United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. Russell, III United States District Judge
MATTER is before the Court on Defendant Mayor and City
Council of Baltimore's (the “Mayor and City
Council”) Motion for Reconsideration and Request that
the Court Certify Questions of Law to the Court of Appeals of
Maryland (ECF No. 91). The Motion is ripe for disposition,
and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6
(D.Md. 2018). For the reasons outlined below, the Court will
deny the Motion.
April 13, 2018, the Mayor and City Council filed a Motion for
a Declaratory Judgment Regarding the Damage Cap
(“Motion for Declaratory Judgment”), seeking a
declaration that the Local Government Tort Claims Act's
(the “LGTCA”) damages cap, Md. Code Ann., Cts.
& Jud. Proc. [“CJP”] § 5-303(a)(1) (West
2016), applies to Plaintiffs' Maryland Riot Act (the
“Riot Act”), Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety
§§ 14-1001 et seq. (West 2018), claims.
(ECF No. 58). On December 18, 2018, the Court denied the
Mayor and City Council's Motion. (ECF Nos. 87, 88). The
Court concluded that the LGTCA damages cap did not apply to
Plaintiffs' Riot Act claim because the Riot Act permits
an injured party to recover “actual damages
sustained” and because the LGTCA only repealed local
government enactments that were inconsistent with its
provisions. (Dec. 18, 2018 Mem. Op. at 6-7, ECF No. 87).
January 2, 2019, the Mayor and City Council filed their
Motion for Reconsideration and Request that the Court Certify
Questions of Law to the Court of Appeals of Maryland. (ECF
No. 91). Plaintiffs filed their Opposition on January 16,
2019. (ECF No. 92). On January 18, 2019, the Mayor and City
Council filed their Reply. (ECF No. 95).
threshold matter the parties dispute the appropriate standard
of review. The Mayor and City Council contend that, as an
interlocutory order, the standards that govern final
judgments do not apply. Rather, the standard from
American Canoe Ass'n v. Murphy Farms, Inc., 326
F.3d 505, 513-14 (4th Cir. 2003), regarding the evaluation of
interlocutory orders is appropriate. Plaintiffs argue that
American Canoe does not apply because the movant in
that case did not invoke the Court's jurisdiction under
the Declaratory Judgement Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201 (2018).
The Court agrees with Plaintiffs.
American Canoe, the United States Court of Appeals
for the Fourth Circuit explained that “[m]otions for
reconsideration of interlocutory orders are not subject to
the strict standards applicable to motions for
reconsideration of a final judgment” because district
courts “retain[ ] the power to reconsider and modify
[their] interlocutory judgments . . . at any time prior to
final judgment.” 326 F.3d at 514-15. But “[t]rue
declaratory judgments, like other final orders, trigger
heightened standards for reconsideration.” Id.
at 514 (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) and 60(b)). The Fourth
Circuit noted that although the district court called its
order a “declaratory judgment, ” it was more
properly construed as a grant of partial summary judgment
because the plaintiff “did not at any time invoke the
court's jurisdiction pursuant to the Declaratory Judgment
Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201.” Id. As a result,
the Fourth Circuit considered the district court's grant
of partial summary judgment “interlocutory in nature,
” and therefore applied the more relaxed standard for
reconsideration of interlocutory orders, which permits a
court, in its discretion, to reconsider any nonfinal order.
Id. at 514-15.
case, by contrast, the Mayor and City Council brought their
Motion under the Declaratory Judgment Act. (Mot. Decl. J. at
1, ECF No. 58). A declaratory judgment has “the force
and effect of a final judgment or decree and shall be
reviewable as such.” Auto-Owners Ins. Co. v.
Potter, 242 Fed.Appx. 94, 100 (4th Cir. 2007) (quoting
28 U.S.C. § 2201(a)). The Court, therefore, concludes
that its Order denying the Mayor and City Council's
Motion for Declaratory Judgment is subject to the standards
of review that govern final judgments. See Am.
Canoe, 326 F.3d at 514 (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) and
as a final judgment under the Declaratory Judgment Act, this
Court's Order is appealable. See In re Grand Jury
Proceedings, 802 F.3d 57, 65 (1st Cir. 2015) (concluding
that the appeals court had jurisdiction over a declaratory
order under 28 U.S.C. § 2201 because it is a
“final judgment”); Southworth v. Grebe,
124 F.3d 205, 1997 WL 411225, at *3 (7th Cir. 1997) (table)
(“[I]f a plaintiff requests only declaratory relief and
a court rules on that request, the decision is final and
appealable.”). Under Rule 62(d), a party may seek a
stay pending appeal of a declaratory order. Auto-Owners
Ins. Co., 242 Fed.Appx. at 100.
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure include two Rules that
permit a party to move for reconsideration of a final
judgment-Rules 59(e) and 60(b). See Fayetteville
Inv'rs v. Commercial Builders, Inc., 936 F.2d 1462,
1469 (4th Cir. 1991). Rule 59(e) controls when a party files
a motion to alter or amend within twenty-eight days of the
final judgment. Bolden v. McCabe, Weisberg & Conway,
LLC., No. DKC 13-1265, 2014 WL 994066, at *1 n.1 (D.Md.
Mar. 13, 2014). If a party files the motion later, Rule 60(b)
the Court entered its Order on December 18, 2018. The Mayor
and City Council filed their Motion on January 2,
2019-fifteen days later. Accordingly, Rule 59(e) controls.
district court may only alter or amend a final judgment under
Rule 59(e) in three circumstances: “(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.”
United States ex rel. Carter v. Halliburton Co., 866
F.3d 199, 210 (4th Cir. 2017) (citing Zinkand v.
Brown, 478 F.3d 634, 637 (4th Cir. 2007)). A Rule 59(e)
amendment is “an extraordinary remedy which should be
used sparingly.” Pac. Ins. Co. v. Am. Nat'l
Fire Ins. Co., 148 F.3d 396, 403 (4th Cir. 1998)
(quoting Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller,
Federal Practice and Procedure § 2810.1, at 124
(2d ed. 1995)).
Court properly denies a motion for reconsideration when none
of the three circumstances are present. Jefferson v.
Nat'l R.R. Passenger Corp., No. DKC 15-2275, 2015 WL
9311987, at *1 (D.Md. Dec. 23, 2015). Furthermore, “[a]
motion for reconsideration is ‘not the proper place to
relitigate a case after the court has ruled against a
party.'” Lynn v. Monarch Recovery Mgmt.,
Inc., 953 F.Supp.2d 612, 620 (D.Md. ...