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Phelps v. Kapnolas

July 20, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles J. Siragusa United States District Judge



This is a closed case, originally brought by Plaintiff pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Before the Court is Plaintiff's motion (Docket No. 140) which he appears to label as one seeking either costs pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1920, a judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d), or in forma pauperis status pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. In actuality, however, the Court determines that the motion seeks reconsideration of the Court's prior reconsideration of its prior Decision and Order granting Defendants summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, Plaintiff's motion is denied and the Court orders Plaintiff to show cause why he should not be sanctioned.


The factual and procedural background of this case was set forth in this Court's Decision and Order (Docket No. 126), filed on June 1, 2005, and will not be repeated here. In that Order, the Court granted Defendants' motion for summary judgment, after finding that, inter alia, Plaintiff had failed to establish both the subjective and objective elements of his Eighth Amendment claim, and that, in any event, Defendants were entitled to qualified immunity. Judgment was entered against plaintiff (Docket No. 127) on June 7, 2005, and on June 9, 2005, Plaintiff filed a Notice of Appeal (Docket No. 128) to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Subsequently, on September 2, 2005 (Docket No. 132), this Court filed a decision and order denying Plaintiff's post-judgment motion for partial summary judgment (Docket No. 130), and, on February 21, 2006, the Second Circuit dismissed Plaintiff's appeal in an Order entered in this Court's docket (Docket No. 134). Then, on June 11, 2009, Plaintiff moved for reconsideration (Docket No. 135), which the Court denied in its Memorandum and Order entered on July 31, 2009 (Docket No. 138). On October 7, 2009, the Court entered a Letter Order that stated:

I am in receipt of your letter and motions under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 54(d) and (e), 60(b), and 68 dated August 30 and 31, 2009. Please note that since Judgment was entered for the defendants on June 7, 2005, and your appeal was dismissed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in a mandate filed on August 19, 2005, this Court no longer has jurisdiction to entertain motions on this case of the type you sent. Accordingly, your documents are being returned to you with this letter. You have also sent a motion for a stay under Rule 62. Your motion, however, does not allege that the defendants are presently engaged in enforcing their judgment. Moreover, the judgment only dismissed the complaint against them, and did not award money damages or injunctive relief to them. Further, the docket does not show that they have asked the Clerk to bill costs to you under 28 U.S.C. § 1920. Therefore, even if a motion under Rule 62 were filed, there would be nothing to stay.

Finally, you have also sent a motion to amend the judgment pursuant to Rule 59. As your motion paper states, however, the rule sets a ten-day limit on filing as measured from the date of entry of judgment, which in your case was over four years ago. Furthermore, as is the case with your Rule 62 application, your Rule 59 motion is nothing more than a recitation of the statutory language.

I direct you not to file any further inappropriate motions in the above-referenced action. If you do so, I will consider imposing sanctions against you.


(Letter Order, Phelps v. Kapnolas, No. 94-CV-7543-CJS (W.D.N.Y. Oct. 7, 2009).)


The standard for granting a motion for reconsideration "is strict, and reconsideration 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). A motion to reconsider should not be granted where the moving party seeks solely to relitigate an issue already decided. Id.

Because Plaintiff's motion was not "served within ten (10) days after the entry of the court's determination of the original motion" for summary judgment, this Court treats the reconsideration motion as filed under Rule 60(b), rather than Rule 59(e), of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Briller v. Barnhart, No. 04 Civ. 3649(RWS), 2006 WL 118367, at *1 n.1 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 16, 2006) (treating pro se plaintiff's reconsideration motion as filed pursuant to Rule 60(b) rather than Rule 59(e), where reconsideration motion was filed more than ten days after entry of court's determination of original motion.). The law governing relief under Rule 60(b) is as follows:

Rule 60(b) is designed to strike a balance between serving the ends of justice and preserving the finality of judgments. A motion for relief from judgment is generally not favored and is properly granted only upon a showing of exceptional circumstances. In addition to demanding that the movant show exceptional circumstances, the courts of this circuit also require that the evidence in support of the motion be highly convincing, that the movant ...

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