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Brooks v. Hogan

United States District Court, N.D. New York

March 15, 2017

MICHAEL HOGAN, et al., Defendants.


          Lawrence E. Kahn U.S. District Judge


         Presently before the Court is pro se Plaintiff Charles Brooks's Motion for Reconsideration of the Court's Decision and Order dated March 31, 2016. Dkt. Nos. 67 (“March Order”), 73 (“Motion”). Plaintiff also filed a supplemental memorandum in support of the Motion for Reconsideration, including several exhibits. Dkt. Nos. 77 (“Supplemental Memorandum”), 78 (“Supplemental Exhibits”). Defendants submitted a response to the Motion and the Supplemental Memorandum, Dkt. No. 79 (“Opposition”), and Brooks filed a reply, Dkt. No. 81 (“Reply”). For the following reasons, the Motion is denied.


         The Court assumes the parties' familiarity with the facts and history of this case and recites only those facts necessary to the resolution of the pending Motion. Brooks is involuntarily confined at Central New York Psychiatric Center (“CNYPC”), and he commenced this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging multiple constitutional violations arising out of his confinement. Compl. ¶ 38. Defendants filed three separate motions to dismiss, which addressed some, but not all, of Brooks's claims. Dkt. Nos. 42, 47, 60 (“Motions to Dismiss”). The March Order-which Brooks now asks the Court to reconsider-addressed two sets of claims: (1) Fourteenth Amendment due process claims against multiple defendants for unauthorized disclosure of Brooks's private medical records, and (2) First Amendment retaliation claims alleging that multiple defendants retaliated against Brooks after he filed a complaint under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”).[1] March Order at 6, 9. The Court dismissed Brooks's Fourteenth Amendment due process claims against all defendants, and it dismissed his First Amendment retaliation claims against all but one defendant. Id. at 8, 10, 12.

         On May 4, 2016, Brooks filed the present Motion for Reconsideration of the Court's March Order. Mot. Brooks does not specify the legal authority under which he moves for reconsideration, but under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b) federal district courts retain the right to reconsider an interlocutory order “at any time before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all the claims and all the parties' rights and liabilities.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b); see also Scott v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., 103 F.Supp.3d 542, 545 (S.D.N.Y. 2015) (“The district court . . . ‘is vested with the power to revisit its decisions before the entry of final judgment . . . .'” (quoting Transaero, Inc. v. La Fuerza Aerea Boliviana, 99 F.3d 538, 541 (2d Cir. 1996))). Because the March Order is interlocutory, Rule 54(b) is the only appropriate basis for reconsideration.

         In this district, Local Rule 7.1(g) sets the deadline to file a motion for reconsideration of an interlocutory order: “[A] party may file and serve a motion for reconsideration or reargument no later than FOURTEEN DAYS after the entry of the challenged judgment, order, or decree.” Here, Brooks's Motion was filed more than fourteen days after the March Order, and it is therefore untimely under Local Rule 7.1(g). Nevertheless, in light of Brooks's pro se status, the Court will consider the merits of the Motion.


         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). Thus, reconsideration “should not be granted where the moving party seeks solely to relitigate an issue already decided.” Id. Accordingly, a court should generally refrain from revising its earlier decisions “unless there is ‘an intervening change of controlling law, the availability of new evidence, or the need to correct a clear error or prevent a manifest injustice.'” Official Comm. of Unsecured Creditors of Color Tile, Inc. v. Coopers & Lybrand, LLP, 322 F.3d 147, 167 (2d Cir. 2003) (quoting Virgin Atl. Airways v. Nat'l Mediation Bd., 956 F.2d 1245, 1255 (2d Cir. 1992)).


         A. The Motion

         In his Motion, Brooks advances three different arguments for reconsideration: (1) the Court “erred by wrongly interpreting the facts [and] absolv[ing] the defendants of their misconduct, ” (2) the Court mistakenly ignored and dismissed Brooks's First Amendment retaliation claims, and (3) the Court failed to acknowledge Brooks's due process claim. Mot. at 2, 7, 17.

         Brooks's first argument refers to an incident on January 8, 2012, in which he was allegedly physically assaulted by CNYPC staff members. Compl. ¶ 42. In a January 13, 2015 Report-Recommendation reviewing the Complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), U.S. Magistrate Judge Randolph F. Treece recognized several potential claims arising out of the events that occurred on January 8, 2012. Dkt. No. 17 (“Report-Recommendation”) at 8-9. Specifically, Judge Treece found that the Complaint required a response to the following claims related to the January 8, 2012 incident[2]: excessive use of force as to defendants Allen, Kunz, Parrish, and Hollenbeck; failure to intervene and protect as to defendants Farnum and Creaser-Smith; retaliation against each of those defendants, as their actions may have been in response to Brooks's HIPAA complaint; and failure to train and supervise as to defendants Hogan, Nowicki, Gonzalez, and Sawyer (the “Supervisory Defendants”). Id. In the March Order, the Court dismissed all claims against the Supervisory Defendants and dismissed the retaliation claims against all Defendants, except for Allen. March Order at 12.

         Brooks appears to misunderstand the result of the March Order. He argues at length that defendants Allen and Creaser-Smith should not be “absolved of their misconduct” on January 8, 2012, Mot. at 4-7, but, as Defendants acknowledge in their Opposition, the majority of the claims against those defendants have not been dismissed, Opp'n at 2-3. In particular, excessive use of force claims as to defendants Allen, Kunz, Parrish, and Hollenbeck, and failure to intervene and protect claims as to defendants Farnum and Creaser-Smith, were not dismissed. To the ...

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