United States District Court, D. Maryland
BEATRICE KOON, as mother and next friend of Elijah Glay, et al.
PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, MD, et al.
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
George's County, Prince George's County Police
Department and Corporal Tavarras Edwards (“Defendant
Edwards”) (collectively, “Defendants”)
filed a motion for summary judgment in this civil rights
action on March 15, 2018. (ECF No. 44). Defendant's
motion was granted in part and denied in part in a memorandum
opinion and order issued on March 22, 2019. (ECF Nos. 48
& 49). The motion was denied as to Plaintiffs' claim
against Defendant Edwards for excessive force under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, and Defendant Edwards filed a motion to
reconsider on April 18, 2019. (ECF No. 51). The issues have
been briefed, and the court now rules, no hearing being
deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6. For the following
reasons, the motion to reconsider will be denied.
Standard of Review
Edwards cites Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) as the
standard of review. (ECF No. 51-1, at 2). However, the order
partially denying Defendant Edwards' motion for summary
judgment was an interlocutory order rather than a judgment.
The appropriate Rule under which to file motions for
reconsideration of an interlocutory order is Rule 54(b).
See Fayetteville Inv'rs v. Commercial
Builders, Inc., 936 F.2d 1462, 1469-70 (4th
Cir. 1991). Rule 54(b) provides that “any order or
other decision, however designated, that adjudicates fewer
than all the claims or the rights and liabilities of fewer
than all the parties . . . 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.
54(b). The standard governing a motion for reconsideration of
an interlocutory order, as enumerated by the United States
Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, resembles the Rule
“Compared to motions to reconsider final judgments
pursuant to Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, Rule 54(b)'s approach involves broader
flexibility to revise interlocutory orders before final
judgment as the litigation develops and new facts or
arguments come to light.” Carlson [v. Bos.
Sci. Corp.], 856 F.3d [320, ]  325 [(4th
Nevertheless, the discretion afforded by Rule 54(b) “is
not limitless, ” and we “have cabined revision
pursuant to Rule 54(b) by treating interlocutory rulings as
law of the case.” Id. This is because, while
Rule 54(b) “gives a district court discretion to
revisit earlier rulings in the same case, ” such
discretion is “subject to the caveat that where
litigants have once battled for the court's decision,
they should neither be required, nor without good reason
permitted, to battle for it again.” Official Comm.
of the Unsecured Creditors of Color Tile, Inc. v. Coopers
& Lybrand, LLP, 322 F.3d 147, 167 (2d
Cir. 2003) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Accordingly, “a court may revise an interlocutory order
under the same circumstances in which it may depart from the
law of the case: (1) a subsequent trial producing
substantially different evidence; (2) a change in applicable
law; or (3) clear error causing manifest injustice.”
Carlson, 856 F.3d at 325 (internal quotation marks
and alteration omitted). “This standard . . . departs
from [Rule 59] by accounting for potentially different
evidence discovered during litigation as opposed to the
discovery of new evidence not available at trial.”
U.S. Tobacco Coop. Inc. v. Big S. Wholesale of Va.,
LLC, 899 F.3d 236, 256-57 (4th Cir. 2018).
Edwards argues that his lone statement “that Mr. Glay
disobeyed [his] commands and reached into the bag” is
sufficient evidence to conclude that Defendant Edwards did
not violate Mr. Glay's constitutional rights and thus to
grant Defendant Edwards qualified immunity. (ECF No. 51-1, at
2 & 9). Defendant Edwards' motion, however,
references a litany of evidence that neither party provided
when briefing the motion for summary judgment. (See
ECF No. 51-1, at 4-8). The new evidence is attached to
Defendant Edwards' motion and includes: (1) the statement
of Romeo De la Cruz, Jr. (ECF No. 51-4); (2) interview
transcripts of firefighter Matt Tomlins and Lighthouse at
Twin Lakes resident Ronald Huggins (ECF Nos. 51-5 &
51-8); (3) a photo of Mr. Glay's body at the scene of the
shooting (ECF No. 51-7); and (4) his own affidavit affirming
the content of the photo (ECF No. 51-6). Thus, Defendant
Edwards implicitly argues that reconsideration is warranted
to account for new evidence. Defendant Edwards' motion
attempts to take a second bite at the apple. He provides no
explanation as to why the evidence was not submitted with his
original motion for summary judgment and uses the evidence to
rehash the same arguments already considered and rejected by
the court. However compelling the additional evidence may be,
a Rule 54(b) motion to reconsider “is not a license to
. . . present new evidence.” Carrero v.
Farrelly, 310 F.Supp.3d 581, 584 (D.Md. 2018) (quoting
Royal Ins. Co. of Am. v. Miles & Stockbridge,
P.C., 142 F.Supp.2d 676, 677 n.1 (D.Md. 2001).
Additionally, the Fourth Circuit has “consistently
affirmed denials of motions to reconsider summary judgment
rulings where the motion is merely a vessel for the very
evidence that was initially lacking.” Carlson,
856 F.3d at 326. Defendant Edwards' provision of new
evidence without explanation as to its tardiness in his
motion for summary judgment does “not amount to the
type of evidence constituting grounds for a valid motion for
reconsideration.” Id. Thus, the evidence does
not warrant reconsideration and will not be considered in
analyzing Defendant Edwards' remaining arguments for
Defendant Edwards explicitly argues that reconsideration is
warranted to correct clear errors of law. (ECF No. 51-1, at
2). Defendant Edwards takes issue with the standard used to
conclude that he failed to meet the burden for summary
judgment. He specifically asserts that his exculpatory
statement must be accepted as true because “no forensic
evidence, expert opinion, [or] police report exist[s]
to” contradict it. (ECF No. 51-1, at 2). Defendant
Edwards also disputes the court's reliance on Deorle
v. Rutherford, 272 F.3d 1272, 1279 (9th Cir.
2001), arguing that it is factually dissimilar from the
events in question here. (ECF No. 51-1, at 3). Lastly,
Defendant Edwards takes issue with the standard used to
consider his entitlement to qualified immunity. (ECF No.
51-1, at 9).
Edwards' arguments misconstrue the court's opinion
and raise the same points already evaluated and rejected in
response to his motion for summary judgment. The opinion was
not skeptical of Defendant Edwards' veracity, but instead
questioned whether Defendant Edwards' self-serving
account could be accepted despite a combination of lacking
and conflicting evidence. Further, the narrative differences
in Deorle are immaterial. The opinion did not cite
Deorle as factually analogous, but relied on it as
guidance for determining the correct standard in deadly force
cases where an officer states that he fears for his safety.
Indeed, the Fourth Circuit similarly advised against making
assumptions in the officer's favor based on self-serving
factors and stated that the court must “account for 
facts and the reasonable inferences that could be drawn from
them in the [Plaintiff]'s favor.” Estate of
Jones by Jones v. City of Martinsburg, W. Virginia, 726
Fed.Appx. 173, 179 (4th Cir. 2018). Finally,
Defendant Edwards' argument in favor of qualified
immunity repeats the argument in his motion for summary
judgment and fails to state how the court's qualified
immunity holding constitutes a clear error of law. A Rule
54(b) motion may not be used to “relitigate the merits
of the issues [previously] decided by the [c]ourt[, ]”
which is precisely what Defendant Edwards attempts here.
Metro. Reg'l Info. Sys., Inc. v. Am. Home Realty
Network, Inc., 18 F.Supp.3d 662, 679 (D.Md. 2013);
see also Nana-Akua Takyiwaa Shalom v. Payless Shoesource
Worldwide, Inc., 921 F.Supp.2d 470, 481 (D.Md. 2013).
Thus, Defendant Edwards' argument that the court
committed a clear error of law is an insufficient basis for
the extraordinary remedy of reconsideration under Rule 54(b).
foregoing reasons, the motion for reconsideration will be