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Jones v. United States

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia

May 16, 2018

UNITED STATES, et al., Defendants.



         I. BACKGROUND

         On March 20, 2015, the pro se plaintiff, Michael Anthony Jones ("Jones"), filed a civil rights complaint against a number of defendants concerning his medical care at U.S.P. Hazelton (Dkt. No. 1-1) . Jones brought his initial complaint against the defendants in their individual capacities pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971) (Dkt. No. 11).

         The Court referred the matter to the Honorable Robert W. Trumble, United States Magistrate Judge, for initial screening and a Report and Recommendation ("R&R"). By order entered on July 20, 2015, Magistrate Judge Trumble notified Jones that "a Bivens complaint and a FTCA complaint are two separate causes of action, " and that, to the extent Jones was attempting to raise a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act, "he must file a form complaint and [ ]incur a separate filing fee" (Dkt. No. 35 at 1) . On October 1, 2015, Jones filed an additional complaint in this same case asserting an FTCA claim against the United States of America (Dkt. No. 62).

         On November 17, 2016, Magistrate Judge Trumble issued an R&R, which concluded that Jones failed to state a valid Bivens claim and also failed to file a screening certificate of merit pursuant to West Virginia Code § 55-7B-6(c), a necessary prerequisite to filing his FTCA claim (Dkt. No. 138). After finding no clear error, the Court adopted the R&R in its entirety (Dkt. No. 149) and denied Jones' motion for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 114). It also granted the defendants' motion to dismiss (Dkt. No. 92), dismissed Jones' Bivens claim with prejudice, and dismissed his FTCA claim without prejudice (Dkt. No. 132).

         Jones appealed the Court's dismissal of his complaint to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (Dkt. Nos. 156; 164), which on August 1, 2017, dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction (Dkt. No. 170). Now pending is Jones' self-styled "Motion for Relief (Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b) (1)- (3))" (Dkt. No. 175).


         Jones seeks relief pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60 (b), which allows the Court to "relieve a party . . . from a final judgment, order, or proceeding" for:

(1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect; (2) newly discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence, could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b); (3) fraud (whether previously called intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party; (4) the judgment is void; (5) the judgment has been satisfied, released, or discharged; it is based on an earlier judgment that has been reversed or vacated; or applying it prospectively is no longer equitable; or (6) any other reason that justifies relief.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(1)-(6). A movant under Rule 60(b) must "have a meritorious claim or defense and the opposing party must not be unfairly prejudiced by having the judgment set aside." Aikens v. Ingram, 652 F.3d 496, 501 (4th Cir. 2011).

         A Rule 60 (b) motion may also be construed as a motion for reconsideration. "[T]he purpose of a motion for reconsideration is to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence. . . . Where evidence is not newly discovered, a party may not submit that evidence in support of a motion for reconsideration." Harsco Corp. v. Zlotnicki, 779 F.2d 907, 909 (3d Cir. 1985), cert, denied, 476 U.S. 1171 (1986). "[A] motion to reconsider is appropriate where the court has obviously misapprehended a party's position or the facts or applicable law, or where the party produces new evidence that could not have been obtained through the exercise of due diligence." Prudential Securities, Inc. v. LaPlant, 151 F.R.D. 678, 679 (D.Kan. 1993). A general principle applied in the Rule 60 (b) context is that "disposition of a motion under Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b) is within the sound discretion of the district court." Evans v. United Life & Ace. Ins. Co., 871 F.2d 466, 472 (4th Cir. 1989) (citing Universal Film Exchanges, Inc. v. Lust, 479 F.2d 573, 576 (4th Cir. 1973) .


         Although Jones cites generally to subsections (1) through (3) as the bases on which the Court should grant relief under Rule 60 (b), he fails to explain how any of these provisions relate to the Court's prior order dismissing his case. Rather, Jones argues that he is entitled to relief because he "was not appointed counsel for the purpose of obtaining the necessary expert health care professional certification required" to pursue his FTCA claim, and because the Court "did not take into consideration [his] inability to make properly researched responses" about that claim, due to his incarceration at U.S.P. Hazelton. Id. at 2. Jones further argues that the Court improperly dismissed his claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), because "the defendant never responded to [it] and thus conceded the issue in [Jones'] favor." Id. Given the grounds on which Jones requests relief, the Court construes his Rule 60(b) motion as a motion for reconsideration.

         A. ...

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