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Reed v. Scheffler

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

May 8, 2017

WILLIAM A. REED, JR. as personal representative for ELSIE M. REED, an incompetent individual, and WILLIAM A. REED, JR., individually, Plaintiff,
v.
KAREN SCHEFFLER Mayor of the Borough of Palmyra, TRACY KILMER Housing Official, Borough of Palmyra, BOROUGH OF PALMYRA, Defendants.

          PETER M. KOBER On behalf of Plaintiff.

          RICHARD L. GOLDSTEIN ASHLEY L. TOTH MARSHALL, DENNEHEY, WARNER, COLEMAN & GOGGIN, PA WOODLAND FALLS CORPORATE PARK On behalf of Defendant Karen Scheffler.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

          NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.

         WHEREAS, pending before the Court is the motion of Plaintiff for reconsideration of the Court's dismissal of his free speech claims against Defendant Karen Scheffler, the Mayor of the Borough of Palmyra, when Scheffler responded to Plaintiff's statements in the Burlington County Times about his concerns over the Borough's ordinance requiring a home owner to obtain a certificate of occupancy from the Borough prior to the sale of a home; and

         WHEREAS, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's First Amendment claims because Plaintiff's complaint contained no allegations that his free speech rights were chilled, or that he suffered any sort of retaliation;[1] and

         WHEREAS, Plaintiff is asking the Court to reconsider its decision, arguing that if pleading deficiencies were fatal to his claims, he should be permitted to amend his claims; and

         WHEREAS, Plaintiff's brief provides suggested amendments to three paragraphs in his complaint; and

         WHEREAS, a motion for reconsideration may be treated as a motion to alter or amend judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e), or as a motion for relief from judgment or order under Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b), or it may be filed pursuant to Local Civil Rule 7.1(i);[2]

         WHEREAS, the purpose of a motion for reconsideration “is to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence, ” Max's Seafood Cafe ex rel. Lou-Ann, Inc. v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999); and

         WHEREAS, a judgment may be altered or amended only if the party seeking reconsideration shows: (1) an intervening change in the controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence that was not available when the court granted the motion for summary judgment; or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice, id.; and

         WHEREAS, the Court finds that Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration does not meet the listed items that warrant reconsideration; and

         WHEREAS, the Court further finds that even though Third Circuit precedent “supports the notion that in civil rights cases district courts must offer amendment--irrespective of whether it is requested--when dismissing a case for failure to state a claim, ” that notion does not apply if “doing so would be inequitable or futile, ” Fletcher-Harlee Corp. v. Pote Concrete Contractors, Inc., 482 F.3d 247, 251 (3d Cir. 2007); and

         WHEREAS, the Court has reviewed Plaintiff's proposed amendments and finds that they do not change the Court's prior analysis, see Docket No. 23 at 7 (explaining that a court cannot credit either “bald assertions” or “legal conclusions” in a complaint when deciding a motion to dismiss); Docket No. 23 at 10-11 (simply adding to his complaint that Plaintiff, or any other ordinary and reasonable person, would be fearful of exercising his rights to speak to the council or newspaper in the future after Scheffler's remarks is a “bald assertion” or “legal conclusion, ” and does not establish the requisite causal connection); Docket No. 23 at 14 n.3 (explaining that Plaintiff's conclusory statements that his home was in good repair must be supported by some minimal factual basis); and

         WHEREAS, the Court's denial of his motion for reconsideration and its decision not to offer Plaintiff the opportunity to amend his complaint sua sponte does not prevent Plaintiff from seeking leave ...


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