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Castro v. Hollingsworth

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

March 7, 2014

MARIO OHOA CASTRO, Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN J. HOLLINGSWORTH, et al., Respondents.

OPINION

ROBERT B. KUGLER, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Petitioner is a federal prisoner currently incarcerated at F.C.I. Fort Dix in Fort Dix, New Jersey. He is proceeding pro se with a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 and a petition for writ of mandamus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1361. Plaintiff seeks medical attention to treat his eyes as he alleges that he is going blind in both eyes.

Petitioner neither paid the filing fee nor submitted an application to proceed in forma pauperis at the time he filed his petition. Normally, such an omission would have resulted in an administrative termination of this action until petitioner either paid the filing fee or submitted an application to proceed in forma pauperis. However, recognizing the potential severity of petitioner's medical claim, the Court screened the petition on the merits. On January 14, 2014, the Court dismissed this action as being improperly raised as a mandamus and/or habeas petition, but gave petitioner leave to file a complaint pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971).

Presently pending before the Court is petitioner's motion to amend/alter the January 14, 2014 Opinion and Order. Accordingly, the Clerk will be ordered to reopen this case. For the following reasons, petitioner's motion to alter the January 14, 2014 Opinion and Order will be denied.

II. BACKGROUND

Petitioner sought mandamus and habeas relief so that he could get outside treatment for his eyes while incarcerated at a federal prison. He claims that he is going blind in both eyes after cataract eye surgery was unsuccessful. The Court previously determined that seeking mandamus relief was improper because the Bureau of Prisons had discretion under 18 U.S.C. § 3622 to authorize petitioner's furlough request. Thus, petitioner failed to state a clear non-discretionary duty that was owed to him by the Bureau of Prisons. ( See Dkt. No. 2 at p. 3.)

The Court also determined that petitioner's reliance on habeas relief under § 2241 was improper because his petition challenged the conditions of his prison confinement with respect to the medical care he was receiving for his eyes, as opposed to a challenge to the validity of his conviction or length of his sentence. ( See Dkt. No. 2 at p. 4.) The Court therefore dismissed the petition but gave petitioner leave to file a Bivens complaint.

Petitioner filed his motion to amend or alter judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e). Petitioner claims that the Court erred by neglecting to consider petitioner's claim in his petition that this Court also has jurisdiction pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3626.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Legal Standard for Reconsideration

Motions filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) are governed by Local Civil Rule 7.1(i) which allows a party to seek reconsideration by the Court of matters which the party believes the judge has "overlooked." See Carney v. Pennsauken Twp. Police Dep't, No. 11-7366, 2013 WL 4501454, at *1 (D.N.J. Aug. 21, 2013) (citations omitted). "The standard for reargument is high and reconsideration is to be granted only sparingly." Yarrell v. Bartkowski, No. 10-5337, 2012 WL 1600316, at *3 (D.N.J. May 7, 2012) (citing United States v. Jones, 158 F.R.D. 309, 314 (D.N.J. 1994)). To be successful on a motion for reconsideration, a petitioner has the burden to demonstrate: "(1) an intervening change in the controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence that was not available when the court [issued its order]; or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice." Max's Seafood Cafe ex rel. Lou-Ann, Inc. v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999) (citation omitted); see also Berry v. Jacobs IMC, LLC, 99 F.Appx. 405, 410 (3d Cir. 2004).

B. Analysis

Petitioner argues in his motion for reconsideration that the Court overlooked the fact that in addition to asserting mandamus and habeas jurisdiction, he also asserted jurisdiction pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3626[1] in his petition. That section is entitled "Appropriate remedies with respect to prison conditions." See id. As the title to this section indicates, § 3626 is a remedies statute and does not, in and of itself, confer jurisdiction on this Court. Indeed, as the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has noted, "section 3626(a) limits not jurisdiction, but rather the types of remedies available once jurisdiction has been properly invoked." Handberry v. Thompson, 446 F.3d 335, 345 (2d Cir. 2006).

Besides Section 3626, petitioner only relied on the mandamus, § 1361, and habeas, § 2241, statutes to establish jurisdiction for his petition. However, as noted in the January 14, 2014 Opinion, the Court lacked mandamus and habeas jurisdiction in this case. Thus, petitioner could not rely only on Section 3626 because he had not properly invoked this Court's jurisdiction because the two potential jurisdictional statutes petitioner alleged, mandamus and habeas, were improper.

Furthermore, while it appeared that the petition raised potential claims under Bivens, petitioner expressly noted that he did not want his petition recharacterized. ( See Dkt. No. 1 at p. 6.) Therefore, the Court properly dismissed the petition because this Court lacked jurisdiction under the two jurisdictional statutes that petitioner invoked in the petition, specifically mandamus under § 1361 and habeas under § 2241. The Court did not recharacterize the petition as a Bivens complaint at that time given petitioner's statements in the petition that he did not want his petition recharacterized.[2] Nevertheless, the Court gave petitioner leave to file a Bivens complaint.

As Section 3626 did not on its own establish this Court's jurisdiction, petitioner fails to show that the Court's January 14, 2014 Opinion and Order should be amended. He has not shown "(1) an intervening change in the controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence that was not available when the court [issued its order]; or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice." Max's Seafood Cafe, 176 F.3d at 677 (citation omitted). Rather, the purported statute that petitioner claims the Court overlooked (§ 3626) is a remedies statute that would be potentially applicable to petitioner's claims once jurisdiction is properly established.

IV. CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, the motion to amend/alter the January 14, 2014 Opinion will be denied. An appropriate order will be entered.


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