United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division
Sammi H. Addahoumi, Plaintiff,
Harris Pastides, Dennis Pruitt, Bobby Gist, Alisa Liggett, Maureen Grewe, Augusta Schneider, Timothy Bedford, Leslie G. Wiser, Jr., Josef Olmert, Scott Prill, Carl R. Wells, Officer J. Newton, Richard L. Frierson, and the University of South Carolina Board of Trustees, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
CAMERON MCGOWAN CURRIE Senior United States District Judge
matter is before the court on Plaintiff's motion for
reconsideration pursuant to Rules 59(e) and 60. ECF No. 86.
Plaintiff also filed a motion for leave to file Third Amended
Complaint. ECF No. 85. The challenged judgment, entered
January 30, 2018, granted Defendants' motions to dismiss
for failure to comply with Rules 8(a) and 10(b) and dismissed
Plaintiff's case with prejudice. ECF Nos. 80 (Order), 81
(Judgment). Defendants filed a response in opposition to
Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration, and a motion to
stay the motion for leave to amend pending the outcome of the
motion for reconsideration. ECF Nos. 87, 88. Plaintiff filed
a “consolidated reply” in support of his
reconsideration motion and in opposition to Defendants'
motion to stay. ECF No. 97. For the reasons set forth below,
Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration is denied. His
motion for leave to file Third Amended Complaint, therefore,
is moot, as is Defendants' motion to stay.
a former student at the University of South Carolina,
initiated this action on May 15, 2016, after he was suspended
from the University. The original Complaint named Harris
Pastides, Dennis Pruitt, Bobby Gist, Alisa Ligget, Maureen
Grewe, Augusta Schneider, Timothy Bedford, Leslie G. Wiser,
Jr., Josef Olmert, Jane Doe, Carl R. Wells, and Officer
Newton as Defendants. ECF No. 1. This Complaint was 59 pages,
contained 152 paragraphs and ten causes of action, and was
submitted by Plaintiff's first attorney. Id.
Defendants filed motions to dismiss (ECF Nos. 6, 10) after
which the Magistrate Judge granted Plaintiff's motion for
leave to file an amended complaint (ECF Nos. 16, 30).
Plaintiff, through counsel, stated he wished to
“condense and clarify the allegations in his complaint
to make them more short and plain. . . .” ECF No. 16.
The parties indicated they were actively engaged in
settlement negotiations, so the deadline to file the Amended
Complaint was set for June 19, 2017. Settlement negotiations
apparently broke down, as the Amended Complaint was filed
June 19. It was significantly longer than the original
Complaint, at 235 pages and 869 paragraphs, and included
nearly 100 pages of attachments. ECF No. 41. It also added
Richard L. Frierson and the University of South Carolina
Board of Trustees as Defendants. Id. Although
Plaintiff's second attorney filed the Amended Complaint,
it was apparently drafted by Plaintiff,  and that attorney
withdrew as counsel shortly after the filing. Defendants
filed motions to dismiss (ECF Nos. 43, 44), and the
Magistrate Judge filed a Report recommending Plaintiff be
allowed to file a second and final amended complaint
“that comports with Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).” ECF
No. 52. The Magistrate Judge warned Plaintiff that failure to
file a proper amended complaint would result in his case
being dismissed with prejudice. Id. at 6. Before
this court ruled on that Report, Plaintiff filed his 44 page
Second Amended Complaint, with 138 paragraphs of factual
allegations, eight counts, and 149 pages of attachments. ECF
again filed motions to dismiss Plaintiff's Second Amended
Complaint. ECF Nos. 56, 57. Due to Plaintiff's pro se
status, the Magistrate Judge entered orders pursuant to
Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), advising
him of the importance of the motions and the need to file an
adequate response. ECF Nos. 59, 61. Plaintiff filed a
response in opposition. ECF No. 65. Defendants filed a reply.
ECF No. 66. On November 9, 2017, the Magistrate Judge issued
a Report recommending Defendants' motions to dismiss be
granted and Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment be
denied as moot. ECF No. 74. The Magistrate Judge advised the
parties of the procedures and requirements for filing
objections to the Report and the serious consequences if they
failed to do so. On December 1, 2017, Plaintiff filed over
200 pages of objections to the Report. ECF No. 77. Defendants
filed a reply on December 15, 2017. ECF No. 78. On January
30, 2018, this court entered an Order adopting the Report,
granting Defendants' motions to dismiss, and dismissing
Plaintiff's case with prejudice. ECF No. 80.
now seeks reconsideration of that Order. ECF No. 86.
Defendants filed a response in opposition to Plaintiff's
motion for reconsideration, arguing Plaintiff has raised no
grounds to grant reconsideration under the standard applied
by the Fourth Circuit. ECF No. 87. They also note
“Plaintiff made no real effort to cure any deficiencies
when he filed the Second Amended Complaint.”
Id. at 4. They agree “this action was
appropriately dismissed with prejudice.” Id.
Plaintiff then filed his reply, rehashing and in many places
resubmitting word-for-word arguments from his motion for
reconsideration. ECF No. 97.
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has interpreted Rule 59(e) of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to allow the court to
alter or amend an earlier 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.”
Becker v. Westinghouse Savannah River Co.,
305 F.3d 284, 290 (4th Cir. 2002) (quoting Pac. Ins. Co.
v. Am. Nat'l Fire Ins. Co., 148 F.3d 396, 403 (4th
Cir. 1998)). “Rule 59(e) motions may not be used,
however, to raise arguments which could have been raised
prior to the issuance of judgment, nor may they be used to
argue a case under a novel theory that the party had the
ability to address in the first instance.” Pac.
Ins. Co., 148 F.3d at 403. Relief under Rule 59(e) is
“an extraordinary remedy which should be used
sparingly.” Id. (internal marks omitted).
“Mere disagreement does not support a Rule 59(e)
motion.” Becker, 305 F.3d at 290 (quoting
Hutchinson v. Stanton, 994 F.2d 1076, 1082 (4th Cir.
60(b) sets out grounds for relief from final judgment,
including mistake or excusable neglect, newly discovered
evidence, fraud or misrepresentation, void judgment,
satisfied judgment, or “any other reason that justifies
relief.” “The remedy provided by the Rule
[60(b)], however, is extraordinary and is only to be invoked
upon a showing of exceptional circumstances.”
Compton v. Alton S.S. Co., 608 F.2d 96, 102 (4th
Cir. 1979). “To obtain relief under the Rule, a party
must demonstrate inter alia that he was not at fault and that
the nonmoving party will not be prejudiced by the relief from
judgment.” Home Port Rentals, Inc. v. Ruben,
957 F.2d 126, 132 (4th Cir. 1992).
requests relief under either Rule 59(e) or Rule 60, asking
that the court reconsider its Order of dismissal, change the
dismissal from with prejudice to without, and grant his
latest motion for leave to amend the complaint. ECF No. 86.
He notes his proposed Third Amended Complaint “provides
a dozen pages of new details about the Defendant
entities.” Id. at 2. Plaintiff then makes
several arguments in support of his request for
reconsideration. For clarification, the court will label the
sections to correspond to Plaintiff's characterizations
of the arguments in his motion.
Grounds for Reconsideration Based on Exceptions to Particular
Statements, Findings, and Conclusions in the Order
this section, Plaintiff argues his claims were not dismissed
for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) and
that the court should have converted Defendants' motions
to dismiss into ones for summary judgment. Id. at
3-9. He argues his Complaint should not have been dismissed
based on affirmative defenses at the pleadings stage.
Id. at 9. Plaintiff further contends the Report was
“a writing that is not an exhibit to Plaintiff's
Complaint and therefore cannot be considered part of the
motion demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding regarding
the dismissal of his claims. He is correct the court did not
dismiss the claims under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a
claim, but does not appear to understand his Complaint was
instead dismissed for failure to comply with Rules 8(a) and
10(b) requiring a “short and plain statement” of
his claims and because “it was impossible to determine
which factual allegations applied to which cause of action
against which Defendant(s).” See ECF No. 80 at 5.
Plaintiff's Complaints were so unclear as to violate
these rules, and his filings (objections to the Report and
this motion) serve only to further muddy the waters. As his
Complaint was not dismissed based on Rule 12(b)(6), this
argument for reconsideration provides no rationale for
allowing Plaintiff's case to go forward. The court could
not have converted Defendants' motions to ones for
summary judgment because the motions addressed the form ...