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Reardon v. Hillman

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

January 7, 2019

JOHN E. REARDON, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
NOEL HILLMAN, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          HON. BRIAN R. MARTINOTTI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before this Court are: (1) John E. Reardon's (“Reardon”) Motion for relief from judgment pursuant to Rule 60 (ECF No. 18); (2) Reardon's Motion to Amend the Complaint (ECF No. 23); and (3) Reardon's Motion for Recusal (ECF No. 24). Defendants Noel Hillman, U.S.D.J., Jay Sanchez, Desire Ramsey, and Ryan Merrigan (collectively, “Defendants”) oppose the Motion for relief from judgment. (ECF No. 21.) Having reviewed the parties' submissions filed in connection with the motions and having declined to hold oral argument pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78(b), for the reasons set forth below, and for good cause shown, all motions are DENIED.

         I. Background

         Plaintiffs Reardon, Judith A. Reardo n, and John J. Reardon (collectively “Plaintiffs”) brought an action against Judge Hillman and Clerk's Office employees Jay Sanchez, Desiree Ramsey, and Ryan Merrigan, alleging violations of their First, Fifth, and Seventh Amendment rights pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1343, 2201, and 2202, and Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). The allegations in Plaintiffs' Complaint arose from two other civil matters they are pursuing in this District, see Reardon v. Segal, et al., No. 15-00244 (D.N.J., filed Jan. 13, 2015) and Reardon v. Officer Mondelli, et. al., No. 15-05520 (D.N.J., filed July 9, 2015), both of which were before Judge Hillman. Plaintiffs claim Judge Hillman and the Clerk's Office employees “refuse[d] to enter default upon demand” in those matters. (ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 3, 4, 6, 9, 10, 13, 16, 18, 19, 23, 27, 28, 35, 48, 50, 51.) Plaintiffs further argued the merits of their underlying cases and seek $100, 000, 000 in compensatory, punitive, exemplary damages, loss of income, and emotional and psychological distress. (See Id. (Counts 1 through 9).)

         On April 6, 2018, this Court dismissed Plaintiffs' Complaint with prejudice. (ECF No. 9.) On April 19, 2018, Plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal to the Third Circuit. (ECF No. 14.) On April 28, 2018, the Third Circuit affirmed this Court's dismissal of Plaintiffs' complaint. See Reardon v. Hillman, 735 Fed.Appx. 45, 46 (3d Cir. 2018). (ECF No. 20.) Over six months after this Court's initial dismissal of Plaintiffs' Complaint, Reardon filed a Motion for relief from judgment pursuant to Rule 60 (ECF No. 18) and a request setting out additional facts and law (ECF No. 19). Subsequently, on October 31, 2018, Reardon field a Motion to Amend the Complaint. (ECF No. 23.) On November 1, 2018, Reardon filed a Motion for Recusal. (ECF No. 24.) On December 12, 2018, Reardon filed another request to add additional case law to his Rule 60 Motion. (ECF No. 25.)

         II. Legal Standards

         A. Motion to Reopen

         “Rule 60(b) 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, 125 S.Ct. 2641, 162 L.Ed.2d 480 (2005), as well as “inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(1). “The remedy provided by Rule 60(b) is extraordinary, and special circumstances must justify granting relief under it.” Jones v. Citigroup, Inc., 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.2d 1342, 1346 (3d Cir. 1987)). A Rule 60(b) motion “may not be used as a substitute for appeal, and . . . legal error, without more cannot justify granting a Rule 60(b) motion.” Holland v. Holt, 409 Fed.Appx. 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.

         B. Motion to Reconsider

         While not expressly authorized by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, motions for reconsideration are proper pursuant to this District's Local Civil Rule 7.1(i). See Dunn v. Reed Group, Inc., No. 08-1632, 2010 WL 174861, at *1 (D.N.J. Jan 13, 2010). The comments to that Rule make clear, however, that “reconsideration is an extraordinary remedy that is granted ‘very sparingly.'” L.Civ.R. 7.1(i) cmt. 6(d) (quoting Brackett v. Ashcroft, Civ. No. 03-3988, 2003 WL 22303078, *2 (D.N.J. Oct. 7, 2003)); see also Langan Eng'g & Envtl. Servs., Inc. v. Greenwich Ins. Co., No. 07-2983, 2008 WL 4330048, at *1 (D.N.J. Sept. 17, 2008) (explaining that a motion for reconsideration under Rule 7.1(i) is “ ‘an extremely limited procedural vehicle,' and requests pursuant to th[is] rule[ ] are to be granted ‘sparingly' ”) (citation omitted); Fellenz v. Lombard Inv. Corp., 400 F.Supp.2d 681, 683 (D.N.J. 2005).

         A motion for reconsideration “may not be used to re-litigate old matters, nor to raise arguments or present evidence that could have been raised prior to the entry of judgment.” P. Schoenfeld Asset Mgmt., LLC v. Cendant Corp., 161 F.Supp.2d 349, 352 (D.N.J. 2001). Instead, Local Civil Rule 7.1(i) directs a party seeking reconsideration to file a brief “setting forth concisely the matter or controlling decisions which the party believes the Judge or Magistrate Judge has overlooked.” L.Civ.R. 7.1(i); see also Bowers v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n, 130 F.Supp.2d 610, 612 (D.N.J. 2001) (“The word ‘overlooked' is the operative term in the Rule.”).

         To prevail on a motion for reconsideration, the moving party 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 not available when the court [made its initial decision]; or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice.” Max's Seafood Cafe by Lou-Ann, Inc. v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999); see also N. River Ins. Co. v. CIGNA Reinsurance, Co., 52 F.3d 1194, 1218 (3d Cir. 1995) (internal quotations omitted). A court commits clear error of law “only if the record cannot support the findings that led to the ruling.” ABS Brokerage Servs. v. Penson Fin. Servs., Inc., No. 09-4590, 2010 WL 3257992, at *6 (D.N.J. Aug. 16, 2010) (citing United States v. Grape, 549 F.3d 591, 603-04 (3d Cir. 2008)). “Thus, a party must . . . demonstrate that (1) the holdings on which it bases its request were without support in the record, or (2) would result in ‘manifest injustice' if not addressed.” Id. Moreover, when the assertion is that the Court overlooked something, the Court must have overlooked some dispositive factual or legal matter that was presented to it. See L.Civ.R. 7.1(i).

         In short, “[m]ere ‘disagreement with the Court's decision' does not suffice.” ABS Brokerage Servs., 2010 WL 3257992, at *6 (quoting P. Schoenfeld Asset Mgmt., LLC, 161 F.Supp.2d at 353); see also United States v. Compaction Sys. Corp., 88 F.Supp.2d 339, 345 (D.N.J. 1999) (“Mere disagreement with a court's decision normally should be raised through the appellate process and is inappropriate on a motion for [reconsideration].”); Florham Park Chevron, Inc. v. Chevron U.S.A., Inc., 680 F.Supp. 159, 163 (D.N.J. 1988); Schiano v. MBNA Corp., No. 05-1771, 2006 WL 3831225, at *2 (D.N.J. Dec. 27, 2006) (“Mere disagreement with the Court will not suffice to show that the Court overlooked relevant facts or controlling law, . . . and should be dealt with through the normal appellate process . . . .”) (citations omitted).

         III. ...


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