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Crowder v. Lariva

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

February 21, 2017

RICKY CROWDER, Plaintiff,
v.
LARIVA, et al., Defendants.

          ENTRY DISCUSSING MOTION TO RECONSIDER

          HON. JANE MAGNUS-STINSON, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         Plaintiff Ricky Crowder, an inmate at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana (“FCC Terre Haute”), brings this action pursuant to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”) and the theory recognized in Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). Crowder alleges that his right to practice his religion was violated when the defendants denied his request for a kosher diet. Crowder seeks declaratory and injunctive relief and monetary damages. The defendants previously moved for summary judgment and in the Entry of September 16, 2016, that motion was denied in part and granted in part. Further, based on the record before it at the time, the Court determined that summary judgment should issue in favor of Crowder as to his claims against defendant Chaplain Jones. The parties were therefore given notice and an opportunity to show why summary judgment should not be entered for Crowder. Defendant Chaplain Jones filed a motion to reconsider. For the reasons that follow, the motion for reconsideration [dkt 72] granted in part and denied in part and the order to show cause why summary judgment should not enter in Crowder's favor is discharged.

         I. Background

         In its ruling on the defendants' motion for summary judgment, the Court granted summary judgment in favor of defendants LaRiva, Holston, and Oliver because those defendants showed that they had no personal involvement in any of the alleged actions. Summary judgment was also granted to the extent that no monetary damages may be awarded against any individual defendant in his or her official capacity under RFRA.

         Summary judgment was denied in the following respects: Crowder's request for injunctive relief was permitted to proceed against the remaining defendant, Chaplain Jones, in his official capacity. The request for dismissal of Crowder's claims for monetary damages under RFRA against defendant Jones in his individual capacity was denied. Finally, the request for dismissal of Crowder's claims under the First Amendment and RFRA was denied because Jones failed to show that as a matter of law that Crowder's rights were not violated. The Court also held that Jones had not shown that he is entitled to qualified immunity from Crowder's claims.

         After denying in part the motion for summary judgment, the Court went on to explain that the facts before it related to Jones's liability were largely undisputed, showed liability on Jones's part, and appeared to compel a ruling in favor of Crowder. The Court therefore notified the parties of the possibility that summary judgment would issue in favor of Crowder on his claims against Jones. Because Crowder did not move for summary judgment, the Court provided the parties notice of its intentions pursuant to Rule 56 (f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. In doing so, the Court identified the following undisputed facts:

Crowder submitted a number of requests to receive a kosher diet. Crowder explained in those requests that, based on his religious beliefs, he required meals prepared with cookware different than that used to prepare pork. Those requests were repeatedly denied. These denials resulted in a substantial and unjustified burden on Crowder's rights under the First Amendment and RFRA.

         The Court then directed defendant Jones to show why, based on these facts, summary judgment should not be entered in Crowder's favor.

         II. Motion to Reconsider

         Jones seeks reconsideration of the Court's ruling. Jones states: “While the Court applied the appropriate summary judgment standard and construed the record in favor of Crowder with respect to Defendants' motion, the Court erred as a matter of law by then making a finding of personal liability against Chaplain Jones and imposing injunctive relief. . . .”

         A. Standard

         Motions to reconsider a summary judgment ruling are brought under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b), which permits revision of non-final orders. Galvan v. Norberg, 678 F.3d 581, 587 n.3 (7th Cir. 2012). “[M]otions to reconsider an order under Rule 54(b) are judged by largely the same standards as motions to alter or amend a judgment under Rule 59(e).” Woods v. Resnick, 725 F.Supp.2d 809, 827 (W.D.Wis. 2010). The Seventh Circuit has summarized the role of motions to reconsider as follows:

A motion for reconsideration performs a valuable function where the Court has patently misunderstood a party, or has made a decision outside the adversarial issues presented to the Court by the parties, or has made an error not of reasoning but of apprehension. A further basis for a motion to reconsider would be a controlling or significant change in the law or facts since the submission of the issue to the Court.

Bank of Waunakee v. Rochester Cheese Sales, Inc., 906 F.2d 1185, 1191 (7th Cir. 1990) (citations omitted). In other words, “Motions to reconsider ‘are not replays of the main event.'” Dominguez v. Lynch, 612 F. App'x 388, 390 (7th Cir. 2015) (quoting Khan v. Holder, 766 F.3d 689, 696 (7th Cir. 2014)). Motions to reconsider “serve a limited function: to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence.” Caisse Nationale de Credit Agricole v. CBI Indus., Inc., 90 F.3d 1264, 1269 (7th Cir. 1996) (emphasis added). A motion to reconsider “is not an appropriate forum for rehashing ...


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