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K'Napp v. Calif. Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation

United States District Court, E.D. California

February 5, 2015

ERIC K'NAPP, Plaintiff,
v.
CALIF. DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS AND REHABILITATION et al., Defendants.

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION (ECF No. 11) ORDER DENYING REQUEST FOR APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL WITHOUT PREJUDICE ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS WITH PREJUDICE (ECF No. 8.) ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S REQUEST FOR INJUNCTIVE RELIEF WITHOUT PREJUDICE (ECF No. 8) ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF LEAVE TO FILE AN AMENDED COMPLAINT THIRTY-DAY DEADLINE

ANTHONY W. ISHII, Senior District Judge.

Plaintiff Eric K'napp ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff initiated this action on January 22, 2013. On January 21, 2014, Plaintiff filed a petition for writ of mandamus. (ECF Nos. 8, 9.)

On December 1, 2014, the Magistrate Judge screened Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1983. The Magistrate Judge determined that Plaintiff's complaint failed to comply with Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8 and 18 and dismissed it with leave to amend within thirty days. The Magistrate Judge provided Plaintiff with the relevant pleading and legal standards that appeared applicable to his claims. (ECF No. 10.)

On December 11, 2014, Plaintiff filed objections to Magistrate Judge's screening order dismissing the complaint with leave to amend. Plaintiff requested review of the Magistrate Judge's determination by the District Court. (ECF No. 11.) The District Court construes Plaintiff's objections and request as a motion for reconsideration of the Magistrate Judge's screening order.

I. Request for Reconsideration

A. Legal Standard

Reconsideration motions are committed to the discretion of the trial court. Rodgers v. Watt, 722 F.2d 456, 460 (9th Cir. 1983) (en banc); Combs v. Nick Garin Trucking, 825 F.2d 437, 441 (D.C. Cir. 1987). A party seeking reconsideration must set forth facts or law of a strongly convincing nature to induce the court to reverse a prior decision. See, e.g., Kern-Tulare Water Dist. v. City of Bakersfield, 634 F.Supp. 656, 665-66 (E.D. Cal. 1986), aff'd in part and rev'd in part on other grounds, 828 F.2d 514 (9th Cir. 1987).

This Court reviews a motion to reconsider a Magistrate Judge's ruling under the "clearly erroneous or contrary to law" standard set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a). As such, the court may only set aside those portions of a Magistrate Judge's order that are either clearly erroneous or contrary to law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a); see also Grimes v. City and County of San Francisco, 951 F.2d 236, 240 (9th Cir.1991) (discovery sanctions are non-dispositive pretrial matters reviewed for clear error under Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a)).

A magistrate judge's factual findings are "clearly erroneous" when the district court is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed. Security Farms v. International Bhd. of Teamsters, 124 F.3d 999, 1014 (9th Cir. 1997); Green v. Baca, 219 F.R.D. 485, 489 (C.D. Cal. 2003). The "clearly erroneous' standard is significantly deferential." Concrete Pipe and Products of California, Inc. v. Construction Laborers Pension Trust for Southern California, 508 U.S. 602, 623, 113 S.Ct. 2264 (1993).

The "contrary to law" standard allows independent, plenary review of purely legal determinations by the magistrate judge. See Haines v. Liggett Group, Inc., 975 F.2d 81, 91 (3rd Cir. 1992); Green, 219 F.R.D. at 489. An order is "contrary to law when it fails to apply or misapplies relevant statutes, case law, or rules of procedure." Knutson v. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Minn., 254 F.R.D. 553, 556 (D. Minn. 2008) (internal quotations omitted); Rathgaber v. Town of Oyster Bay, 492 F.Supp.2d 130, 137 (E.D.N.Y. 2007); Surles v. Air France, 210 F.Supp.2d 501, 502 (S.D.N.Y. 2001); see Adolph Coors Co. v. Wallace, 570 F.Supp. 202, 205 (N.D. Cal. 1983).

"Pretrial orders of a magistrate under § 636(b)(1)(A)... are not subject to a de novo determination...." Merritt v. International Bro. of Boilermakers, 649 F.2d 1013, 1017 (5th Cir. 1981). "The reviewing court may not simply substitute its judgment for that of the deciding court." Grimes, 951 F.2d at 241; see Phoenix Engineering & Supply v. Universal Elec., 104 F.3d 1137, 1141 (9th Cir. 1997) ("the clearly erroneous standard allows [for] great deference"). "Motions for reconsideration are disfavored... and are not the place for parties to make new arguments not raised in their original briefs." Hendon v. Baroya, 2012 WL 995757, at *1 (E.D. Cal. 2012) (citing Zimmerman v. City of Oakland, 255 F.3d 734, 740 (9th Cir. 2001); Northwest Acceptance Corp. v. Lynnwood Equip., Inc., 841 F.2d 918, 925-26 (9th Cir. 1988)).

B. Discussion

Plaintiff raises numerous objections to the Magistrate Judge's screening order dismissing the complaint with leave to amend. With respect to Plaintiff's objection to the delay in screening (Obj. 1), the Magistrate Judge did not err simply by delaying review of Plaintiff's lengthy complaint. The Eastern District of California maintains one of the heaviest caseloads in the nation, many of which are civil rights complaints filed by prisoners proceeding pro se that require screening. Plaintiff previously has been advised of the potential for delay in individual matters due to the Court's caseload. See e.g., Knapp v. Cate, 1:08-cv-01779-AWI-BAM, 2013 WL 5466641, at *3 (E.D. Cal. Sept. 30, 2013) ("The Magistrate Judge did not ...


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