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Michael F. Suhadolnik v. United States of America

July 1, 2011

MICHAEL F. SUHADOLNIK, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, DEFENDANT/COUNTERCLAIMANT,
v.
MICHAEL F. SUHADOLNIK, AND JAMES A. YAGOW, COUNTERCLAIM-DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sue E. Myerscough, U.S. District Judge:

Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

OPINION

The Court now considers Defendant/Counterclaimant United States of America's Supplemental Brief and Motion for Reconsideration and/or Clarification (the "Motion") (d/e 32). For the reasons stated below, the Motion is DENIED.

FACTS

On January 27, 2010, Plaintiff/Counterclaim-Defendant Michael F. Suhadolnik filed a Complaint against the Government for a $938.36 tax refund pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 6672. See d/e 1. On February 17, 2010, the Government moved for summary judgment on Mr. Suhadolnik's claim. The Government also sought summary judgment on a $263,628.71 counterclaim it filed against Mr. Suhadolnik, for his unpaid taxes.

On June, 1, 2011, the Court entered summary judgment for the Government as to Mr. Suhadolnik's $263,628.71 tax liability. See Opinion (d/e 31) at 23. However, because the Government presented no evidence or argument as to the validity of the $938.36 refund claim, the Court denied the Government's attempt to gain summary judgment on that claim.

On June 9, 2011, the Government filed the instant Motion, seeking "reconsideration and/or clarification. The Motion is fully briefed and ripe for ruling.

STANDARD

Motions for reconsideration can be filed under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) or Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b). A litigant who moves for reconsideration within 28 days of the entry of judgment has discretion to file under either procedural rule. Compare Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) (imposing 28-day deadline) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b) (imposing deadline of not more than one year after entry of judgment).

Rule 59(e) motions may not be used to cure defects that could have been addressed earlier. See Sigsworth v. City of Aurora, Ill., 487 F.3d 506, 511-12 (7th Cir. 2007). A Rule 59(e) motion will be granted only if there is a manifest error of law or fact, or newly discovered evidence. See Bordelon v. Chicago School Reform Bd. of Trustees, 233 F.3d 524, 529 (7th Cir. 2000). By comparison, Rule 60(b) motions are not meant to fix legal errors. See Marques v. Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, 286 F.3d 1014, 1017-18 (7th Cir. 2002) ("A legal error by the district court is not one of the specified grounds for [a Rule 60(b)] motion. In fact it is a forbidden ground").

Since the standard for obtaining relief under Rule 59(e) is considerably less than the standard required by Rule 60(b), "it behooves [a litigant] to indicate that [its] motion is under Rule 59(e)." See Ball v. City of Chicago, 2 F.3d 752, 760 (7th Cir. 1993). In violation of Local Rule 7.1(B)(1), the Government does not identify under which procedural rule it is moving. See id. ("Every motion raising a question of law . . . [must among other things] identif[y] the Rule under which the motion is filed."). Nevertheless, the Court will not only consider the Government's Motion, the Court will apply the more forgiving Rule 59(e) standard instead of the harsher Rule 60(b) standard.

ANALYSIS

The Government asserts: "[it] is unclear whether the Court's Opinion holds as a matter of undisputed fact that the Court has jurisdiction over Mr. Suhadolnik's claim, or whether it holds that Mr. Suhadolnik's allegations are sufficient to create a genuine issue of fact regarding jurisdiction that needs to be resolved." See Motion at 2. Contrary to the Government's assertion, the Court's Opinion recited the necessary elements of a refund claim, stated the relevant facts, and then held that the "factual allegations are sufficient to fulfill the jurisdictional requirements of a [26 U.S.C. § 6672] refund claim." See Opinion (d/e 31) at 15-16. As such, there is nothing that needs to be reconsidered or clarified in that regard.

As a secondary matter, the Government asks the Court to reconsider its refusal to grant the Government summary judgment as to Mr. Suhadolnik's refund claim. See Motion at 3. The Government contends that summary judgment should have been entered in its favor because: ". . . Mr. Suhadolnik [failed] to come forward with sufficient evidence to support his jurisdictional ...


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