United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. Hollander United States District Judge.
Memorandum addresses Plaintiff Nathaniel C.'s Motion for
Reconsideration. ECF 21; see ECF 22 (order
construing plaintiff's filing of ECF 21 as a motion for
reconsideration). A hearing is not necessary. See
Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons that follow, I shall deny
the Motion for Reconsideration.
September 24, 2018, Judge Gallagher entered her Report and
Recommendations (ECF 19), recommending that the Court deny
plaintiff's motion for summary judgment (ECF 16), grant
the Social Security Administration's motion for summary
judgment (ECF 17), and close the case. The Report and
Recommendations advised that any objections were due within
14 days of the report. See ECF 19. No written
objection was filed within 14 days of the report.
Order of October 16, 2018, I adopted the Report and
Recommendations. ECF 20. That same day, the Clerk closed the
case. On October 23, 2018. the Clerk docketed Plaintiff's
written objections to the Report and Recommendations, dated
October 19, 2018. ECF 21. Thereafter, on October 23, 2018, I
entered an Order, explaining that plaintiff's filing
would be considered a Motion for Reconsideration. The Social
Security Administration (“SSA”) responded on
November 5, 2018. ECF 23. On January 31, 2019, the SSA
docketed returned mail, indicating that plaintiff had not
received the response. ECF 24. Accordingly, I entered an
Order directing plaintiff to verify his current mailing
address (ECF 25), to which plaintiff responded. ECF 26. By
Order of February 13, 2019, I afforded plaintiff twenty-one
days to file a reply to the SSA's response. ECF 27. On
March 7, 2019, plaintiff filed his reply. ECF 28.
Standard of Review
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not contain an express
provision for a “motion for reconsideration” of a
final judgment. Katyle v. Penn Nat'l Gaming,
Inc., 637 F.3d 462, 470 n.4 (4th Cir. 2011), cert.
denied, 565 U.S. 825 (2011). But, to avoid elevating
form over substance, a motion to reconsider may be construed
as a motion to alter or amend judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P.
59(e), or a motion for relief from judgment under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b). MLC Auto., LLC v. Town of S.
Pines, 532 F.3d 269, 278-80 (4th Cir. 2008).
Civ. P. 59(e) is captioned “Motion to Alter or Amend a
Judgment.” It states: “A motion to alter or amend
a judgment must be filed no later than 28 days after the
entry of the judgment.” A district court may amend a
judgment under Rule 59(e), inter alia, to
“prevent manifest injustice.” Hutchinson v.
Staton, 994 F.2d 1076, 1081 (4th Cir. 2002).
motion filed outside the 28-day window set forth in Rule
59(e) is considered under Rule 60, captioned “Relief
from a Judgment or Order.” See In re Burnley,
988 F.2d 1, 2-4 (4th Cir. 1992) (construing untimely Rule
59(e) motion as a Rule 60(b) motion). Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b) sets
forth a variety of grounds for relief from a final judgment
or order. It permits a party to file a motion to
“relieve [the] party . . . from a final judgment”
for “any . . . reason that justifies relief, ”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(6), as well as other enumerated reasons.
See Liljeberg v. Heath Serv. Acquisition Corp., 486
U.S. 847, 863 (1988) (noting that 28 U.S.C. § 455
“does not, on its own, authorize the reopening of
closed litigation” but that Rule 60(b) “provides
a procedure whereby, in appropriate cases, a party may be
relieved of a final judgment.”).
timing of the filing of the motion is the key factor in
ascertaining which rule applies. The Fourth Circuit has said
that “a motion filed under both Rule 59(e) and Rule
60(b) should be analyzed only under Rule 59(e) if it was
filed no later than  days after entry of the adverse
judgment and seeks to correct that judgment.”
Robinson v. Wix Filtration Corp. LLC, 599 F.3d 403,
412 (4th Cir. 2010) (citing Small v. Hunt, 98 F.3d
789, 797 (4th Cir. 1996)); see In re Burnley, 988
F.2d at 2-3; Lewis v. McCabe, Weisberg & Conway,
LLC, No. DKC 13-1561, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42988, 2015
WL 1522840, at *1 (D. Md. Apr. 1, 2015). Plaintiff's
Motion to Reconsider was filed on October 23, 2018 (ECF 21),
within twenty-eight days of the filing of the Order on
October 16, 2018 (ECF 20). Therefore, Rule 59(e) applies
the plain language of Rule 59(e) does not provide a
particular standard by which a district court should evaluate
a motion to alter or amend judgment, the Fourth Circuit has
clarified: “Our case law makes clear [ ] that Rule
59(e) motions can be successful in only three situations: (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.” Zinkand v. Brown, 478 F.3d 634,
637 (4th Cir. 2007) (internal quotations omitted); see
Ingle ex rel. Estate of Ingle v. Yelton, 439 F.3d 191,
197 (4th Cir. 2006); U.S. ex rel. Becker v. Westinghouse
Savannah River Co., 305 F.3d 284, 290 (4th Cir. 2002),
cert. denied, 538 U.S. 1012 (2003); E.E.O.C. v.
Lockheed Martin Corp., Aero & Naval Sys., 116 F.3d
110, 112 (4th Cir. 1997).
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. 1998) (quoting
Russell v. Delco Remy Div. of Gen. Motors
Corp., 51 F.3d 746, 749 (7th Cir. 1995)), cert.
denied, 525 U.S. 1104 (1999). But, the Fourth Circuit
has cautioned that a party may not use a Rule 59(e) motion to
“raise arguments which could have been raised prior to
the issuance of the judgment, ” or to “argue a
case under a novel legal theory that the party had the
ability to address in the first instance.”
Id.; see also Nat'l Ecol. Found. v.
Alexander, 496 F.3d 466, 477 (6th Cir. 2007)
(“Rule 59(e) motions are ‘aimed at
reconsideration, not initial consideration.'”)
(citation omitted). Moreover, “[a] motion under Rule
59(e) is not authorized ‘to enable a party to complete
presenting his case after the court has ruled against
him.'” Matter of Reese, 91 F.3d 37, 39
(7th Cir. 1996) (quoting Frietsch v. Refco, Inc., 56
F.3d 825, 828 (7th Cir. 1995)); see 11 Charles Alan
Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure
§ 2810.1 at 171 (3d ed. 2012) (“Wright &
Miller”) (“In practice, because of the narrow
purposes for which they are intended, Rule 59(e) motions
typically are denied.”).
“[m]ere disagreement [with a court's ruling] does
not support a Rule 59(e) motion.” Hutchinson,
994 F.2d at 1082; see United States ex rel. Becker,
305 F.3d at 290. Indeed, “‘reconsideration of a
judgment after its entry is an extraordinary remedy which
should be used sparingly.'” Pac. Ins. Co.,
148 F.3d at 403 (citation omitted); see also 11
Wright & Miller § 2810.1 at 156-57 (noting the