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McManus v. Norwood

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

September 25, 2018

JOSEPH MCMANUS
v.
ELLA NORWOOD ET AL.

         SECTION: “H”

          ORDER AND REASONS

          JANE TRICHE MILAZZO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court are Plaintiff's Motion for Recusal (Doc. 41), Motion for Reconsideration (Doc. 38), and Motion to Remove an Order of Protective Custody (“OPC”) (Doc. 42). For the following reasons, Plaintiff's Motions are DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         This Court's previous Order and Reasons granting Defendants' Motion to Dismiss details the background of this consolidated action.[1] The details need not be repeated here. Nevertheless, some developments have occurred since then. On August 10, 2018-the same day it issued the Order and Reasons granting Defendants' Motion to Dismiss-this Court issued a judgment dismissing all claims in the consolidated action.[2] On September 10, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Reconsideration asking this Court to review its previous Order and Reasons granting Defendants' Motion to Dismiss all Plaintiff's claims.[3] In general, Plaintiff argues that this Court failed to give sufficient weight to certain evidence and misapplied the applicable law. Defendants oppose, arguing that Plaintiff untimely filed his Motion for Reconsideration and failed to allege sufficient grounds to warrant this Court's reversal of its own previous decision.[4] Plaintiff subsequently filed a Motion to Recuse this Court from the case and a Motion “to remove the order of protective custody.” This Court will address Plaintiff's Motion for Recusal first before analyzing his Motion for Reconsideration and Motion to Remove the Order of Protective Custody.

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         I. Plaintiff's Motion for Recusal

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 455(a), “[a]ny justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” Nevertheless, “[a] motion for recusal is within the discretion of the district judge.”[5] “A party seeking such disqualification must show that, if a reasonable man knew of all the circumstances, he would harbor doubts about the judge's impartiality.”[6]“[S]peculative allegations of potential bias are not sufficient to warrant recusal.”[7]

         Plaintiff argues that this Court should recuse itself because “this judge do[es] not understand the law or the [U.S.] [C]onstitution.”[8] Plaintiff's disagreement with this Court's interpretation of the law is not sufficient grounds for recusal. As such, Plaintiff's Motion for Recusal is denied.

         II. Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration

         “There is no motion for ‘reconsideration' in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.”[9] Thus, depending on the time of filing, a motion to reconsider “is evaluated either as a motion to ‘alter or amend a judgment' under Rule 59(e) or as a motion for ‘relief from a final judgment, order, or proceeding' under Rule 60(b).”[10] Because the instant Motion was filed more than 28 days after the entry of judgment, it is analyzed as a motion for relief under Rule 60.[11]

         “Rule 60(b)(1) provides that a party may be relieved from a final judgment for ‘mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect.'”[12] Among the other enumerated reasons to grant relief are when new evidence emerges that could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b), when fraud occurs, or when there exists “any other reason that justifies relief.”[13] The decision of whether to grant or deny a Rule 60(b) motion is within the trial court's sound discretion.[14] Such a motion must be filed “within a reasonable time” of judgment.[15]

         Because this Court construes Plaintiff's Motion as a Rule 60 motion for relief, Defendant's argument that Plaintiff's Motion is untimely under Rule 59 is moot. And because Plaintiff filed his Motion approximately one month after judgment, the filing is timely under Rule 60's reasonableness standard. Since Plaintiff's Motion is timely, the Court will now address Plaintiff's arguments that this Court improperly dismissed his claims against all Defendants.

         This Court dismissed the claims against Defendants Dennis Thomas, Charles McManus Jr., and Ellamae Norwood for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.[16] In his Motion for Reconsideration, Plaintiff does not challenge the merits of this ruling but instead argues that this Court failed to consider factual allegations he made to support his claims against the defendants.[17]These allegations have no bearing on this Court's dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. ...


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