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Price v. City of New York

United States District Court, S.D. New York

April 21, 2017

KELLY PRICE, Plaintiff,



         This Opinion and Order resolves Plaintiff Kelly Price's motions to reconsider and to amend her complaint. Plaintiff filed this action pro se on July 24, 2015. On December 2, 2016, the Court granted Plaintiff leave to file a fourth amended complaint (“FAC”) for the limited purpose of naming Inspector Olufunmilo F. Obe and Selvena Brooks (together with the City of New York, the “City Defendants”) as defendants who allegedly blocked Plaintiff from viewing or posting replies to two Twitter accounts administered by the City of New York, namely, the account for the New York City Police Department's (“NYPD”) 28th Precinct, @NYPD28PCT, and the account for the Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence, @NYCAgainstAbuse. (Dkt. #30 at 13-14). On January 3, 2017, Plaintiff filed a FAC that was not compliant with the Court's December 2 order. (Dkt. #41). Among other deficiencies, the FAC failed to name Obe and Brooks as defendants, reasserted claims that the Court had previously dismissed, and contained additional facts in support of other claims. (Id.). Because Plaintiff failed to comply with the Court's December 2 Order, on January 11, 2017, the Court struck the FAC, deemed the third amended complaint (“TAC”) to be the operative pleading, and added Obe and Brooks as defendants under Rule 21 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Dkt. #45).

         By letter dated January 26, 2017, the City Defendants requested a pre-motion conference concerning their anticipated motion to dismiss certain claims in the TAC. (Dkt. #46). That same day, Plaintiff submitted a motion for reconsideration of the January 3 Order that struck the FAC (Dkt. #47), and on February 28, 2017, the City Defendants filed an opposition to Plaintiff's motion (Dkt. #55). The Court thereafter held a conference on March 15, 2017, at which the parties discussed both the anticipated motion to dismiss and the motion for reconsideration.

         Having considered carefully the parties' submissions and the arguments made at the March 15 conference, and mindful of its obligation to construe a pro se plaintiff's submissions liberally, see Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101 (2d Cir. 2010), the Court construed Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration as a hybrid motion for reconsideration and motion to amend the TAC. (Dkt. #58). In an Order issued on April 4, 2017 (the “April 4 Order”), the Court directed the City Defendants to submit letter briefs addressing the issue of whether Plaintiff should be granted leave to file an amended pleading that limited Plaintiff to the claims discussed in that Order. (Id.).

         On April 14, 2017, the City Defendants filed their letter opposing Plaintiff's motion to amend. (Dkt. #61). Also in response to the Court's directive, former Defendants District Attorney of New York County Cyrus Vance, the New York County District Attorney's Office (“DANY”), and various employees of that Office (together, the “Former DANY Defendants”) filed a letter opposing Plaintiff's motion on April 18, 2017. (Dkt. #64). For the reasons outlined below, Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration is granted in part and denied in part. Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend the TAC is granted in part and denied in part.


         A. Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration Is Granted in Part and Denied in Part

         1. Applicable Law

         The Court liberally construes Plaintiff's submission as a motion under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) to alter or amend judgment and a motion under Local Civil Rule 6.3 for reconsideration, and, in the alternative, as a motion under Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b) for relief from a judgment or order. See Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006); see also Tracy, 623 F.3d at 101 (observing that the solicitude afforded to pro se litigants takes a variety of forms, including liberal construction of papers, “relaxation of the limitations on the amendment of pleadings, ” leniency in the enforcement of other procedural rules, and “deliberate, continuing efforts to ensure that a pro se litigant understands what is required of [her]” (citations omitted)).

         The standards governing Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) and Local Civil Rule 6.3 are the same. R.F.M.A.S., Inc. v. Mimi So, 640 F.Supp.2d 506, 509 (S.D.N.Y. 2009). The movant must demonstrate that the Court overlooked “controlling law or factual matters” that had been previously put before it. Id. (discussion in the context of both Local Civil Rule 6.3 and Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e)); see Padilla v. Maersk Line, Ltd., 636 F.Supp.2d 256, 258-59 (S.D.N.Y. 2009). “Such motions must be narrowly construed and strictly applied in order to discourage litigants from making repetitive arguments on issues that have been thoroughly considered by the court.” Range Road Music, Inc. v. Music Sales Corp., 90 F.Supp.2d 390, 391-92 (S.D.N.Y. 2000); see also SimplexGrinnell LP v. Integrated Sys. & Power, Inc., 642 F.Supp.2d 206, 210 (S.D.N.Y. 2009) (“A motion for reconsideration is not an invitation to 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 ruling.'” (internal citations omitted)). 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.” See Shrader v. CSX Transp., Inc., 70 F.3d 255, 257 (2d Cir. 1995); id. (“[A] motion to reconsider should not be granted where the moving party seeks solely to relitigate an issue already decided.”).

         2. Analysis

         With regard to the majority of Plaintiff's claims in the stricken FAC, the Court finds that Plaintiff seeks only to relitigate issues already decided by this Court and Judge Preska. As indicated in the April 4 Order, therefore, the Court will only reconsider its decision to dismiss the TAC insofar as it applies to Plaintiff's (i) § 1983 claim under the First Amendment, against the City, Obe, and Brooks, related to their alleged blocking of Plaintiff from viewing two City-run Twitter accounts; (ii) § 1983 claim under the Fourth Amendment, against the City, John Doe, and Jane Doe, related to their alleged false arrest; (iii) § 1983 malicious prosecution claim under the Fourth Amendment, against the City and Det. Simmons, related to the prosecution that allegedly terminated in Plaintiff's favor on September 9, 2016; (iv) § 1983 substantive due process claims under the Fourteenth Amendment, related to Plaintiff's allegations of denial of services at the Family Justice Center and the Midtown North Precinct in 2015, along with her new allegations concerning District Attorney Vance, Raheem Powell, and the 137th Street Crew; (v) § 1983 claims under the First Amendment, against the City and Pierre-Louis, related to Pierre-Louis's alleged blocking of Plaintiff from viewing and posting replies to the @RPLNYC Twitter feed, as supplemented by statements made by Plaintiff at the March 15 conference; and (vi) claims related to incidents that allegedly occurred on November 17, 2016, and January 24, 2017, as described in Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration and at the March 15 conference. (Dkt. #58). Plaintiff's motion to reconsider these claims is granted because Plaintiff has provided the Court with new evidence and arguments previously unavailable or overlooked. Plaintiff's motion to reconsider is denied as it applies to the rest of Plaintiff's FAC claims.

         B. Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend Is Granted in ...

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