United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
OPINION AND ORDER
William C. Lee, Judge United States District Court
matter is before the Court on the Plaintiff's Rule 54(b)
Motion to Reconsider and Amend Judgment (DE 59). The
Defendants, the City of Fort Wayne and six of its police
officers, filed a response in opposition to the motion (DE
60) and Martin filed a reply (DE 61). For the reasons
discussed below, the motion is GRANTED as to the
Plaintiff's claims for excessive force and battery
against Defendant Barry Pruser and Martin may proceed on
those claims. The motion is DENIED as to the Plaintiff's
claim for illegal search and seizure of his vehicle and that
claim remains pending.
underlying facts of this case were recounted in great detail
in this Court's Opinion and Order entered on January 12,
2017 (DE 58) and in the parties' briefs that were the
subjects of that Order. In that opinion, which addressed
several issues raised by the parties' previous cross
motions for summary judgment, the Court granted summary
judgment in favor of the Defendant officers on Martin's
Fourth Amendment claims against them for excessive force, and
denied Martin's motion for partial summary judgment and
the Defendants' motion for summary judgment on his Fourth
Amendment illegal search and seizure claim. Martin is asking
the Court to revisit both of those conclusions. More
specifically, Martin presents the following arguments: 1) The
Court should “reconsider and amend its Order . . .
concerning his excessive force and battery claims against
Defendant Officer Barry Pruser. . . . [T]he Court erred in
concluding that the primary events underlying these
particular claims were captured on video and, hence,
appropriate for summary disposition. Rather, these events
were not captured on video and evidence presented concerning
these claims creates genuinely disputed issues of material
fact that necessitate trial by jury.” Plaintiff's
motion to reconsider, p. 1; 2) The Court should reconsider
its conclusion denying Plaintiff's motion for partial
summary judgment on his illegal search and seizure claim
because “while the Court properly determined that
United States v. Duguay, 93 F.3d 346 (7th Cir. 1996)
is the law, the Court wrongly determined that there were
genuine issues of material fact that foreclosed the
full application of Duguay.” Id., p.
Defendants respond by arguing that “the fact that this
Court considered and rejected Martin's evidence and
arguments does not provide a basis for this Court to use its
limited discretionary power to reconsider its prior
determination” on this issue. Defendants'
Response, p. 2. They argue that Martin is relying solely on
“his self-serving affidavit [to] show that the force
used was unreasonable under the circumstances[, ]” and
that that is an insufficient reason to seek reconsideration.
Id. As to Martin's search and seizure claims,
the Defendants argue that “[t]his Court thoroughly
addressed the summary judgment evidence in the context of
Duguay and held that it is for a jury to determine
if the vehicle seizure was reasonable under the circumstances
. . . . Martin provides no sound basis for the Court to
change its reasoning.” Id.
Rule 54(b), an order adjudicating “fewer than all the
claims or rights and liabilities of fewer than all the
parties . . . may be revised at any time before the entry of
a judgment adjudicating all the claims and all the
parties' rights and liabilities.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
54(b). As a sister court explained recently:
Courts have the inherent power to reconsider non-final
orders, as justice requires, before entry of judgment.
See Moses H. Cone Mem'l Hosp. v. Mercury Constr.
Corp., 460 U.S. 1, 12, 103 S.Ct. 927, 74 L.Ed.2d 765
(1983); Sims v. EGA Prods., Inc., 475 F.3d 865, 870
(7th Cir. 2007). Motions to reconsider interlocutory orders
“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).
“A manifest error is not demonstrated by the
disappointment of the losing party. It is the wholesale
disregard, misapplication, or failure to recognize
controlling precedent.” Oto v. Metro. Life Ins.
Co., 224 F.3d 601, 606 (7th Cir. 2000) (internal
citations omitted). Because the standards for reconsideration
are exacting, the Seventh Circuit has stressed that
appropriate issues for reconsideration “rarely arise
and the motion to reconsider should be equally rare.”
Bank of Waunakee v. Rochester Cheese Sales, Inc.,
906 F.2d 1185, 1191 (7th Cir. 1990).
Bd. of Trustees of Univ. of Illinois v. Micron Tech.,
Inc., -F.Supp.3d-, 2017 WL 1164483, at *5 (C.D.Ill. Mar.
28, 2017). Motions to reconsider are disfavored since
“‘the court's orders are not mere first
drafts, subject to revision and reconsideration at a
litigant's pleasure.'” Lock Realty
Corp. IX v. U.S. Health LP, 2010 WL 148296, at *1
(N.D.Ind. Jan. 13, 2010) (quoting United States
Securities and Exch. Comm'n v. National Presto Indus.,
Inc., 2004 WL 1093390, at *2 (N.D.Ill. Apr.28, 2004)).
“A party seeking reconsideration can't introduce
new evidence or legal theories that could have been presented
earlier or simply rehash previously rejected
arguments.” Id.; see also, Katz-Crank v.
Haskett, 2014 WL 3507298, at *2 (S.D.Ind. July 14, 2014)
(“A court may grant a motion to reconsider where a
movant demonstrates a manifest error of law or fact; however,
a motion to reconsider is not an occasion to make new
arguments.). The Defendants oppose Martin's motion
because they claim he is merely trying to get a second bite
at the apple, and that's partly correct. But Martin also
argues, correctly the Court concludes, that a credibility
issue exists regarding his claims against Pruser and the
Court should vacate its previous order and permit him to go
forward with those claims.
Excessive force and battery claims against Officer
Second Amended Complaint (DE 22) Martin asserted Fourth
Amendment excessive force claims and state law battery claims
against the Defendant officers, alleging that they used
unreasonable physical force when they arrested him on June
27, 2014. The Court dismissed all of those claims in its
previous order. Martin challenges this ruling only as to
Officer Barry Pruser, the officer who handcuffed him and who,
according to Martin, used excessive force when doing so. In
his Second Amended Complaint, Martin describes the incident
As Plaintiff was on his knees and handcuffed, Officer Pruser
then stuck his foot onto Plaintiff's right calf muscle
and pressed it down into the gravel/rocks for no reason.
Plaintiff protested as to Officer Pruser's use of
excessive force and asked why he was pressing his foot onto
his leg. Officer Pruser became more angry, and grabbed
Plaintiff by the neck in a bear hug grip and began choking
the Plaintiff, even though he was handcuffed and on his
knees. Plaintiff protested again and asked why Pruser was
choking him when he did nothing wrong. Officer Pruser told
Plaintiff to shut up again.
Amended Complaint, p. 3. Martin contends that these actions
by Pruser were sufficiently severe to constitute a violation
of his Fourth Amendment right to be free from excessive
force. The Court concluded differently the first time around,
determining that none of the officers' actions were
objectively unreasonable under the circumstances. Opinion and
Order, pp. 11-12. The Court, after recounting the
circumstances of Martin's arrest in great detail,
concluded that “[g]iven the totality of the
circumstances that existed during Martin's encounter with
the Defendant officers, virtually off of which is captured on
the video and audio recordings in evidence in this case, and
even drawing all reasonable inferences in his favor, no
reasonable juror could find that the use of force to
effectuate Martin's arrest was unconstitutionally
excessive.” Id., p. 19. This is where Martin
claims the Court got it wrong-and he has a point, especially
in the context of summary judgment. While it is true that
almost all of the encounter between Martin and the Defendant
officers was captured on videotape ...