Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Chae Bros LLC. v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore

United States District Court, D. Maryland

March 5, 2019

CHAE BROS., LLC, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
MAYOR & CITY COUNCIL OF BALTIMORE, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          George L. Russell, III United States District Judge

         THIS 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.

         I. BACKGROUND [1]

         On 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claim because the Riot Act permits an injured party to recover “actual damages sustained” and because the LGTCA only repealed local government enactments that were inconsistent with its provisions.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).

         On 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).

         II. DISCUSSION

         As a 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.

         In 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.

         In this 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 60(b)).

         Further, 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.

         The 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) controls. Id.

         Here, 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.

         A 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)).

         The 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. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.