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Carter v. United States

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Northeastern Division

October 21, 2019

ELIZABETH R. CARTER, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Frances E. P. Roper, Plaintiff
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          HERMAN N. JOHNSON, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Elizabeth R. Carter filed a Motion for Relief from Final Judgment pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 59 and 60(b)(2). (Doc. 33). Plaintiff did not satisfy the requirements of Rules 59 and 60, and the evidence does not support her argument that the court should dismiss this case without prejudice. Thus, the court DENIES Plaintiff's motion.

         STANDARDS OF REVIEW

         Rule 59

         Plaintiff does not specify which subdivision of Rule 59 serves as the foundation of her motion, but because she is seeking relief from this court's ruling on a pre-trial dispositive motion, rather than a judgment following trial, she can only rely upon Rule 59(e). The text of Rule 59(e) does not set forth specific grounds for relief, [1] and the decision to alter or amend the judgment is committed to the sound discretion of the district court. American Home Assurance Co. v. Glenn Estess & Assocs., Inc., 763 F.2d 1237, 1238-39 (11th Cir. 1985). “The only grounds for granting [a Rule 59] motion are newly-discovered evidence or manifest errors of law or fact.” U.S. v. Marion, 562 F.3d 1330, 1335 (11th Cir. 2009) (alteration supplied) (quoting Arthur v. King, 500 F.3d 1335, 1343 (11th Cir. 2007) (per curiam), cert. denied, 552 U.S. 1040 (2007)) (additional quotation marks and citation omitted in original). In contrast, Rule 59(e) may “‛not be used to relitigate old matters or to present arguments or evidence that could have been raised prior to judgment.'” Wilchombe v. TeeVee Toons, Inc., 555 F.3d 949, 957 (11th Cir. 2009) (quoting Michael Linet, Inc. v. Village of Wellington, Fla., 408 F.3d 757, 763 (11th Cir. 2005)). Furthermore, a court should not amend or alter a judgment if doing so would serve no useful purpose. 11 Wright, Miller & Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2810.1 (2d ed. 1995).

         Rule 60(b)(2)

         Rule 60(b)(2) permits a court to “relieve a party or its legal representative from a final judgment, order, or proceeding” as a result of “newly discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence, could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b).” Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(2). To prevail, the movant must satisfy a five-part test:

(1) the evidence must be newly discovered since the trial; (2) due diligence on the part of the movant to discover the new evidence must be shown; (3) the evidence must not be merely cumulative or impeaching; (4) the evidence must be material; and (5) the evidence must be such that a new trial would probably produce a new result.

Waddell v. Hendry Cty. Sheriff's Office, 329 F.3d 1300, 1309 (11th Cir. 2003) (citing Toole v. Baxter Healthcare Corp., 235 F.3d 1307, 1316 (11th Cir. 2000)). Because “[f]inality is a virtue in the law, “‘[a] motion for a new trial under Rule 60(b)(2) is an extraordinary motion and the requirements of the rule must be strictly met.'” Waddell, 329 F.3d at 1309 (quoting Toole, 235 F.3d at 1316).

         ANALYSIS

         I. Carter Does Not Meet The Threshold Requirements Of Either Rule 59(e) Or Rule 60(b)(2)

         Carter filed her Motion based upon a letter she received from the IRS on June 17, 2019, 53 days before this court entered judgment on August 9, 2019. She does not offer any explanation for failing to present the letter to the court prior to the entry of judgment. Therefore, Rule 59(e) does not provide any relief to her. See Wilchombe, 555 F.3d at 957 (holding that a party may not rely upon Rule 59(e) to “present arguments or evidence that could have been raised prior to judgment”); id. at 959 (“Denial of a motion to amend is especially soundly exercised' when a party gives no reason for not previously raising an issue.” (quoting O'Neal v. Kennamer, 958 F.2d 1044, 1047 (11th Cir. 1992))).

         In addition, Rule 60(b)(2) provides relief only when new evidence “could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b).” Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(2). Rule 59(b) addresses motions for a new trial, which Carter did not file. Rather, she filed a motion to alter or amend a judgment pursuant to Rule 59(e). Therefore, Rule 60(b)(2) does not offer Carter any relief based upon its express terms.

         Furthermore, the deadline for filing a motion under either Rule 59(b) or (e) is 28 days. Fed.R.Civ.P. 59. Carter filed her Motion for Relief from Final Judgment on September 5, 2019, only 27 days after this court entered judgment on August 9, 2019. As stated previously, Rule 60(b) does not provide relief as a threshold matter when a plaintiff still secures time to file a ...


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