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Hill v. Napoli

United States District Court, W.D. New York

December 1, 2014

MICHAEL HILL, Plaintiff,
DAVID F. NAPOLI, et al., Defendants

Michael Hill, Plaintiff, Pro se, Pine City, NY.

For David Napoli, Superintendent, Southport Correctional Facility, Norman R. Bezio, Director Special Housing Inmate disciplinary Program, Angie Gora, Nurse Administrator, Southport Correctional Facility, Kathy Felker, Nurse Administrator, Southport Correctional Facility, Roger Held, Correctional Guard, Southport Correctional Facility, Timothy Harvey, Correctional Guard, Southport Correctional Facility, John Rogers, Correctional Guard, Southport Correctional Facility, Timothy Allison, Sergeant, Southport Correctional Facility, Randy P. Hurt, Sergeant, Southport Correctional Facility, Jacqueline M. Mackey, Senior Counselor, Southport Correctional Facility, James Escrow, Commissioners Hearing Officer, William J. Abrunzo, Inmate Grievance Program, Defendants: J. Richard Benitez, LEAD ATTORNEY, NYS Attorney General's Office, Rochester, NY.


HONORABLE MICHAEL A. TELESCA, United States District Judge.

I. Introduction

Michael Hill (" Plaintiff"), an inmate in the custody of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (" DOCCS"), brought this pro se action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § § 1983 and 1985 against Defendants for alleged violations of his First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. See Complaint (" Compl.") (Dkt #1). After Defendants answered the Complaint, the matter proceeded to discovery. Plaintiff then filed a Motion to Compel Discovery (Dkt #51) and Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt #26). Defendants opposed both of Plaintiff's motions, and cross-moved for dismissal of the Complaint (##47, 53) pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (" Rule 12(b)(6)"). Based upon the contents of the parties' submissions and the arguments made therein, the Court determined that it was proper to treat Defendants' motion to dismiss as a cross-motion for summary judgment.

On March 31, 2014, the Court issued a Decision and Order (Dkt #58) denying with prejudice Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Discovery (Dkt #51); denying with prejudice Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt #26); granting Defendants' Motion to Dismiss/Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt #47); and dismissing the Complaint in its entirety with prejudice. Judgment (Dkt #59) was entered that day. Plaintiff filed a Notice of Appeal with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on May 5, 2014.

On July 22, 2014, Plaintiff filed a document in this Court captioned as a " Motion to Reconsider/Reargue Pursuant to 59(e) 60(b)", which was docketed as a Motion for Reconsideration (Dkt #65). On September 5, 2014, a Notice of Stay (Dkt #66) was filed in this Court with regard to Plaintiff's appeal to the Second Circuit.

Defendants have not responded to Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's application is denied.

II. Relevant Legal Standards

Motions to alter or amend the judgment under Rule 59(e) " must be filed no later than 28 days after the entry of the judgment." Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e). Importantly, " a court must not extend time to act under Rules . . . 59(b), (d), and (e) and 60(b)." Fed.R.Civ.P. 6(b)(2). This rule limiting the Court's discretion is " mandatory and jurisdictional and . . . cannot be circumvented regardless of excuse." Rodick v. City of Schenectady, 1 F.3d 1341, 1346 (2d Cir. 1993) (citation and quotation omitted). Furthermore, Plaintiff's pro se status " does not exempt [him] from compliance with relevant rules of procedural and substantive law." Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 477 (2d Cir. 2006).

Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration was not filed until nearly three months after the entry of judgment in this case, and it therefore is untimely. However, under Second Circuit case law, " an untimely motion for reconsideration is treated as a Rule 60(b) motion" to vacate the judgment. Lora v. O'Heaney, 602 F.3d 106, 111 (2d Cir. 2010) (citing Branum v. Clark, 927 F.2d 698, 704 (2d Cir. 1991)). Rule 60(c) provides 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). A Rule 60(b) motion " is addressed to the sound discretion of the district court. . . ." Nemaizer v. Baker, 793 F.2d 58, 61 (2d Cir. 1986) (citations omitted).

It is clearly settled, however, that a motion under Rule 60(b) " cannot serve as an attempt to relitigate the merits" of a prior decision. Fleming v. New York Univ., 865 F.2d 478, 484 (2d Cir. 1989) (citing Mastini v. American Tel. & Telegraph Co., 369 F.2d 378, 379 (2d Cir. 1966), cert. denied, 387 U.S. 933, 87 S.Ct. 2055, 18 L.Ed.2d 994 (1967); Nederlandsche Handel-Maatschappij, N.V. v. Jay Emm, Inc., 301 F.2d 114, 115 (2d Cir. 1962)). A court considering a Rule 60(b) motion " must balance the policy in favor of hearing a litigant's claims on the merits against the policy in favor of finality." Kotlicky v. United States Fidelity & Guar. Co., 817 F.2d 6, 9 (2d Cir. 1987) (citation omitted). The Second Circuit has characterized Rule 60(b) relief as " extraordinary" requiring proof of " exceptional circumstances." Id. (citations omitted). Thus, before granting a Rule 60(b) motion, a court should be satisfied that the claims are supported by " highly convincing" evidence; that " good cause" is shown as to why the movant could not have acted sooner; and that " no undue hardship [is] imposed on other parties." Kotlicky, 817 F.2d at 9 (citations omitted).

A court may grant a motion brought under Rule 60(b) for the following reasons: " (1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect; (2) newly discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence, could not 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) the judgment is void; (5) the judgment has been satisfied, released, or discharged . . .; or (6) any other reason that justifies relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b). According to Plaintiff, vacatur is warranted because this Court erroneously resolved disputes meant for a trial jury; " misquoted, misconstrued, misinterpreted, and misapplied facts, exhibits and case law"; and committed a " clear mistake or a misconduct that has caused an injustice." Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration (" Pl's Mot."), ΒΆ 4. The Court finds that Plaintiff's motion is most properly considered under subsection (1) of Rule 60(b), which allows a litigant relief from judgment because of " mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect." Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(1). The other subsections of Rule 60(b) are inapplicable here. While subsection (6), also known as Rule 60(b)'s catchall provision, potentially could apply, the Second Circuit has made clear that a district court may consider a motion under that provision " only if the ...

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