United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division
CITIZENS FOR APPROPRIATE RURAL ROADS, INC., et al. Plaintiffs,
ANTHONY FOXX, et al. Defendants.
ORDER ON PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION
SARAH EVANS BARKER, JUDGE
This cause is before the Court on Plaintiffs’ “Rule 59 Motion for New Trial, to Alter or Amend, and for Reconsideration” [Docket No. 174], filed on April 28, 2014 pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is DENIED. Plaintiffs’ request to correct certain non-substantive clerical errors in the Court’s Order on summary judgment, which we construe as a motion pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(a), is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
We have set forth the facts of this case in our order on the parties’ cross motions for summary judgment [Docket No. 171], and it is not necessary for the resolution of this motion for us to re-examine them here.
Plaintiffs’ present motion concerns two of the Court’s prior orders. First, in an order issued on September 19, 2012, we granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss Counts 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8 of Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint. Docket No. 132. Second, in an order issued on March 31, 2014, we granted Defendants’ motion for summary judgment on the remaining counts of the Amended Complaint. Docket No. 171. The Court entered judgment in favor of Defendants contemporaneously with our summary judgment order resolving all outstanding disputes, Docket No. 172, and Plaintiffs filed this motion to amend judgment within the time frame prescribed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e).
Legal Analysis Standard of Review
Plaintiffs have filed this motion pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59, which establishes the guidelines under which parties may alter or amend final judgments. Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 59(e). In order to prevail on a Rule 59 motion, a party must “clearly establish” that: (1) the court committed a manifest error of law or fact, or (2) that newly discovered evidence precluded entry of judgment. Cincinnati Life Ins. Co. v. Beyrer, 722 F.3d 939, 954 (7th Cir. 2013); Harrington v. City of Chicago, 433 F.3d 542, 545–546 (7th Cir. 2006) (citing Romo v. Gulf Stream Coach, Inc., 250 F.3d 1119, 1122 n.3 (7th Cir. 2001)). A party cannot show that the court committed a “manifest error of law” simply by recapitulating its previously unsuccessful arguments; rather, it must demonstrate that the court’s ruling exhibited “wholesale disregard, misapplication, or failure to recognize controlling precedent.” Oto v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 224 F.3d 601, 606 (7th Cir. 2000).
Plaintiffs seek reconsideration of the Court’s dispositive orders in three respects. First, they argue that the Court dismissed Count 8 of the Amended Complaint erroneously in September 2012, and that they should accordingly be entitled to consideration of that count on the merits. Second, they contend that the Court erred in disregarding certain “whistleblower” statements that they believe would be probative of a number of their claims. Lastly, Plaintiffs urge that they should be considered the “prevailing party” on Count 11 for purposes of attorneys’ fees and costs, because the remedial agency actions that rendered their claim moot were actually prompted by their action in initiating this suit. In addition to their substantive arguments, Plaintiffs also seek alteration of the Court’s summary judgment order on several non-substantive points. We consider these arguments in turn.
I. Reinstatement of Count 8
Count 8 of Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint alleged that Defendants FHWA and INDOT had violated the Administrative Procedure Act by preparing Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) for Sections 3 and 4 of the I-69 project in bad faith. Docket No. 109 at ¶¶ 120–133. In their partial motion to dismiss, the Federal Defendants argued that all of Plaintiffs’ claims challenging the Section 3 Record of Decision (ROD) were time-barred under the applicable 180-day statute of limitations and thus subject to dismissal. See Docket No. 62 at ¶ 4 (citing 23 U.S.C. § 139(l)). Accepting Defendants’ argument, the Court dismissed Count 8 in its entirety- together with Counts 3, 4, 5, and 6. Docket No. 132 at 7–9. Plaintiffs now insist that the wholesale dismissal of Count 8 on statute of limitations grounds was error, because a number of the factual allegations contained in Count 8 pertain to the preparation of the EIS for Section 4 rather than Section 3, and thus were not time-barred under 23 U.S.C. § 139(l). Docket No. 175 at 2–3.
Plaintiffs’ bid to reinstate Count 8 fails for at least two reasons: they have waived any argument by waiting so long to seek reconsideration, and those portions of Count 8 not time-barred would still have been subject to dismissal on ripeness grounds.
As the United States Supreme Court has observed, Rule 59 “may not be used to relitigate old matters, or to raise arguments or present evidence that could have been raised prior to the entry of judgment.” Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker, 554 U.S. 471, 485 n.5 (2008) (quoting 11 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2810.1 (2d ed. 1995)). See also Moro v. Shell Oil Co., 91 F.3d 872, 876 (7th Cir. 1996) (holding that a Rule 59(e) motion is not “a vehicle for a party to undo its own procedural failures, and it certainly does not allow a party to introduce new evidence or advance arguments that could and should have been presented to the district court prior to the judgment”) (citing LB Credit Corp. v. Resolution Trust Corp., 49 F.3d 1263, 1267 (7th Cir. 1995)).
Whether rightly or wrongly decided, the Court’s September 2012 Order was quite clear: it dismissed Count 8 in its entirety. See Docket No. 132 at 7–9. If Plaintiffs somehow misunderstood the ruling’s significance at first, they had an opportunity to respond when Defendants expressly moved for summary judgment on all of Plaintiffs’ remaining claims. See Docket Nos. 161, 163. Instead, however, Plaintiffs raised no objection whatsoever to the dismissal of Count 8 in the 18 months that passed between the Court’s September 2012 order and the entry of judgment in March 2014. Relief may be denied under Rule 59(e) when the movant has failed to exercise due diligence. See Fox v. Am. Airlines, Inc., 389 F.3d 1291, 1296 (D.C. Cir. 2004). Under these circumstances, we conclude that Plaintiffs have waived any argument for reconsideration of the Court’s ruling. See Schoenman v. Fed. Bureau of Investigation, 857 F.Supp.2d 76, 84–85 (D.D.C. 2012) (denying Rule 59(e) relief where the movant waited an “extraordinary eleven months and two weeks, and until after the Court entered a final judgment, before he sought ...