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Carter v. Illinois Dep't of Corrections

July 16, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Herndon, Chief Judge


I. Introduction

Before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Relief From Judgment Under Rule 60(b) (Doc. 86), to which Defendants have responded in opposition (Doc. 87). Plaintiff asks the Court to reverse its order which granted Defendants' Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law -- made at the conclusion of Plaintiff's case-in-chief during trial -- reinstate his claims, grant a new trial and appoint "stand by" counsel to prepare him for trial. For the reasons discussed herein, the Court finds Plaintiff's arguments do not warrant his request for relief.

II. Legal Standard

Although Plaintiff moves for relief from judgment pursuant to FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 60(b), because the Court is to construe pro se pleadings more liberally than pleadings filed by attorneys, the Court will also need to determine whether Plaintiff's argument is more appropriately made pursuant to FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 59(e). See Bridges v. Gilbert, 557 F.3d 541, 546 (7th Cir. 2009). The Seventh Circuit has clarified that although motions filed after 28 days*fn1 of the rendition of the judgment are still analyzed under Rule 60(b), motions filed within 28 days of the rendition of judgment can be analyzed under either Rule 60(b) or Rule 59(e), depending upon the substance of the motion. See Obriecht v. Raemisch, 517 F.3d 489, 493 (7th Cir. 2008) ("[W]hether a motion filed within [28] days of the rendition of the judgment should be analyzed under Rule 59(e) or Rule 60(b) depends on the substance of the motion.... district courts should evaluate [the motion] based on the reasons expressed by the movant."). Plaintiff filed the instant motion less than 28 days after judgment was entered and therefore, either rule could technically be applicable.

Rule 59(e) motions serve a narrow purpose and must clearly establish either: (1) a manifest error of law or fact or (2) present newly discovered evidence. Moro v. Shell Oil Co., 91 F.3d 872, 876 (7th Cir. 1996); Federal Deposit Ins. Corp. v. Meyer, 781 F.2d 1260, 1268 (7th Cir. 1986); Publishers Resource, Inc. v. Walker-Davis Publications, Inc., 762 F.2d 557, 561 (7th Cir. 1985). "The rule essentially enables a district court to correct its own errors, sparing the parties and the appellate courts the burden of unnecessary appellate proceedings."Russell v. Delco Remy Div. of General Motors Corp., 51 F.3d 746, 749 (7th Cir. 1995) (citation omitted). The function of a motion to alter or amend a judgment is not to serve as a vehicle to re-litigate old matters or present the case under a new legal theory. Moro, 91 F.3d at 876 (citation omitted); King v. Cooke, 26 F.3d 720, 726 (7th Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 514 U.S. 1023 (1995). Moreover, the purpose of such a motion "is not to give the moving party another 'bite of the apple' by permitting the arguing of issues and procedures that could and should have been raised prior to judgment." Yorke v. Citibank, N.A. ( In re BNT Terminals, Inc.), 125 B.R. 963, 977 (N.D. Ill. 1990) (citations omitted). Rule 59(e) is not a procedural folly to be filed by a losing party who simply disagrees with the decision; otherwise, the Court would be inundated with motions from dissatisfied litigants. BNT Terminals, 125 B.R. at 977.

"'Rule 60(b) relief is an extraordinary remedy and is granted only in exceptional circumstances.'" Karraker v. Rent-A-Center, Inc., 411 F.3d 831, 837 (7th Cir. 2005)(quoting Cincinnati Ins. Co. v. Flanders Elec. Motor Serv., Inc., 131 F.3d 625, 628 (7th Cir. 1997)). A Rule 60(b) motion permits relief from a final judgment, order or proceeding when it is based on one of six specific grounds listed in the rule. See Talano v. Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation, Inc., 273 F.3d 757, 762 (7th Cir. 2001). Rule 60(b) allows a party to seek relief from a final judgment, order, or other proceeding for one of the following six reasons as set forth in the provision:

(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 ...

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