United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
filed a motion for new trial or, in the alternative, for
reconsideration. Rec. Doc. 98. Defendants Charles Cook and
Joe Cehan filed a response in opposition, which was adopted
by defendants Jerry Larpenter and Cody Guilbeaux. Rec. Docs.
106, 109. Defendants Larpenter and Guilbeaux subsequently
filed a supplemental memorandum in opposition. Rec. Doc. 111.
For the reasons discussed below, IT IS
ORDERED that the motion is DENIED.
BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
facts of this case are laid out in greater detail in the
Order and Reasons granting defendants' motions for
summary judgment and are incorporated by reference here. Rec.
Docs. 95, 96. In brief, plaintiff filed a complaint against
defendants pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged
constitutional violations in connection with his arrest on
May 13, 2015. Rec. Doc. 1. Plaintiff alleged that defendant
officers used excessive force in his arrest and retaliated
against him for exercising his First Amendment Rights.
Id. at 4-6.
Court granted defendants' motions for summary judgment on
the basis of qualified immunity, finding plaintiff failed to
meet his burden of showing that defendants had violated
clearly established law. Rec. Docs. 95, 96. The Court
subsequently entered judgment in favor of defendants. Rec.
Doc. 97. Plaintiff now files the instant motion for new
trial, or in the alternative, motion for reconsideration.
seeks a new trial pursuant to Rule 59(a) on the grounds that
summary judgment in favor of defendants is against the weight
of the evidence, or in the alternative, reversal of the
judgment entered against him pursuant to Rule 59(e), on the
grounds that there is clearly established law supporting his
argument against defendants' qualified immunity defense.
Rec. Doc. 98. Plaintiff argues that federal jurisprudence
establishes that defendants violated his clearly established
rights. Rec. Doc. 98-1 at 3-6. Plaintiff provides, for the
first time in the instant motion, cases he asserts establish
a body of law showing plaintiff had a clearly established
right to: 1) be free from being pinned to the ground with an
officer's knees in his back, (citing Martinez-Aguero
v Gonzalez, 459 F.3d 618 (5th Cir. 2006), Cry v.
Dillard, 2017 WL 2172944 (S.D.Miss. May 16, 2017),
Davis v. Hinds County, Mississippi, 2017 WL 4228659
(S.D.Miss. Sept. 22, 2017), Alexander v. City of Round
Rock, 854 F.3d 298 (5th Cir.2017)); and 2) be free from
being yanked from a police vehicle and slammed against the
car while restrained (citing Bush v. Strain, 513
F.3d 492 (5th Cir. 2008), Curran v. Aleshire, 800
F.3d 656 (5th Cir. 2015), Scott v. Farris, 2005 WL
517500 (E.D. La. Feb. 18, 2005), Alexander v. City of
Round Rock, 854 F.3d 298 (5th Cir.2017)). Id.
Therefore, plaintiff argues that any reasonable police
officer would be on notice that defendant officers'
conduct violated plaintiff's clearly established rights
and defendants are not entitled to qualified immunity.
Id. at 7-8. Additionally, plaintiff cites a case
that he asserts clearly establishes his right to be free from
retaliation against his protected speech after his arrest and
placement in the police vehicle. Id. at 9 (citing
White v. Jackson, 2014 WL 99976 (N.D. Tex. Jan. 10,
59(e) motion calls into question the correctness of a
judgment. In re Transtexas Gas Corp., 303
F.3d 571, 581 (5th Cir. 2002). Rule 59(e) serves “the
narrow purpose of allowing a party to correct manifest errors
of law or fact or to present newly discovered
evidence.” Basinkeeper v. Bostick, 663
Fed.Appx. 291, 294 (5th Cir. 2016) (quoting Waltman v.
Int'l Paper Co., 875 F.2d 468, 473 (5th Cir. 1989)).
Amending a judgment is appropriate under Rule 59(e):
“(1) where there has been an intervening change in the
controlling law; (2) where the movant presents newly
discovered evidence that was previously unavailable; or (3)
to correct a manifest error of law or fact.”
Berezowsky v. Rendon Ojeda, 652 Fed.Appx. 249, 251
(5th Cir. 2016) (quoting Demahy v. Schwarz Pharma,
Inc., 702 F.3d 177, 182 (5th Cir. 2012)). Because Rule
59(e) has a “narrow purpose, ” the Fifth Circuit
has “observed that [r]econsideration of a judgment
after its entry is an extraordinary remedy that should be
used sparingly.” Id. (quoting Templet v.
HydroChem Inc., 367 F.3d 473, 479 (5th Cir. 2004)).
Thus, “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.” Id. (quoting Templet, 367
F.3d at 479).
of the previous judgment is not appropriate because
plaintiff's newly offered legal arguments could have been
made at the time of his original filing. The entirety of
plaintiff's motion consists of providing caselaw to
remedy the deficiency of his previous responses to
defendants' motions for summary judgment, which failed to
identify existing precedent that clearly established his
allegedly violated rights. Plaintiff seeks to now show the
Court that a body of relevant caselaw exists which places the
lawfulness of defendant officer's conduct beyond debate,
as required by the Supreme Court when a plaintiff seeks to
defeat a qualified immunity defense. See D.C. v.
Wesby, 138 S.Ct. 577, 581 (2018).
none of the cases plaintiff cites to in support of his motion
were published after this Court's judgment and should
have been included in plaintiff's original opposition.
When defendants invoked the qualified immunity defense in
their motions for summary judgment, the burden shifted to the
plaintiff to prove that the defense was not available to them
by showing that they had violated a right that was
“clearly established” at the time of the
defendant officials' conduct. See Vann v. City of
Southaven, 884 F.3d 307, 309 (5th Cir. 2018) (quoting
Hanks v. Rogers, 853 F.3d 738, 744 (5th Cir. 2017)).
Supreme Court precedent required plaintiff to establish this
element by showing that a body of relevant case law and
existing precedent placed the lawfulness of defendants'
actions beyond debate. See D.C. v. Wesby, 138 S.Ct. 577,
581 (2018) . Summary judgment was granted in this case
because plaintiff failed to show that he had a clearly
established right supported by relevant case law in his
response. A Rule 59(e) motion does not provide plaintiff a
second chance to oppose defendants' motions for summary
judgment by making such a showing. Plaintiff does not
identify an intervening change in controlling law, newly
discovered evidence that was previously unavailable, or a
manifest error. Rather, plaintiff submits legal arguments for
consideration that were available to him at the time of his
original filing, but which he failed to make. However,
“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.” Id. (quoting Templet, 367
F.3d at 479). Therefore, plaintiff has not identified a
proper basis upon which to alter or amend this Court's
 This motion is not properly considered
a motion for “new trial” because there was no
trial. A motion for new trial under Rule 59(a) is appropriate
for cases that have been tried to a jury or to the Court.
Because the Court disposed of this case on motion for summary
judgment, the correct vehicle for reconsideration of the
Court's judgment is a motion to alter or amend a judgment
under Rule 59(e). See Montgomery v. Wells Fargo Bank,
N.A., 2011 WL 1870279, at *1 (N.D. Tex. May 16, 2011),
aff'd, 459 Fed.Appx. 424 (5th Cir. 2012) (“The
motion is not properly considered a motion for “new
trial” because there was no trial.”); Artemis
Seafood, Inc. v. Butcher's Choice, Inc. ., 1999 WL
1032798 (N.D.Tex. Nov.10, 1999) (Although denominated as a
motion for “new trial, ” it obviously is not such
a motion. As Rule 59(a) makes clear, a motion for new trial
is appropriate when the case has been tried to a jury or to
the court. The court disposed of this case on motion for
summary judgment.”); Jones v. W. Geophysical Co. of
Am., 669 F.2d 280, 282 (5th Cir. 1982) (“Although
the parties and the district court all proceeded to deal with
plaintiff's motion as one for “new trial, ”