United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
DIANA C. BERRIOS Plaintiff,
GREEN WIRELESS, LLC, et al. Defendants.
J. HAZEL United States District Judge
pending before the Court is Plaintiff Diana C. Berrios'
Motion to Vacate and Reinstate. ECI No. 40. requesting that
the Court re-open the above-referenced case and allow her
claims against two previously dismissed defendants. Green
Wireless. LLC. ("Green Wireless") and Michael Pak.
to proceed. For the following reasons. Plaintiffs motion is
complete discussion of the factual and procedural background
of this case can be found in the Court's prior opinions.
See Berrios v. Green Wireless, LLC, No. GJH-14-3655.
2016 WL 1562902 (D. Md. Apr. 18. 2016) (hereinafter.
"Consent Judgment Opinion") and
Berrios v. Green Wireless, LLC, No. GJH-14-3655.
2016 WL 7451297 (D. Md. Dec. 27. 2016) (hereinafter,
"Attorney's Fees Opinion)), Thus. the Court
will only discuss the tactual and procedural details
necessary to resolve the present motion.
tiled the Complaint against her employers Green Wireless, a
cell phone and cell phone plan provider: Shin. the owner and
manager; and Pak. the co-manage.. LCF No. 29 at
The Complaint alleged a failure to pay her overtime wages, in
violation of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act
("FLSA"., 29 U.S.C § 201 et seq., and
Maryland state laws, Id. at 1. On October 22, 2015.
a Motion for Default Judgment was filed as to all Defendants.
ECF No. 18. On April 18, 2016, the Court approved a consent
judgment between Plaintiff and Shin. ECF No. 29. In the same
opinion, the Court stated that "it is unclear whether,
in light of the settlement with Mr. Shin. Plaintiff intends
to seek additional damages from Green Wireless or Mr.
Pak." Id. at 6. Thus, the Court denied
Plaintiffs Motion for Default Judgment as to Defendants Pak
and Green Wireless without prejudice, explaining that
Plaintiff "may refile her motion against the remaining
defendants within fourteen days of the accompanying
did not refile the motion. Instead, in a footnote in her
subsequent Motion for Attorney's Fees. Plaintiff stated
her intention to dismiss the remaining defendants "if
this judgment [against Defendant Shin], along with any
modification for attorney fees, is fully satisfied." ECF
No. 31 at 1. Plaintiff further stated that "in the event
that this judgment is not paid. Plaintiff intends to
prosecute her claims as to the two remaining
defendants." Id. On July 7, 2016. Plaintiff
requested that the Clerk "mark the judgment of $3,
000.00 as having been paid" but noting that because
Plaintiffs Motion for Attorney's Fees was still pending.
Plaintiffs claim for attorney's fees and cost had not
been satisfied. ECF No. 34.
December 27, 2016. the Court awarded Plaintiff $16, 4100.00
in attorney's fees and costs. Attorney's Fees
Opinion, 2016 WL 745129.. at *5. In that same opinion,
the Court dismissed the remaining claims against Defendants
Pak and Green Wireless, noting that "the Plaintiff
previously stated its intent to dismiss the remaining
defendants upon the satisfaction of the judgment awarded
against Defendant Shin...[and] [a]s that judgment has been
satisfied...the remaining claims arc dismissed"
Id. On January 3. 2017. Defendant Shin appealed the
Attorneys Fees Opinion to the United States Court of
Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. ECF No, 37. On January 5.
2017. Plaintiff filed a Motion to Vacate and Reinstate.
requesting that the Court re-open the case and allow her
previously dismissed claims against Defendants Pak and Green
Wireless to proceed. ECF No. 40.
moves for the Court to vacate its December 27, 2016 order
dismissing Defendants Pak and Green Wireless, pursuant to
either Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) or 60(b), No
responses have been filed by any of the Defendants in
opposition to this motion.
threshold matter. the Court must determine whether or not it
has jurisdiction to hear this issue because its prior opinion
in this case. the Attorney's Fees Opinion, is on
appeal to the Fourth Circuit. “Generally, a timely
filed notice of appeal transfers jurisdiction of a case to
the court of appeals and strips a district court of
jurisdiction to rule on any matters involved in the
appeal." Doe v. Pub, Citizen, 749 F.3d 246. 258
(4th Cir. 2014) (citing Griggs v. Provident Consumer
Disc, Co., 459 U.S. 56. 58(1982)) (per curiam).
"This rule fosters judicial economy and guards against
the confusion and inefficiency that would result if two
courts simultaneously were considering the same issues."
Id. (citation omitted). However. .the rule only
applies to prevent a trial court from taking actions that
might duplicate or confuse issues before the appellate
court." Crutchfield v. U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers, 230 F.Supp.2d 673. 680 (E.D. Va. 2002). The
following issues are on appeal: "(1) Did the District
Court abuse its discretion in declining to apply all of the
Johnson factors when determining the reasonableness
of expended hours and charged rates? [and] (2) Did the
District Court abuse its discretion in finding that the
Appellee Diana Berrios was entitled to attorneys' lees
and costs of $16.441.00 against Appellant Michael Shin?"
Brief for Appellant at 7. Berrios v. Shin,
No. 17-1008 (4th Cir. Mar. 1, 2017). Thus. nothing that this
Court decides with respect to the claims against the
remaining Defendants. Green Wireless and Pak. would duplicate
or confuse issues before the Fourth Circuit.
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not expressly recognize
motions tor reconsideration. Instead. Rule 59(e) authorizes a
district court to alter, amend, or vacate a prior judgment,
and Rule 60 provides for relief from judgment. See Katyle
v. Penn Nat'l Gaming, Inc., 637 F.3d 462. 471 n. 4
(4th Cir. 2011). "A motion to alter or amend filed
within 28 days of the judgment is analyzed under Rule 59(e):
if the motion is tiled later. Rule 60(b) controls."
Cross v. Fleet Reserve Ass'n Pension Plan, No.
05-0001. 2010 WL 3609530. at *2 (D. Md. Sept. 14. 2010).
Here. Plaintiff tiled her motion nine days after the entry of
judgment. Thus. while Plaintiff purports to bring her motion
under both rules. the Court will analyze her claim under the
framework of Rule 59(c).
59(e) allows a party to tile a motion to alter or amend a
judgment no later than 28 days after the entry of the
judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e): see also Ford v. United
States. No. GJH-11-3039. 2016 WL 3430673. at *1 (D. Md.
Mar. 16.2016.. One purpose of Rule 59(e) is to "permit
a district court to correct its own errors. 'sparing the
parties and the appellate courts the burden of unnecessary
appellate proceedings.”” Pac. Ins. Co. v. Am.
Nat. Fire Ins. Co., 148 F, 3d 396.403 (4th Cir. 19(8).
However, the Fourth Circuit recognizes only three grounds on
which a court may alter or amend an earlier judgment:
"(I) to accommodate an intervening change in controlling
law; (2) to account for new evidence not available at trial:
or (3) to correct a clear error of law or prevent manifest
injustice." United States ex ref. Becker v.
Westinghouse Savannah River Co., 305 F.3d 284. 290 (4th
Cir. 2002) (citing Pac. Ins. Co. v. Am. Nat'l
Fire Ins. Co., 148 F.3d 396.403 (4th Cir.
1998)). "Clear error or manifest injustice occurs where
a court 'has patently misunderstood a party. or has made
a decision outside the adversarial issues presented to the
Court by the parties. or has made an error not of reasoning
but of apprehension ...””Wagner v.
Warden. No. EL] I-14-791. 2016 WL 1169937. at *3 (D. Md.
Mar. 24. 2(16} (quoting King v. McFadden, No.
1:14-cv-00091-JMC, 2015 WL 4937292. at *2 (D.S.C. Aug.
Plaintiff requests that the Court vacate its prior judgment
because "the Courts rationale for dismissing Plaintiffs
claims against Green Wireless and Michael Pak [was] premised
on an incomplete reading of Plaintiffs Fee Petition."
ECF No. 40 at 3. In their Motion for Attorney's Fees.
Plaintiff stated their intention to dismiss the remaining
defendants "if this judgment [against Defendant Shin],
along with any modification for attorney fees. is fully
satisfied'" ECF No. 31 at I (emphasis added). In its
prior opinion, the Court. observing that the $3, 000.00
judgment had been satisfied, dismissed the remaining claims
against Defendants Pak and Green Wireless. Attorney's
Fees Opinion, 2016 WL 7451297. at *5. Therefore.
Plaintiff is correct that the Court misunderstood Plaintiffs
intentions and failed to recognize that Plaintiff intended to
dismiss the remaining claims only after judgment had
also been satisfied as to the attorneys fees.
Court's underlying decision regarding attorney's fees
is still under appeal. judgment has not been fully satisfied
against Defendant Shin. Thus. the Court finds that it was
clear error to dismiss the claims against Defendants Green
Wireless and Pak. Furthermore, the Court notes that
Plaintiffs Motion has been made without objection by any of
the Defendants. Thus. the ...