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Malik v. Hannah

March 2, 2007

ABDUS SALAAM MALIK, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LEWIS HANNAH, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Simandle, District Judge

OPINION

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration [Docket Item 28] of the Court's sua sponte dismissal, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), of Plaintiff Abdus Salaam Malik's civil rights claims against Defendants Camden County Police Department and Camden County Prosecutor's Office ("the government Defendants")*fn1 . In its January 3, 2007 Opinion and Order ("the January Opinion"), the Court dismissed Plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

This Court has entertained a prior motion for reconsideration by Plaintiff on his § 1983 claim. In February 2006, this Court determined Plaintiff's civil rights claims were time-barred due to the filing of this action after the two-year statute of limitations period had passed. Almost a year later, in January 2007, this Court granted Plaintiff's first motion for reconsideration, finding that because Plaintiff alleged his lawyer, Defendant Hannah, falsely led Plaintiff to believe the Complaint had been filed, equitable tolling of the statute of limitations was appropriate on a sua sponte dismissal decision. However, while the Court granted Plaintiff's first motion for reconsideration, it did not reinstate the claims against the government Defendants because the Court determined that Plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted in his Complaint against Defendants Camden County Prosecutor's Office and Camden County Police Department. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Plaintiff failed to state a claim because local government units and supervisors are not liable under § 1983 solely on a theory of respondeat superior. Additionally, Plaintiff's Complaint alleged no policy or custom that would render either of the government defendants liable for the alleged unconstitutional conduct of the officers who entered Plaintiff's home in March 2003. In dismissing the Complaint, the Court also noted that the unnamed officers were never defendants in this action.

On this motion, Plaintiff appears to argue first that the Court should reconsider the January 2007 dismissal and reinstate his claims against the government Defendants because their failure to control and train their agents led to the violation of Plaintiff's civil rights; and second, that the Court should permit him to amend his Complaint to include the two John Doe officers whose actions directly violated his civil rights.

II. STANDARD FOR RECONSIDERATION

To the extent Plaintiff seeks reconsideration of the Court's dismissal, Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e) and Local Civil Rule 7.1(i) govern. Rule 59(e) permits parties to seek alteration or amendment of a judgment. A motion under Rule 59(e) is a "device to relitigate the original issue" decided by the district court, and is used to allege legal error. United States v. Fiorelli, 337 F.3d 282, 288 (3d Cir. 2003) (citations omitted).

Local Civil Rule 7.1(i) requires that the moving party set forth the factual matters or controlling legal authority that it believes the court overlooked when rendering its initial decision. L. Civ. R. 7.1(i). Whether to grant reconsideration is a matter within the district court's discretion, but it should only be granted where such facts or legal authority were indeed presented but overlooked. DeLong Corp. v. Raymond Int'l Inc., 622 F.2d 1135, 1140 (3d Cir. 1980), overruled on other grounds by Croker v. Boeing Co., 662 F.2d 975 (3d Cir. 1981); Williams v. Sullivan, 818 F. Supp. 92, 93 (D.N.J. 1993).

As explained below, Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration shall be denied.

A. Motion for Reconsideration

1. Motion for Reconsideration is Untimely

A motion to alter or amend judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e) must be brought within ten days of the entry of the judgment. Here, Plaintiff filed the motion on February 2, 2007, almost a month after the Court's January 3, 2007 Opinion. Application of the Rules requires the Court to deny the motion for reconsideration. While the Court has discretion to relax this requirement, it declines to do so in this instance, having already relaxed the ten-day deadline for Plaintiff's first motion for reconsideration. Therefore, the Court denies Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration because it is untimely.

2. Motion for Reconsideration Fails to Claim Any New Law, New Evidence, or Any Error of Law Made by the Court

Moreover, even if the motion were timely, the Court would deny it because it does not assert a proper basis for reconsideration. Parties moving for reconsideration must show that the availability of new law, new evidence, or an error in applying the law justifies reconsideration. "A party seeking reconsideration must show more than a disagreement with the court's decision, and recapitulation of the cases and arguments considered by the court before rendering its original decision fails to carry the moving party's burden." Panna v. Firstrust Sav. Bank, 760 F. Supp. 432, 435 (D.N.J. 1991) (internal citations omitted). Instead, "the party seeking reconsideration [must show] at least one of the following grounds: (1) an intervening change in the controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence that was ...


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