United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
W. Grimm United States District Judge
comprehensive Memorandum Opinion and Order issued February
21, 2019 in this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action, I granted
summary judgment in favor of some defendants and denied
summary judgment to Defendants Melanie Griffin (who
subsequently filed an answer), Correctional Officer
Christopher Cavins, and Sergeant John Muncey. ECF Nos. 37
& 38. Cavins and Muncey promptly filed a Motion
for Reconsideration. ECF No. 47. Because they have not shown
any grounds for reconsideration, however, their motion is
denied for the reasons stated in the Memorandum Opinion and
Order signed February 21, 2019. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
54(b) governs motions for reconsideration of non-final
orders, such as the February 21, 2019 Memorandum Opinion and
Order granting summary judgment in part and denying it in
part. See Fayetteville Investors v. Commercial Builders,
Inc., 936 F.2d 1462, 1472 (4th Cir. 1991). It provides
that such an order “may be revised at any time before
the entry of a judgment adjudicating all the claims and all
the parties' rights and liabilities.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
Fourth Circuit has not stated a standard for review of a Rule
54(b) motion, but it has said that, “generally at
least, a review of an interlocutory order under Rule 54 is
not subject to the restrictive standards of motions for
reconsideration of final judgments under Rule 60.”
Fayetteville Investors, 936 F.2d at 1472; see
also Am. Canoe Ass'n v. Murphy Farms, Inc., 326 F.3d
505, 514 (4th Cir. 2003). Nor is the standard for Rule 59(e)
binding on review under Rule 54. See Am. Canoe
Ass'n, 326 F.3d at 514; Cezair v. JPMorgan Chase
Bank, N.A., No. DKC-13-2928, 2014 WL 4955535, at *1 (D.
Md. Sept. 30, 2014). Nonetheless, “courts frequently
look to these standards for guidance in considering such
motions.” Cezair, 2014 WL 4955535, at *1;
see also Peters v. City of Mt. Rainier, No.
GJH-14-955, 2014 WL 4855032, at *3 n.1 (D. Md. Sept. 29,
2014) (looking to Rule 60(b) standard); Harper v. Anchor
Packing. Co., No. GLR-12-460, 2014 WL 3828387, at *1 (D.
Md. Aug. 1, 2014) (looking to Rule 59(e) standard);
Potter v. Potter, 199 F.R.D. 550, 552 n.1 (D. Md.
2001) (applying Rule 59(e) standard). A Rule 59(e) motion
“need not be granted unless the district court finds
that there has been an intervening change of controlling law,
that new evidence has become available, or that there is a
need to correct a clear error or prevent manifest
injustice.” Robinson v. Wix Filtration Corp.
LLC, 599 F.3d 403, 411 (4th Cir. 2010). Rule 60(b)
provides overlapping, but broader, bases for relief from a
court order, including that there has been “mistake,
inadvertence, surprise, . . . excusable neglect[, ] . . .
newly discovered evidence[, ] . . . fraud . . .,
misrepresentation, or misconduct”; that “the
judgment is void” or “has been satisfied”;
or “any other reason that justifies relief.”
keeping with these standards, this Court has held that
“[a] motion for reconsideration is appropriate to
‘correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present
newly discovered evidence,' or where there has been an
intervening change in controlling law.”
Potter, 199 F.R.D. at 552 n.1 (citations omitted).
Notably, it “is not a license for a losing party's
attorney to get a second bite at the apple.”
Id. at 552-53 (quoting Shields v. Shetler,
120 F.R.D. 123, 126 (D. Co. 1988)). Thus, a filing a motion
for reconsideration does not afford a party the opportunity
“to relitigate a case after the court has ruled against
[it].” Chae Bros., LLC v. Mayor & City Council
of Baltimore, No. GJH-17-1657, 2019 WL 1040434, at *2
(D. Md. Mar. 5, 2019) (quoting Lynn v. Monarch Recovery
Mgmt., Inc., 953 F.Supp.2d 612, 620 (D. Md. 2013)).
These “rules of constraint . . . make sense when a
district court is asked to reconsider its own order”
because “‘[w]ere it otherwise, then there would
be no conclusion to motions practice, each motion becoming
nothing more than the latest installment in a potentially
endless serial that would exhaust the resources of the
parties and the court-not to mention its patience.”
Pinney v. Nokia, Inc., 402 F.3d 430, 452-53 (4th
Cir. 2005) (quoting Potter, 199 F.R.D. at 553).
insist that they “did not breach their duty, let alone
act with deliberate indifference in upholding their duty to
keep Plaintiff reasonably safe from substantial bodily
harm.” Defs.' Mot. 2. Asserting that
“[p]rison officials' duties to inmates does [sic]
not require investigating baseless allegations” and
that “[p]rison officials will not be liable for failure
to protect an inmate from harm by another inmate where the
inmate's assertions are vague, lacking particularization
of a specific threatened incident or identification of
‘enemies, '” Defendants contend that the
measures they took were reasonable under the circumstances.
Id. at 4, 5. In their view, “[d]enying summary
judgment for Defendants would create and impose new duties on
prison officials and extend their duty to protect inmates
beyond what is required under clearly established precedent
both now and at the time of Plaintiff's complaint.”
Id. at 2-3. They also argue that they are entitled
to qualified immunity and it was error for the Court not to
hold that they are immune from liability because, as they see
it, there was no clearly established law requiring them to do
more than they did for Wade. Id. at 3.
that Defendants neither cited nor applied the standard for a
motion for reconsideration in their opening brief.
See Defs.' Mot. In their Reply, Defendants
identify Rule 54(b) as “the proper context for
considering Defendants' motion to reconsider, ”
Defs.' Reply 1, and argue that the February 21, 2019
“decision was based on error of law and will cause
manifest injustice, ” id. at 2. Simply put,
Defendants argue that the Court considered the evidence
before it and reached the wrong answer, thereby creating new
law, and they are concerned about the implication of that
holding going forward. Additionally, they use their argument
that the February 21, 2019 Memorandum Opinion and Order
creates new law to amplify their previously-undeveloped
argument that they are entitled to qualified immunity.
motions for reconsideration “may not be used to
relitigate old matters, or to raise arguments or present
evidence that could have been raised prior to the entry of
judgment.” J&J Sports Prods., Inc. v. LaCasa
Del Mofongo LLC, No. PX-18-1283, 2019 WL 2142532, at *1
(D. Md. May 15, 2019) (quoting Pac. Ins. Co. v. Am.
Nat'l Fire Ins. Co., 148 F.3d 396, 403 (4th Cir.
1998)). As for reconsideration based on clear error of law
“mere disagreement” with a court's ruling is
not enough to justify granting a motion for reconsideration.
Lynn, 953 F.Supp.2d at 620 (quoting Sanders
[v. Prince George's Pub. Sch. Sys., No.
RWT-08-501], 2011 WL 4443441, at *1 [(D. Md. Sept. 21,
2011)]). Rather, to justify granting a motion for
reconsideration on the basis of clear error, “the prior
judgment cannot be ‘just maybe or probably wrong; it
must ... strike the court as wrong with the force of a
five-week-old, unrefrigerated dead fish.' ”
Fontell v. Hassett, 891 F.Supp.2d 739, 741 (D. Md.
2012) (alteration in original) (quoting TFWS, Inc. v.
Franchot, 572 F.3d 186, 194 (4th Cir. 2009)). In other
words, the Court's previous judgment must be “dead
wrong.” Franchot, 572 F.3d at 194 (quoting
Parts & Elec. Motors, Inc. v. Sterling Elec.,
Inc., 866 F.2d 228, 233 (7th Cir. 1988)). Further, a
“ ‘factually supported and legally justified'
decision does not constitute clear error.” Lawley
v. Northam, No. ELH-10-1074, 2013 WL 4525288, at *1 (D.
Md. Aug. 23, 2013) (quoting Hutchinson v. Staton,
994 F.2d 1076, 1081-82 (4th Cir. 1993)).
Chae Bros., 2019 WL 1040434, at *2. Similarly,
“[t]o show manifest injustice, a party must establish
an error that is ‘direct, obvious, and
observable.'” Id. at *2 n.2 (quoting
Register v. Cameron & Barkley Co., 481 F.Supp.2d
479, 480 n.1 (D.S.C. 2007)). “This Court has emphasized
that ‘[c]lear 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 . . . .'” Negash v. United
States, No. RDB-17-1954, 2018 WL 3428716, at *3 (D. Md.
July 16, 2018) (quoting Wagner v. Warden, Civ. No.
ELH-14-791, 2016 WL 1169937, at *3 (D. Md. Mar. 24, 2016)
(internal quotation marks omitted)), aff'd, No.
18-1869, 2019 WL 2005678 (4th Cir. May 7, 2019).
Defendants cannot employ their motion for reconsideration to
present a more fulsome argument in support of qualified
immunity; they had the opportunity to do so when they raised
the defense in their dispositive motion. See Pac. Ins.
Co., 148 F.3d at 403; J&J Sports Prods.,
2019 WL 2142532, at *1. Nor can they argue anew that the
undisputed evidence shows that they were not deliberately
indifferent to Wade's safety, simply because they
disagree with the outcome of their dispositive motion.
See Pac. Ins. Co., 148 F.3d at 403; J&J
Sports Prods., 2019 WL 2142532, at *1; Chae
Bros., 2019 WL 1040434, at *2; Lynn, 953
F.Supp.2d at 620.
there is no readily apparent error or misunderstanding in the
February 21, 2019 Memorandum Opinion and Order, which is both
“factually supported and legally justified.”
See Chae Bros., 2019 WL 1040434, at *2; Lawley
v. Northam, No. ELH-10-1074, 2013 WL 4525288, at *1 (D.
Md. Aug. 23, 2013). Defendants insist that the measures they
took to ensure Plaintiff's safety were reasonable because
he had multiple opportunities to explain his concerns,
including at the infraction hearing. Defs.' Mem. 5. But,
the issue is not whether Wade could state his concerns; it is
whether Defendants responded to those concerns with
indifference. Moreover, the transcript of the infraction
hearing shows that the focus was on whether Wade violated a
rule and should receive an infraction: He was providing
information to justify his own actions, not to inform
Defendants about the threat to his safety. See Jan.
28, 2015 Hr'g Tr., ECF No. 13-8. And, Wade stated in the
hearing and asserted in his sworn Complaint that he had
paperwork detailing his role as a witness to a homicide, but
Defendants did not request the paperwork. Id. at 3.
Additionally, insofar as Defendants argue ...