandum of Law in
Support of Class Certification, dated Sept. 10, 2004 at 10;
Transcript of Oral Argument on Oct. 1, 2004 at 22-23.)
Plaintiffs have impermissibly advanced a new theory concerning
the composition of the Handcuff Class. See Valentine v. Metro.
Life Ins. Co., No. 85 Civ. 3006 (CSH), 2005 WL 1278524, at *2
(S.D.N.Y. May 31, 2005) (Local Rule 6.3 "limitations ensure
finality and prevent the rule from becoming a vehicle by which a
losing party may examine a decision `and then plug? the gaps of
a lost motion with additional matters.'" (quoting Carolco
Pictures, Inc. v. Sirota, 700 F. Supp. 169, 170 (S.D.N.Y.
1988))); accord Am. Hotel, 2005 WL 1176122, at *1. CONCLUSION
For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiffs' motion for
reconsideration is denied.
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