United States District Court, D. New Jersey
BRIAN R. MARTINOTTI, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
this Court is Plaintiff Ian Lemons's
(“Plaintiff”) motion for reconsideration (ECF No.
5) addressing this Court's Order and Opinion dismissing
Plaintiff's complaint (ECF No. 1) as time barred (ECF
Nos. 3-4). For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's
motion (ECF No. 5) is DENIED.
explained in the Court's previous opinion,
Plaintiff's Complaint brought claims against Gary
Lanigan, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of
Corrections, and various current and former officials at New
Jersey State Prison. (ECF No. 1 at 1-5.) Plaintiff
specifically sought to challenge the automatic withdrawal of
court fees, judicially imposed fines, and restitutionary
payments from his prison trust account without a
pre-deprivation hearing. (Id. at 5-10.) According to
the Complaint, Plaintiff arrived at the prison in August 2005
and noticed the court-ordered fines and fees began to be
removed from his account within a month, without notice or an
opportunity to be heard. (Id. at 5.) Plaintiff
further alleged these withdrawals have continued since that
time, and the remaining court ordered fines and fees continue
to be removed from his account, and that all filed grievances
regarding these withdrawals have been denied. (Id.
asserts in his motion that he is seeking reconsideration of
the dismissal of his complaint, purportedly pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b). Motions for
reconsideration, however, are controlled by either Local
Civil Rule 7.1(i) or Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e).
Whether brought pursuant to Local Civil Rule 7.1(i) or
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e), the scope
of a motion for reconsideration is extremely limited, and
such motions should only be granted sparingly. Delanoy v.
Twp. Of Ocean, No. 13-1555, 2015 WL 2235103, at *2
(D.N.J. May 12, 2015) (as to Local Civil Rule 7.1(i));
see also Blystone v. Horn, 664 F.3d 397, 415 (3d
Cir. 2011) (as to Rule 59(e)). An order of the Court may be
altered or amended pursuant to such a motion only where the
moving party establishes one of the following grounds for
relief: “(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 to prevent manifest
injustice.” Delanoy, 2015 WL 2235106 at *2
(quoting Max's Seafood Café v. Quinteros,
176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999)); see also
Blystone, 664 F.3d at 415 (applying same standard to
59(e) motions). In the reconsideration context, a manifest
injustice will generally arise only where “the Court
overlooked some dispositive factual or legal matter that was
presented to it, ” or committed a “direct,
obvious, and observable” error. See Brown v.
Zickefoose, Civil Action No. 11-3330, 2011 WL 5007829,
at *2 n.3 (D.N.J. 2011). Reconsideration motions may not be
used to relitigate old matters or to raise arguments or
present evidence or allegations that could have been raised
prior to entry of the original order, and courts should only
grant such a motion where its prior decision
“overlooked a factual or legal issue that may alter the
disposition of the matter.” Delanoy, 2015 WL
2235106 at *2.
extent that Petitioner is seeking relief from this
Court's dismissal of his complaint pursuant to Rule 60(b)
rather than merely seeking reconsideration, that rule
“allows a party to seek relief from a final judgment,
and request reopening of his case, under a limited set of
circumstances including fraud, mistake, and newly discovered
evidence.” Gonzalez v. Crosby, 545 U.S. 524,
529 (2005). “The remedy provided by Rule 60(b) is
extraordinary, and special circumstances must justify
granting relief under it.” Jones v. Citigroup,
Inc., Civil Action No. 14-6547, 2015 WL 3385938, at *3
(D.N.J. May 26, 2015) (quoting Moolenaar v. Gov't of
the Virgin Islands, 822 F.3d 1342, 1346 (3d Cir. 1987).
A Rule 60(b) motion “may not be used as a substitute
for appeal, and that legal error, without more cannot justify
granting a Rule 60(b) motion.” Holland v.
Holt, 409 F. App'x 494, 497 (3d Cir. 2010) (quoting
Smith v. Evans, 853 F.2d 155, 158 (3d Cir. 1988)). A
motion under Rule 60(b) may not be granted where the moving
party could have raised the same legal argument by means of a
direct appeal. Id.
motion for reconsideration, Plaintiff argues the Court erred
in dismissing his complaint as time barred. As this Court
previously explained, Plaintiff's complaint contained a
single claim - that the withdrawal of money to pay court
ordered fines and fees from his prison inmate account without
pre-withdrawal procedures violated his right to Due Process
under the Fourteenth Amendment. See Montanez v. Sec'y
Penn. Dep't of Corr., 773 F.3d 472, 486 (3d Cir.
2016) (holding that Due Process, at minimum, requires
“inmates to be informed of the terms of [prison
policies requiring the automatic deduction of fines] and the
amount of their total monetary liability to the [State] . . .
before the first deduction”). Claims bought pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983 in New Jersey are subject to a two year
statute of limitations. See, e.g., Patyrak v. Apgar,
511 F. App'x 193, 195 (3d Cir. 2013). The Third Circuit
explained in Montanez:
The date of accrual in a § 1983 action is determined by
federal law. Kach [v. Hose, 589 F.3d 626,
634 (3d Cir. 2009)]. Under federal law, a cause of action
accrues “‘when the plaintiff knew or should have
known of the injury upon which the action is
based.'” Id. (quoting Sameric Corp. v.
City of Philadelphia, 142 F.3d 582, 599 (3d Cir. 1998)).
. . .
. . . This Court has previously noted with regard to
deductions from inmate accounts that an “alleged
violation of [an inmate's] Fourteenth Amendment right to
due process occur[s] at the moment he was deprived of his
property interest without notice and a predeprivation hearing
(i.e., when [prison] employees seized the money in his inmate
account.)” Higgins v. Beyer, 293 F.3d 683, 694
n. 3 (3d Cir. 2002). Following this rule, [the
plaintiff's] alleged injury occurred . . . when the DOC
first deducted funds from his account. It was at this point
that the DOC deprived [the plaintiff] of his property
interests allegedly without due process. [The plaintiff]
“knew or should have known of” his injury within
a month of the first deduction [when] he received an inmate
account statement that reflected the debit from his account.
See Kach, 589 F.3d at 634.
Montanez, 773 F.3d at 480.
Plaintiff acknowledged in his complaint and in his
certification attached to his complaint, the prison first
began taking money out of his account within a month of his
arrival, and continued to take the money out of his account
to pay court ordered fees and fines “each month”
thereafter. (ECF No. 1 at 5-6 and ECF No. 1-2 at 8).
Plaintiff does not dispute this fact in his current motion,
but instead argues he should not be time barred for two
reasons: (1) because he alleges he did not know it was the
prison, but rather thought it was the court that was
deducting the money from his account; and (2) because
“it was not clearly established law in this court
that” a claim such as his was cognizable at the time of
his initial injury.
first to Plaintiff's argument that his claim was
“clearly established” in 2005, the Court notes
that the Third Circuit explicitly rejected such an ...