United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Eastern Division
THOMAS E. PEREZ, Secretary of Labor, United States Department of Labor, Plaintiff,
BKJ INVERSTMENTS, LLC d/b/a CAFÉ 123, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Russ Walker United States Magistrate Judge
matter is before the court on the plaintiff's consent
motion to reconsider the court's entry of final judgment.
See Doc. 45. The plaintiff argues that this court
committed clear error and caused manifest injustice by
granting a joint motion to dismiss, denying the parties'
motion for entry of a proposed consent judgment, and closing
this case after the parties notified the court that they had
reached a final settlement agreement on all areas of dispute.
support of its motion, the plaintiff relies on a case decided
in the Middle District of Alabama, Richardson v.
U.S., 67 F.Supp.2d 1321 (M.D. Ala. 1999), for the
proposition that a motion for reconsideration is due to be
granted “to correct clear error or manifest
injustice.” Doc. 45 at 1 (citing Richardson,
67 F.Supp.2d at 1321). However, the motion to reconsider
standard that the Court applied in Richardson is not
applicable to the instant motion. The Richardson
Court ruled on a motion to reconsider several interlocutory
orders - not, as here, on a post-judgment request to alter or
amend a final judgment. The basis for the pending motion here
is in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and a different
standard of review applies to post-judgment motions.
post-judgment motion may be treated as made pursuant to
either Fed.R.Civ.P. 59 or 60 - regardless of how the motion
is styled by the movant - depending on the type of relief
sought.” Bush v. Hughes, 2010 WL 2465527, at
*1 (M.D. Ala. June 15, 2010) (quoting Mays v. U.S. Postal
Serv., 122 F.3d 43, 46 (11th Cir. 1997)). In the present
motion, the plaintiff moves to set aside the final judgment
and asks the court to enter the parties' proposed consent
judgment in its place; thus, the motion is properly
characterized as one under Rule 59(e) to “alter or
amend a judgment.” Id. The plaintiff's
motion “is a timely motion pursuant to Rule 59(e) of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides that
‘[a] motion to alter or amend a judgment must be filed
no later than 28 days after the entry of the
judgment.'” Giles v. Winn-Dixie
Montgomery, LLC, 2014 WL 590333, at *1 (S.D. Ala. Feb.
14, 2014), aff'd, 574 F. App'x 892 (11th
Cir. 2014) (citing Green v. Drug Enforcement Admin.,
606 F.3d 1296, 2010 WL 1993846, *1 (11th Cir. May 19, 2010)
(explaining that lower courts have almost without exception
treated post-judgment motions to reconsider as Rule 59
motions, regardless of their label)).
consideration of plaintiffs' motion, as well as the
correct legal basis for the requested relief, the court will
exercise its discretion amend the final judgment by entering
the parties' proposed consent judgment in the interests
of finality, justice and judicial economy and for the reasons
explained below. See American Home Assur. Co. v. Glenn
Estess & Assocs., Inc., 763 F.2d 1237, 1238-39 (11th
Cir. 1985) (a trial court has discretion to alter or amend a
judgment under Rule 59(e)). However, the court does not
conclude that it committed error or that manifest injustice
resulted from its denial of the parties' motion for entry
of the proposed consent judgment based on the record at the
time that final judgment was entered.
lawsuit was filed on January 12, 2016. See Doc. 1.
On June 20, 2016, the court held a scheduling conference. At
that hearing, counsel for the plaintiff represented that the
parties were nearing a settlement, and that only limited
discovery would be needed. Defense counsel agreed with
plaintiff's counsel's assessment. The parties
proposed, and the court accepted, a short discovery period.
On July 7, 2016, this cause was set for mediation before
United States Magistrate Judge Terry Moorer. See
Doc. 17. Thereafter, the parties filed three motions to
continue the mediation, and Judge Moorer granted those
motions. Five months after the order setting the mediation
hearing, Judge Moorer mediated this case on December 7, 2017.
The parties did not reach a settlement at mediation.
mediation, on December 12, 2016, the parties filed a joint
motion to stay. In that motion, the parties represented that
they had “made significant steps towards a potential
settlement, ” and they requested a 60-day stay of all
deadlines, including discovery and dispositive motions
deadlines. Doc. 29 at 1. The parties did not give any reason
for the necessity for a stay - e.g., they did not
argue, for example, that the stay was likely to help
facilitate a settlement. The court set a telephone status
conference regarding the motion to stay, which was continued
once at the request of defense counsel. See Doc. 30,
Doc. 31, Doc. 32. Following the status conference, at which
the parties reaffirmed their shared desire to reach a
settlement, the court granted in part and denied in part the
motion to stay and set deadlines for the parties to complete
discovery and to file dispositive motions. See Doc.
34. The dispositive motions deadline expired on March 27,
2017. See id.
parties did not file dispositive motions, and the parties
took no action on the record to advance this litigation until
August 4, 2017 - approximately eight months after the status
conference regarding the motion to stay - when one of
defendants' lawyers filed a motion to withdraw.
See Doc. 36. The court set another status
conference, settlement conference, and a hearing on the
motion to withdraw for August 16, 2017. See Doc. 37.
On the day of the hearing, plaintiff filed a consent motion
to continue because “the parties achieved a settlement
agreement … on August 15, 2017. The [plaintiff]
expects to file a proposed consent judgment within the next
30 days.” Doc. 38 at 1. The court granted the motion to
continue, and ordered plaintiff to file a motion to dismiss
this cause pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
41(a)(2) “or other appropriate pleading” by
September 18, 2017. See Doc. 39. The court also
continued the final pretrial conference that was set for
August 31, 2017, because of the parties' notice of
settlement. See Doc. 40. However, the
plaintiff's deadline lapsed, and the plaintiff did not
comply with the court's order.
September 20, 2017, the court entered an order setting this
cause for a final pretrial hearing on September 22, 2017,
noted that discovery was closed and the deadline for filing
dispositive motions and Daubert motions had passed,
and directed that
[t]he deadline for filing a motion to continue the
final pretrial hearing set by this order is 2:00 p.m. on
Thursday, September 21, 2017. Any such motion to
continue may be summarily denied if it is not accompanied by
a motion to dismiss or other appropriate filing that places
the parties' proposed settlement before the court or, if
the parties have not reached a final settlement, a notice
that this matter is not settled and the parties are prepared
to go to trial.
at 3 (emphasis in original). Thereafter, the parties filed an
untimely joint motion to continue the final pretrial hearing,
and, once again, the parties represented that they
“reached an agreement” to resolve this lawsuit.
Doc. 42 at 1; see also Doc. 42-1 (proposed consent
order entered on September 21, 2017, the court set out the
following, inter alia:
At 2:30 p.m. on September 21, the parties filed a belated
motion to continue the final pretrial hearing. See
Doc. 42. The parties did not seek leave of court to file the
motion out of time, nor did they acknowledge that the motion
was untimely under the court's September 20, 2017 order.
Ordinarily, the court might not be overly concerned with a
30-minute delay, particularly if cause were established in
the motion, but this is not the first example of the
parties' operating outside of the court's orders. The
parties have ignored or violated the court's orders on