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Peter-Takang v. Department of Children and Family Services

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

July 6, 2015




Before the Court are the following motions filed by Plaintiff Patricia Peter-Takang ("Plaintiff"): (1) "Motion for Reconsideration re Order on Motion to Dismiss Case;"[1] (2) "Motion for Default Judgment as to Touro Infirmary Hospital;"[2] and (3) "Motion for Permissive Joinder of Parties."[3] Having considered the motions, the memoranda, the record, and the applicable law, the Court will deny each motion.

I. Background

On May 15, 2014, Plaintiff, appearing pro se, filed the complaint in this matter, wherein she alleges that she gave birth to twins at Touro Infirmary Hospital ("Touro Hospital") and that they died in utero on July 20, 2002.[4] Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Glen Steeb ("Dr. Steeb"), allegedly her physician at the time, and/or Touro Hospital disposed of their bodies without her authorization. On August 13, 2005, according to the complaint, Plaintiff learned from an article published in the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper that twin toddlers were found walking down Chef Menteur Highway in Louisiana.[5] Believing that the toddlers were her twins, Plaintiff approached the Department of Children and Family Services ("DCFS") to request DNA testing to verify "that these children were my biological twins."[6] The request was denied, and Plaintiff filed this lawsuit on May 15, 2014 against Suzy Sonnier ("Sonnier") in her official capacity as Secretary of DCFS, Touro Hospital, and Dr. Steeb. Before the Court are three motions filed by Plaintiff; the Court will consider each in turn.

II. Motion for Reconsideration

First, Plaintiff filed a "Motion for Reconsideration re Order on Motion to Dismiss Case, "[7] wherein she seeks reconsideration of the Court's October 1, 2014 Order granting Sonnier's unopposed Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b).[8] The Court granted Sonnier's motion because Plaintiff failed to state the basis of the Court's jurisdiction and otherwise failed to state a claim against Sonnier upon which relief may be granted.[9]

A. Parties' Arguments

Plaintiff argues that she neglected to timely file opposition to Sonnier's motion because she had oral surgery on September 19, 2014, and that "[o]ral surgery is an excusable neglect for my failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted" pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 6(b)(1).[10] Plaintiff also states that she attempted to file a "Motion for Extending Time" on October 2, 2014, but was informed by the "Pro-Se Clerk" that her case had been dismissed the previous day.[11]

In response, Sonnier argues Plaintiff was dilatory in seeking an extension of time to file her response memorandum because Plaintiff waited five weeks after the motion to dismiss was filed, and nine days after this Court issued its Order, before requesting an extension of time to file.[12] Sonnier argues that this delay does not support a finding of good cause or warrant an extension of time based on a theory of excusable neglect.[13] Sonnier additionally argues that reconsideration of the Court's October 1, 2014 Order is unwarranted because the Eleventh Amendment bars both suits for injunctive relief against a state official in her official capacity and suits against a state agency where the agency did not waive immunity.[14] According to Sonnier, a plaintiff asserting a claim not based in contract or personal injury against the State must first seek legislative approval before filing suit, and here, there are no facts in the record suggesting that Plaintiff sought such authorization from the Louisiana Legislature.[15] Finally, Sonnier argues that dismissal of the complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) was warranted because Plaintiff fails to allege facts which are believable, or to meet the pleading requirements set forth in Rule 8(a).[16]

With leave of the Court, Plaintiff filed an amended "Motion for Reconsideration" on December 8, 2014, wherein she states:

Plaintiff states that Touro Infirmary Hospital had knowledge that Dr. Glenn Steeb had been accused of a black women [sic] and her unborn baby dying in surgery where Dr. Steeb was the surgeon and this happened in Touro Infirmary Hospital. He was ordered to treatment. I had the right to safety while in Touro hospital and my twins had the same rights. I also had the rights to obtain my twins living or dead. Dr. Steeb told me that my twins was dead and I asked for their bodies and was denied; I had the rights to my property - the twins. The Children and Family Services denied my rights to my twin [sic] through DNA testing.[17]

In support of her argument that her rights have been violated, Plaintiff cites several provisions of "the Articles of the Declaration of Rights."[18]

B. Law and Analysis

The Court has "considerable discretion" in deciding whether to grant a motion for reconsideration, but must "strike the proper balance between two competing imperatives: (1) finality and (2) the need to render just decisions on the basis of all the facts."[19] This Court's discretion is further bounded by the Fifth Circuit's instruction that reconsideration is "an extraordinary remedy that should be used sparingly, "[20] with relief being warranted only when the basis for relief is "clearly establish[ed].[21] A motion for reconsideration is "not the proper vehicle for rehashing evidence, legal theories, or arguments that could have been offered or raised before the entry of judgment."[22] Rather, ...

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