United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
ORDER AND OPINION
Richard Mark Gergel, United States District Court Judge.
the Court is Plaintiffs motion to reopen this case (Dkt. No.
20) and motion for civil judgment (Dkt. No. 21). For the
reasons set forth below, the Court grants Plaintiffs motion
to reopen the case, denies the motion for civil judgment, and
dismisses Plaintiffs claims with prejudice.
a state prisoner at Lee Correctional Institution, brought
suit for violation of his civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 alleging that Defendants committed perjury while
testifying at his 2010 state trial and 2015 post-conviction
relief hearings. Plaintiff sought monetary damages for lost
wages, legal fees, "name slandering," false
imprisonment, and pain and suffering. (Dkt. No. 1)
December 13, 2018, the Magistrate Judge issued a Proper Form
Order notifying Plaintiff that his case was subject to
dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41 unless he
brought the case into proper order by completing a summons
form and a Form USM-285 by January 6, 2019 (a deadline of
twenty-one days plus three days for service by mail). (Dkt.
No. 8.) The time for compliance passed without a response
from Plaintiff. On January 14, 2019, eight days after the
deadline, the Court dismissed the case pursuant to Rule 41.
(Dkt. No. 14.) On January 14, 2019, judgment was entered.
(Dkt. No. 16.) Also on January 14, 2019 (Dkt. No. 18-1 at
Plaintiff filed a reply to the Proper Form Order. The reply
described the alleged instances of perjury and requested that
the Magistrate Judge impose a "civil judgment" of
"five years imprisonment and/or $250, 000 fine."
(Dkt. No. 18 at 5.) On January 18, 2019 (Dkt. No. 19-2 at 2),
Plaintiff filed the summons and Form USM-285 that had been
requested in the Proper Form Order. (Dkt. No. 19, No. 19-1.)
On February 5, 2019 (Dkt. No. 20-1 at 2), Plaintiff moved to
reopen the case on the basis that an April 2018 riot resulted
in Plaintiff being placed on lockdown status and caused
"delays in mailroom movement." (Dkt. No. 20 at 2.)
Legal Standard and Discussion
60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits the
Court to relieve a party from a judgment for "mistake,
inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect" or
"any other reason that justifies relief."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(1) and (6). The motion for relief
"must be made within a reasonable time," including
"no more than a year after the entry of judgment or
order" if the grounds for relief are "mistake,
inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(c)(1). Plaintiff moved to reopen the case
twenty-two days after entry of judgment and the Court finds
his alleged inability to engage in timely prison mailroom
procedure due to a lockdown out of his control persuasive.
The Court, therefore, grants Plaintiffs motion to reopen the
reviewing Plaintiffs claims on their merits, the Court finds
they are subject to dismissal. Trial witnesses sued under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 have "absolute immunity with respect
to any claim based on the witness'
testimony." Rehberg v. Paulk, 566 U.S. 356, 367
(2012) (citing Briscoe v. LaHue, 460 U.S. 325,
332-33 (1983)) (emphasis in original). Plaintiffs motion for
civil judgment, seeking that Defendants be sentenced to five
years' imprisonment and subject money damages, is a
recitation of the allegations and arguments previously given
in Plaintiffs reply to the Proper Form Order. As a result,
Plaintiffs claims against Defendants are dismissed with
foregoing reasons, Plaintiffs motion to reopen the case (Dkt.
No. 20) is GRANTED, Plaintiffs motion for
civil judgment (Dkt. No. 21) is DENIED, and
Plaintiffs claims (Dkt. No. 1) are DISMISSED WITH
PREJUDICE and without issuance and service of
IS SO ORDERED.
See Houston v. Lack, 487 U.S.
266 (1988) (prisoner's filing is filed at the moment of
delivery to prison authorities for forwarding ...