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Morris v. Southern Intermodal Xpress

United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division

May 30, 2019

DAVID MORRIS, Plaintiff,
v.
SOUTHERN INTERMODAL XPRESS, ASSURANT EMPLOYEE BENEFITS, UNION SECURITY INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendants.

          ORDER

          CALLIE V. S. GRANADE SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's motion for relief from judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(6) (Doc. 63), opposition thereto filed by Defendant Southern Intermodal Express and motion for sanctions (Doc. 64), and Plaintiff's reply (Doc. 65). For the reasons explained below, the Court finds that Plaintiff's motion for relief should be denied. The Court also finds that Defendant's motion for sanctions should be denied at this time, but warns Plaintiff that if he files frivolous or scurrilous motions in the future they will be stricken and monetary sanctions may be considered.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed this ERISA action, pro se, against Southern Intermodal Xpress (“SIX”), Assurant Employee Benefits (“Assurant”), and Union Security Insurance Company (“Union”) on December 21, 2016, seeking death benefits after the death of Gwendolyn Morris. On January 31, 2017, SIX moved to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Doc. 5). The motion to dismiss was referred to the Magistrate Judge for Report and Recommendation.

         On February 17, 2017, Plaintiff filed two emergency motions: the first for Court seizure of money he paid for the life insurance at issue; the second asked the Court to seize a copy of the life insurance policy. (Docs. 18, 19). The Court denied both emergency motions noting that Plaintiff had already attached a copy of the insurance policy to his complaint and finding that Plaintiff had not explained why emergency relief was necessary or warranted and had not made the required showings for relief. (Doc. 26).

         On March 2, 2017, Plaintiff moved for sanctions against SIX and SIX's counsel. (Doc. 25). This Court denied Plaintiff's motion, finding SIX and its counsel had not acted wrongfully or improper. (Doc. 27).

         On April 28, 2017, this Court entered an Order adopting the Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge which recommended dismissal of SIX pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), but without prejudice to Plaintiff's ability to file an amended complaint that properly alleged a claim by not later than May 15, 2017. (Doc. 37). Plaintiff did not file an amended complaint. Instead, Plaintiff filed a “Motion to Reconsider Document Number 37; Or Certify the Document Number 37 Resolution as a Final Matter Ripe for Appellate Review.” (Doc. 38). On May 19, 2017, this Court denied Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration. (Doc. 39).

         On July 13, 2017, the remaining Defendants filed a motion for judgment on the record. (Doc. 43). On July 19, 2017, Plaintiff filed an emergency motion to compel against SIX, even though SIX had been dismissed and was no longer a party to the action. (Doc. 40). That motion was denied on June 20, 2017. (Doc. 41). On September 14, 2017, this Court granted Defendant's motion for judgment on the record and entered an order dismissing this action against the remaining Defendants with prejudice. (Docs. 47, 48).

         On September 25, 2017, Plaintiff filed a motion entitled “David Morris Motion for Judgment Pursuant to Document Number Three (3) and Relief from Judgments Pronounced and other wise Un-Pronounced” (Doc. 49), which the Court construed as a motion for reconsideration. In the motion, Plaintiff refers to the evidence he submitted in “Court Docket - Document Number Three (3)” and contends that SIX was not dismissed or released by the Court and that the case should proceed. Plaintiff also sought reconsideration of the ruling in favor of Defendants Assurant and Union. The Court denied the motion on January 31, 2018. (Doc. 50).

         Plaintiff filed a Notice of Appeal on February 28, 2019. (Doc. 51). The Eleventh Circuit issued an opinion affirming the judgment against Plaintiff on December 4, 2018. (Docs. 60, 67). Plaintiff then filed two emergency motions in the Eleventh Circuit, which the Eleventh Circuit denied. (Doc. 64-2). Plaintiff also moved for rehearing in the Eleventh Circuit. (Doc. 64-1). Plaintiff then moved to stay further appellate proceedings. SIX moved for sanctions against Plaintiff in the Eleventh Circuit. On April 9, 2019, the Eleventh Circuit denied Plaintiff's motion to stay, denied SIX's motion for sanctions and denied Plaintiff's motion for rehearing.

         DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff's current motion seeks reconsideration pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(6). (Doc. 63). The motion states that it is “Directed Against” SIX and SIX's attorney - Lisa Cooper. The Court notes that SIX states in its response that the case is currently on appeal. The Eleventh Circuit issued an opinion affirming this Court's judgment (Doc. 62), denied Plaintiff's motion for rehearing, and on April 18, 2019, issued a mandate (Doc. 67). Even if the case were still on appeal, a district court may consider and deny a motion for reconsideration while the case is on appeal or can state that it “would grant the motion if the court of appeals remands for that purpose or that the motion raises a substantial issue.” Fed. R Civ. P. 62.1; Munoz v. United States, 451 Fed.Appx. 818, 819 (11th Cir. 2011) (finding that while a case is on appeal a district court may address the merits of a Rule 60(b) motion and deny the motion or indicate its belief that it is meritorious). Thus, it is clear that the motion for reconsideration is properly before this Court.

         Reconsideration under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) is permitted ...


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