United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
JEFFREY COLE, Magistrate Judge.
On June 5, 2014, after months of failures by the plaintiff to have filed his long overdue response to the defendant's motion for summary judgment, [Dkt. # 171], the defendant moved for a ruling on the motion. [Dkt. #206]. On June 20, that motion was granted, and the ruling on the motion for summary judgment issued. [Dkt. #212]. See Moore v. Pipefitters Association Local Union 597, U.A., 2014 WL 2808992 (N.D.Ill. 2014)[Dkt. # 213]. Judgment against Mr. Moore was entered on that date. [Dkt. #214].
On July 21st, thirty-one days after the entry of summary judgment against him, and four months after his response to the motion was initially due - five months if one counts the 30 day period between the date the briefing schedule was set and the March 18 due date for filing - Mr. Moore filed three motions. The first seeks "reconsideration" of what Mr. Moore describes as a "Ruling Regarding His Medical Condition. [Dkt. #215]. The second seeks "reconsideration" of what Mr. Moore calls "Unresolver [sic] Discovery Issues." [Dkt. #216]. The third is captioned "Limited Response to Court's Ruling on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment." [Dkt. # 217].
Consistent with Plaintiff's method of prosecuting his case, these late filings attempt to blame a number of persons and circumstances plaintiff believes responsible for the shortcomings in his case and want of evidence, including the two sets of lawyers, who represented him at various times in the case. Mr. Moore also accuses them of being personally hostile toward, and of having mistreated him, even though it was solely through their efforts that he was belatedly permitted to add a new legal claim of disparate impact and have discovery re-opened to pursue that claim, including the ability to pursue expert discovery. [ See briefing and ruling history at Dkt. # 123-125, 131-135, 137].
But the real focus of the motions is on the defendant and the court for their supposed insensitivity to his claimed physical difficulties, which, he insists, made it impossible for him to respond to the motion for summary judgment in the five months between the date on which the motion was filed and July 21st when the current trio of motions were filed. Nothing in the current motions alters in the slightest the conclusion in the June 20, 2014 Memorandum Opinion granting the defendant's motion to rule on the pending summary judgment motion that "[t]he indisputable facts surrounding this case compel the conclusion that Mr. Moore is attempting to absolve himself of his obligation to pursue his own case and to abide by reasonable deadlines. He is seeking to forestall judgment in the case and leave the Union dangling while he pulls the strings of all the participants." Moore, 2014 WL 2808992, at 2.
This determination was not made casually or precipitously. There were multiple submissions from the parties on the topic of his medical condition, and multiple hearings on this subject were held between January and June 20, 2014, when the judgment order was entered. [ See Dkt.# 166, 177, 178, 185, 186, 188, 192, 203, 205, and 208]. The evidence relating to Mr. Moore's medical situation was exhaustively examined in the Moore opinion in order to determine whether to grant or deny the defendant's motion for a ruling on the summary judgment motion, itself.
As the June 20 Memorandum Opinion concluded, the evidence conclusively showed that Mr. Moore's arthroscopic knee surgery on May 20, 2014 a month after the response to the motion for summary judgment was originally due, Moore, 2014 WL 28008992 at * 6-7 (two months if one includes the month Mr. Moore had in which to prepare the response) - did not prevent him from filing a response to the motion for summary judgement. Nor did the knee situation, itself. See the discussion in Moore, supra.
In his "Motion for Reconsideration of the Court's Ruling Regarding the Plaintiff's Medical Condition, " Mr. Moore asks for what he tendentiously describes as a "small respite to continue to recuperate [from his May 20 arthroscopic knee surgery] and [and this is new, to] schedule additional surgery, " presumably for a claimed hernia [although he does not say what the surgery is for], which, he fails to note, he said he canceled six months ago in February. Moore, 2014 WL 2808992 at * 4." [Dkt. # 215]. When the "additional surgery" will occur and the anticipated period of recovery are left to the imagination, as is the absence of medical support for the need for surgery, immediate or otherwise. And, the motion is silent on the critical question of when Mr. Moore might file his response to the motion for summary judgment, if his Motion for Reconsideration was granted. As Judge Posner said in another context, "[t]he [motion's] silence is deafening." Muhammad v. Oliver, 547 F.3d 874, 877 (7th Cir. 2008).
In sum, Mr. Moore continues to demand what he has demanded since March 18, 2014 a postponement of indeterminate duration, even though there is insufficient supporting medical evidence from which it can be determined that Mr. Moore was and continues to be medically incapable of responding to the motion for summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit has been unreceptive to demands for what are, in effect, indefinite continuances. See United States. v. Farr, 297 F.3d 651, 657 (7th Cir.2002)("... we refuse to even consider, much less adopt, a rule that might suggest that a trial court should tolerate a calculating and mischievous defendant and grant indefinite continuances to a defendant who refuses to cooperate with his attorney. The record clearly establishes that the trial judge went out of his way in granting Farr two continuances and that the government likewise was more than considerate in providing its work product to Farr's counsel to assist with his defense. The trial judge's action in denying Farr's motion to postpone the trial a third time falls far short of meeting the abuse of discretion standard."); United States. v. Chiappetta, 289 F.3d 995, 999 (7th Cir. 2002).
Mr. Moore's pro se status does not entitle him to the kind of general dispensation from the rules of procedure and court imposed deadlines he seeks to accord himself. Moore, 2014 WL 2808992 at *7. See also infra at 12. Nor does it exempt him from the Seventh Circuit's stern admonition that "[l]awyers and litigants who decide that they will play by rules of their own invention will find that the game cannot be won." United States v. Golden Elevator, Inc., 27 F.3d 301, 302 (7th Cir. 1994).
A. Standards For Review
Motions challenging a judgment are generally considered pursuant to Rules 59(e) or 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 59(e) permits a motion to alter or amend a judgment to be filed no later than 28 days after entry of the judgment. The 28-day period specified in the Rule is unyielding. Carlson v. CSX Transp., Inc., 2014 WL 3361072, 4 (7th Cir.2014); Calligan v. Wilson, 362 Fed.Appx. 543, 546 (7th Cir.2009); Justice v. Town of Cicero, 682 F.3d 662 (7th Cir.2012); Vesely v. Armslist LLC, 2014 WL 3907114, 3 (7th Cir. 2014). And a party's status as a pro se litigant does not excuse his failure to meet the mandatory deadline for filing a Rule 59(e) motion. See Jones v. Phipps, 39 F.3d 158, 163 (7th Cir.1994).
When a motion is filed more than 28 days after the entry of judgment, whether the movant calls it a Rule 59(e) motion or a Rule 60(b) motion, or does not denominate any Rule, it is treated as a Rule 60(b) motion. See Banks v. Chicago Bd. of Educ., 750 F.3d 663, 666-667 (7th Cir.2014). It must be filed within a reasonable time after the entry of the challenged order or judgment. Rule 60(c).
A motion under Rule 59(e) need not be labeled as such or use the words "alter or amend" so long as it "instead uses a synonym, such as vacate' or reconsider.'" Borrero v. City of Chicago, 456 F.3d 698, 699 (7th Cir.2006). A court may grant a Rule 59(e) motion only if the movant presents newly discovered material evidence that was previously unavailable or establishes that the court made a manifest error of law. A Rule 59(e) motion ...