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Valizadeh v. Doe

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division

May 23, 2017

DARYUSH VALIZADEH, Plaintiff,
v.
JANE DOE a/k/a “Susan” and JOHN AND JANE DOES 2-10, all whose true names are unknown, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING NONPARTY SUBPOENA RECIPIENT JANE GARI'S MOTION TO RECONSIDER NON-PREJUDICIAL EFFECT OF DISMISSAL, TO DISMISS WITH PREJUDICE, AND TO IMPOSE SANCTIONS

          MARY GEIGER LEWIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This is a defamation case in which Plaintiff alleges Jane S. Gari (Gari), a nonparty to this action, posted a story (the Story) on her website wrongfully accusing Plaintiff of raping Defendant Jane Doe a/k/a “Susan” (Susan). Plaintiff's Complaint (Complaint) alleges the Court has subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Pending before the Court is Gari's Motion to Reconsider Non-Prejudicial Effect of Dismissal, to Dismiss with Prejudice, and to Impose Sanctions (Gari's Motion to Reconsider).

         In Gari's Motion to Reconsider, she requests the Court reconsider and vacate its March 24, 2017, Order (Order) granting Plaintiff's Motion to Dismiss without Prejudice (Motion to Dismiss) and its corresponding judgment of the same date (Judgment) dismissing this action without prejudice, and enter a new order holding Plaintiff has voluntarily dismissed this case under Federal Civil Procedure Rule 41 as well as a corresponding judgment of dismissal with prejudice. Gari also asks the Court sanction Plaintiff and his attorneys pursuant to its inherent authority to impose sanctions for bad faith conduct. Having carefully considered the Motion, Gari's supporting memorandum, the response, the reply, the record, and the applicable law, it is the judgment of the Court Gari's Motion to Reconsider will be denied.

         II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         This case arises out of Gari's posting of the Story on her website. Plaintiff maintains the accusation he raped Susan is false. Plaintiff's Complaint asserts claims against Susan and John and Jane Does 2-10 for defamation and false light in connection with the Story. ECF No. 1. Plaintiff chose not to name Gari as a defendant. See id.

         Plaintiff originally filed this action in South Dakota, but he voluntarily dismissed it. Plaintiff filed his Complaint with this Court on September 13, 2016. Id.

         On September 15, 2016, Plaintiff filed an Ex Parte Motion for Leave to Take Early Discovery (Motion for Early Discovery) in which he sought permission to serve subpoenas on certain individuals, including Gari, who Plaintiff believed had information that would allow him to identify the Doe Defendants. ECF No. 5. The Court issued an ex parte order granting the Motion for Early Discovery on October 26, 2016 (Order Granting Early Discovery), ECF No. 9, and Gari subsequently served a subpoena on Gari.

         For reasons irrelevant to Gari's Motion to Reconsider, the Court ultimately unsealed the Motion for Early Discovery, unsealed and vacated the Order Granting Early Discovery, and granted Gari permission to file a response to Plaintiff's Motion for Early Discovery. ECF No. 24. The parties then filed numerous briefs and reports relating to the Motion for Early Discovery. ECF Nos. 28, 29, 30, 33, 34, 35, 37, 38. In such filings, Gari questioned whether the Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this action and sought permission to depose and serve interrogatories upon Plaintiff for the purpose of investigating subject matter jurisdiction; Plaintiff opposed Gari's requests for discovery.

         On January 30, 2017, the Court entered an Order granting Gari permission to depose Plaintiff and propound fifteen interrogatories upon him regarding matters relevant to subject matter jurisdiction. ECF No. 39. The Order further stated the Court would hold Plaintiff's Motion for Early Discovery in abeyance pending the Court's determination of whether it has subject matter jurisdiction. Id.

         Plaintiff filed his Motion to Dismiss without Prejudice on March 23, 2017. ECF No. 51. In Plaintiff's Motion to Dismiss, he requested the Court dismiss the case without prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(h)(3). In the alternative, Plaintiff requested the Court dismiss the action for failure to serve the defendants as required by Rule 4(m). That same day, Plaintiff also filed a status report informing the Court he had failed to serve the defendants and stating he “stipulates to administrative dismissal of this action, without prejudice, for failure to serve as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(m).” ECF No. 50. On March 24, 2017, the Court issued the Order granting Plaintiff's Motion to Dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, ECF No. 52, and the Judgment dismissing this action without prejudice, ECF No. 53.

         Gari filed her Motion to Reconsider on March 24, 2017, shortly after entry of the Court's Order and Judgment. ECF No. 54. Pursuant to the Court's permission, ECF No. 55, Gari filed a memorandum in support of her Motion to Reconsider on March 31, 2017. ECF No. 56. Plaintiff filed a response in opposition on April 5, 2017, ECF No. 57, to which Gari replied on April 10, 2017, ECF No. 58. The Court, having been fully briefed on the relevant issues, is now prepared to discuss the merits of Plaintiff's Motion.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         There are only three limited bases for a district court to grant a Rule 59(e) motion to alter or amend judgment: “(1) to accommodate an intervening change in controlling law; (2) to account for new evidence not available at trial; or (3) to correct a clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice.” Hutchinson v. Staton, 994 F.2d 1076, 1081 (4th Cir. 1993). A Rule 59(e) motion “may not be used to relitigate old matters, or to raise arguments or present evidence that could have been raised prior to the entry of judgment.” Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker, 554 U.S. 471, 486 n.5 (2008) (internal quotation marks omitted). Further, “mere disagreement [with a district court's ruling] does not support a Rule 59(e) motion.” Hutchinson, 994 F.2d at 1082. “In general[, ] ...


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