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Collier v. Caraway

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

March 22, 2017

ANTHONY LEON COLLIER, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN F. CARAWAY, et al. Defendants.

          ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO RECONSIDER PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE A SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT

          Mark J. Dinsmore United States Magistrate Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to Reconsider Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File a Second Amended Complaint. [Dkt. 106.] Because Plaintiff cannot circumvent the Rule 72(a) time limitations for objecting to a Magistrate Judge's order by belatedly filing a motion for reconsideration, the Court DENIES IN PART Plaintiff's Motion.

         I. Background

         The relevant procedural history of this matter is sufficiently detailed in the Court's Order on Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File a Second Amended Complaint (“Order”) and need not be repeated here. [Dkt. 97 at 1-2.] In that Order, dated January 24, 2017, the Court denied Plaintiff's motion to amend his complaint to add a Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) claim as futile for failure to comply with the administrative exhaustion requirement prior to bringing suit. [Dkt. 97 at 2-6.] Plaintiff, by motion dated February 22, 2017, now asks the Court to reconsider its prior Order. [Dkt. 106.]

         II. Discussion

         Plaintiff argues that the Court erred in denying his motion to amend his complaint because his proposed FTCA claim would relate back to his amended complaint, filed after exhausting administrative remedies. In response, the Government Defendants argue that the motion for reconsideration is procedurally improper because Plaintiff seeks only to rehash previously rejected arguments and that the Court's Order properly denied leave to amend.

         While, “[t]echnically, a ‘Motion to Reconsider' does not exist under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, ” GHSC Assocs. Ltd. P'ship v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 29 Fed. App'x 382, 384 (7th Cir. 2002), the Rules do provide an avenue for challenging a nondispositive order rendered by a magistrate judge, see Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(a) provides: “A party may serve and file objections to the order within 14 days after being served with a copy. A party may not assign as error a defect in the order not timely objected to.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a) (emphasis added). While the fourteen-day deadline to object is not jurisdictional, such that the court may at any time exercise its discretion to review any interlocutory order, see Kruger v. Apfel, 214 F.3d 784, 786 (7th Cir. 2000), “the parties and the Court are not free to ignore” this deadline. Granite State Ins. Co. v. Pulliam Enterprises, Inc., No. 3:11-CV-432, 2015 WL 4946156, at *2-4 (N.D. Ind. Aug. 18, 2015). This is because “[t]o hold otherwise . . . would allow [p]laintiffs to circumvent the time limitation included in Rule 72(a)” and undermine important interests of fairness, efficiency, and finality. Bro-Tech Corp. v. Thermax, Inc., No. CIV. 05-CV-2330, 2007 WL 2234521, at *3 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 2, 2007). Only where a party demonstrates exceptionally good cause should a court exercise its discretion to permit a belated challenge to a magistrate judge's rulings beyond the fourteen-day window provided in Rule 72(a). Cf., e.g., Ammons-Lewis v. Metro. Water Reclamation Dist. of Greater Chicago, 543 F. App'x 591, 594-95 (7th Cir. 2013) (“By not filing timely objections, litigants typically waive their right to challenge on appeal the issues decided in a magistrate judge's [decision.]”); Autotech Techs. Ltd. P'ship v. Automationdirect.Com, Inc., 236 F.R.D. 396, 399 (N.D. Ill. 2006) (Cole, Mag. J.) (“Throughout the range of the law, there are time limits imposed on litigants at every stage of the case: some are mandatory and admit of no deviations; others are more flexible. But in each instance, lawyers who do not pay heed to deadlines do so at substantial peril to their and their clients' interests.”).

         Rule 72(a) is unambiguous and unequivocal: “A party may not assign as error a defect in the order not timely objected to.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(a). Plaintiff did not timely object to the Court's January 24, 2017 Order. Instead, Plaintiff waited until February 22, 2017, fifteen days after the Rule 72(a) objection deadline passed, to file the instant motion to reconsider. Plaintiff provides no explanation-let alone an explanation that would meet a good cause standard-for his failure to timely object. Plaintiff may not now circumvent Rule 72(a) by filing a motion challenging the Court's Order after the objection deadline has passed. The Court therefore DENIES Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration as untimely.[1]

         III. Conclusion

         Plaintiffs Motion to Reconsider Plaintiffs Motion for Leave to File a Second Amended Complaint [Dkt. 106] attempts to circumvent the Rule 72(a) time limits to rehash previously rejected arguments. The Court therefore DENIES IN PART Plaintiffs Motion.[2]

         SO ORDERED.

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Notes:

[1] Even if Plaintiff had timely filed its motion for reconsideration, Plaintiff has not demonstrated that he is entitled to the relief sought. Motions for reconsideration are appropriate only where the court makes an error of apprehension, where the court makes a ruling beyond the issues presented by the parties, or to address a significant change in the law or facts. Bank of Waunakee v. Rochester Cheese Sales, Inc.906 F.2d 1185, 1191-92 (7th ...


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