United States District Court, D. Maryland
WILLIAM EDWARD LOWRY, a.k.a. William Edward Lowery Plaintiff
DR. KIM JONES FEARING, et al. Defendants
XINIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
dismissal of Plaintiff William Lowry's claims for
monetary damages (ECF Nos. 22 & 23), plaintiff filed a
self-styled pleading entitled “Response
Memorandum” (ECF No. 24) in which he takes issue with
this Court's denial of leave to file a surreply and of
his request for a jury trial. The remainder of his pleading
addresses the validity of his involuntary commitment and the
treatment he has received. The pleading is construed as a
motion to alter or amend the Court's judgment pursuant to
Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
pending is Defendants' response to this Court's order
for further information concerning Lowry's exhaustion of
state remedies. ECF No. 25. In light of Defendants'
response, and for the reasons more fully set forth below,
Lowry's motion for reconsideration is denied. The
remaining claim asserted in the complaint, appropriately
construed as a petition for habeas corpus challenging his
confinement, is dismissed without prejudice.
Motion to Alter or Amend
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not provide for a
postjudgment motion for reconsideration. Katyle v. Penn
Nat'l Gaming, Inc., 637 F.3d 462, 470 n.4 (4th Cir.
2011). Rather, under Rule 59(e) a party may move to alter or
amend the judgment or under Rule 60(b), may move for relief
from judgment. “Reconsideration of a judgment after its
entry is an extraordinary remedy which should be used
sparingly.” Pacific Ins. Co. v. American Nat.
Fire Ins. Co., 148 F.3d 396, 403 (4th Cir.
1998) (citations omitted). The Fourth Circuit has recognized
three grounds for amending an earlier judgment: “(1) 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.” Id. Parties are not permitted,
however, to raise arguments that could have been raised
before the Court's decision. Further to the extent a
party relies on newly discovered evidence, the party
“must produce a ‘legitimate justification for not
presenting' the evidence during the earlier
proceeding.” Id. (citations and internal
quotation marks omitted). Lowry's motion is timely and
properly considered under Rule 59(e).
this Court ruled, in pertinent part, that:
Here, the evidence construed in the light most favorable to
Lowry supports the propriety of his continued commitment and
the lack of actionable infirmities in the related commitment
proceedings and treatment that he received. Lowry's
belief that his symptoms worsened because he was prescribed
medication appears to be a part of the illness he suffers.
Even the evidence Lowry presents in support of his complaint
establishes that the key to managing Lowry's mental
illness is through prescribed medication. See ECF
No. 17-1 at p. 17 (Dr. Holt noting that Lowry's
compliance with psychotropic medication has eliminated
symptoms of schizophrenia). Accordingly, Lowry's claim
for monetary damages in connection with his commitment
proceedings and related treatment must fail.
To the extent that Lowry claims that he is no longer in need
of required continued hospitalization, ample evidence
demonstrates that the professional judgment of those charged
with his care support his continued commitment. Put
differently, nothing presented in this case suggests that
Lowry's hospitalization and continuing course of care has
fallen so far below a professional standard as to be
arbitrary and unprofessional. See Patten, 274 F.3d
at 843. Defendants are entitled to summary judgment on the
claim for monetary damages.
To the extent that Lowry's claim is a challenge to the
validity of his continued confinement going forward, it is
properly reviewable as a petition for habeas corpus. Pretrial
federal habeas relief is available under 28 U.S.C. §
2241 if the petitioner is in custody, has exhausted state
court remedies, and special circumstances exist that justify
intervention by the federal court. See Dickerson v.
Louisiana, 816 F.2d 220, 224-26 (5th Cir. 1987).
Exhaustion is established where both the operative facts and
controlling legal principles of each claim have been fairly
presented to the state courts. See Baker v.
Corcoran, 220 F.3d 276, 289 (4th Cir. 2000) (citations
omitted). In the pretrial context, federal courts must
abstain from exercising jurisdiction over a claim that may be
resolved through trial of the merits or by other state
procedures available for review of the claim. See Braden
v. 30th Judicial Circuit Court, 410 U.S. 484, 489-90
The Court cannot discern from this record whether Lowry has
exhausted his state remedies. Lowry, as a detainee committed
to a mental health facility, maintains the right under
Maryland law to file a petition for release in state circuit
court located in the county where he resides, where he
resided before admission to the facility, or where the
facility is located. See Md. Code Ann., Health-Gen.
§ 10-805(a) and (b). Denial of an application for
release may be appealed. See id., § 10-805(h).
However, the Court is unable to conclude whether Lowry is
currently represented by counsel, has access to the
appropriate state court for review of his continued
involuntary commitment, or has availed himself of those
remedies. Accordingly, this court will require counsel for
defendants to file a status report on the issue of
exhaustion. Upon receipt of that information, the court will
determine whether Lowry's claim regarding the legality of
his confinement may be heard or is subject to dismissal
without prejudice for failure to exhaust state remedies.
ECF 22 at p.9-10 (footnote omitted).
now argues that he “presented solid evidence supporting
his claim of medical malpractice;” he was put into a
“hostile environment” in violation of his
Fourteenth Amendment rights; he was harmed when his
medication was changed; he possesses “viable evidence
supporting his innocence of any existing charge;” an
independent doctor has examined him and found that Lowry
presents no danger or threat to himself or others and is
competent to stand trial; his “motion for summary
judgment was superceeded (sic) by a request for a jury
trial;” and this Court erred when it did not allow him
to file a surreply. ECF No. 24 at pp. 4 -5. Lowry's
motion amounts to a “disagreement with the Court's
decision, ” and, as such, does not provide sufficient
justification to alter or amend the Court's judgment
under Rule 59(e). Hutchinson v. Staton, 994 F.2d
1076, 1082 (4th Cir. 1993).
respect to Lowry's assertion that this Court erred
procedurally when it denied his request for a jury trial and
his request to file a surreply, the allegation is without
merit. A jury trial is unwarranted where, as here, no genuine
dispute of material fact exists for a jury to resolve.
See Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens Football Club, Inc.,
346 F.3d 514, 526 (4th Cir. 2003) (factually unsupported
claims may not proceed to trial). As to Plaintiff's
surreply, no party is entitled to file a surreply unless
otherwise ordered by the Court. See Local Rule
105.2(a) (D. Md. 2016). A surreply is most often permitted
when the moving party must respond to matters raised for the
first time in a reply. See Lewis v. Rumsfeld, 154
F.Supp.2d 56, 61 (D. D.C. 2001). Defendants in this case did
not present any new matters in their reply (ECF No. 13), and
Lowry does not allege the contrary. What is more, the Court had
considered Lowry's supplemental pleadings submitted in
connection with his response. (ECF Nos. 14, 17). The motion
to file a surreply was properly denied under these
Defendants' Status ...