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Padula v. Morris

March 17, 2009

DAYNA PADULA, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ROBERT MORRIS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Morrison C. England, Jr. United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Presently before the Court is Dayna Padula's Motion for Reconsideration of the Court's September 23, 2008, Order granting Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings as to Plaintiff's Second and Third Causes of Action. In that prior Order, faced with a circuit split in which the Ninth Circuit had not yet weighed in, the Court determined Plaintiff's second and third claims, brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, were preempted by Title IX, 20 U.S.C. § 1681.

Since then, in Fitzgerald v. Barnstable School Committee, ---U.S. ----, 129 S.Ct. 788 (2009), the Supreme Court resolved that split, reaching the opposite conclusion. In light of that intervening decision, Plaintiff's instant Motion is granted.*fn1

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff was a student at Dunsmuir High School from September 2002 through June 2004. She alleges that, during her time at Dunsmuir, she was subjected to gender-based harassment and discrimination. According to Plaintiff, Defendant Robert Morris, the principal of Dunsmuir High, Defendant Ray Kellar, the vice-principal and a teacher at the school, and other unnamed school employees committed the harassing acts.

Plaintiff filed her First Amended Complaint ("FAC") on June 28, 2005, alleging causes of action under, inter alia, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff specifically brought her § 1983 claims against all Defendants other than the Dunsmuir Unified High School District ("District"). The Court subsequently granted Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings as to those causes of action, concluding they were preempted by Title IX.

On December 18, 2009, Plaintiff's newly retained counsel filed a Pretrial Statement on her behalf, requesting that the Pretrial Scheduling Order be amended and the case stayed pending the Supreme Court decision in Fitzgerald.

Accordingly, the Court suspended all activity in this case and, upon issuance of the awaited decision, Plaintiff timely filed the instant Motion for Reconsideration.

STANDARD

A court should be loathe to revisit its own decisions unless extraordinary circumstances show that its prior decision was clearly erroneous. Christianson v. Colt Indus. Operating Corp., 486 U.S. 800, 817 (1988). This principle is generally embodied in the law of the case doctrine. That doctrine counsels against reopening questions once resolved in ongoing litigation. Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe of Indians v. Hodel, 882 F.2d 364, 369 n.5 (9th Cir. 1989). Nonetheless, under certain limited circumstances, the court has discretion to reconsider its prior decisions.

A motion for reconsideration is treated as a Rule 59(e) motion if filed within ten days of entry of judgment, but as a Rule 60(b) motion if filed more than ten days after judgment. See Am. Ironworks & Erectors Inc. v. N. Am. Constr. Corp., 248 F.3d 892, 898-99 (9th Cir. 2001). Since this motion is seeking reconsideration of a final judgment and was filed more than ten days after the entry of judgment, the Court will treat it as a Rule 60(b) motion. Motions for relief from judgment pursuant to Rule 60(b) are addressed to the sound discretion of the district court. Casey v. Albertson's Inc., 362 F.3d 1254, 1257 (9th Cir. 2004).

Rule 60(b) enumerates the grounds upon which a motion for relief from an order or judgment may be made. It specifies that:

On motion and just terms, the court may relieve a party or its legal representative from a final judgment, order, or proceeding for the following reasons: (1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise or excusable neglect;

(2) newly discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence, could not have been discovered in time to move ...


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