United States District Court, E.D. California
MICHAEL J. POWELL, Plaintiff,
TOMERY DARLING, Defendant.
MORRISON C. ENGLAND UNITED STATES DISTRICTJUDGE
17, 2016, Defendant Tomery Darling, proceeding in pro se
(“Defendant”), removed domestic relations
proceedings pending in the Superior Court of California in
and for the County of Placer to this Court, purportedly on
grounds that federal question jurisdiction was present
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. In actuality, Defendant
seeks to vacate a judgment entered against her in state
15, 2016, the assigned Magistrate Judge issued findings
recommending that this matter be remanded back to the
originating state court based on the fact that the Court did
not have jurisdiction to review the state court's prior
decision. On July 6, 2016, the undersigned adopted the
Magistrate Judge's Findings and Recommendations in full
and remanded the case back to the Placer County Superior
Court. Defendant thereafter, on July 14, 2016, filed a Motion
to reconsider that decision pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 59(e). That Motion, styled as a Motion to Amend
the Judgment, is now before this Court for adjudication.
motion for reconsideration is properly brought under either
Rule 59(e) or Rule 60(b). Taylor v. Knapp, 871 F.2d
803, 805 (9th Cir. 1989). A motion for reconsideration is
treated as a Rule 59(e) motion if, like Defendant's
motion presently before the Court, it is filed within
twenty-eight days of entry of an order closing the
case.See Am. Ironworks & Erectors, Inc.
v. N. Am. Constr. Corp., 248 F.3d 892, 898-99
(9th Cir. 2001). A motion may be construed as a
Rule 59 motion even though it is not labeled as such, or not
labeled at all. Taylor, 871 F.2d at 805.
should be loath to revisit its own decisions unless
extraordinary circumstances show that its prior decision was
clearly erroneous or would work a manifest injustice.
Christianson v. Colt Indus. Operating Corp., 486
U.S. 800, 817 (1988). This principle is embodied in the law
of the case doctrine, under which “a court is generally
precluded from reconsidering an issue that has already been
decided by the same court, or a higher court in the identical
case.” United States v. Alexander, 106 F.3d
874, 876 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Thomas v. Bible,
983 F.2d 152, 154 (9th Cir. 1993)). Nonetheless, in certain
limited circumstances, a court has discretion to reconsider
its prior decisions.
Rule 59(e) permits a district court to reconsider and amend a
previous order, “the rule offers an
‘extraordinary remedy, to be used sparingly in the
interests of finality and conservation of judicial
resources.'” Kona Enter., Inc. v. Estate of
Bishop, 229 F.3d 877, 890 (9th Cir. 2000) (quoting 12
James William Moore, et al., Moore's Federal
Practice § 59.30(4) (3d ed. 2000)). Indeed, a
district court should not grant a motion for reconsideration
“absent highly unusual circumstances, unless the
district court is presented with newly discovered evidence,
committed clear error, or if there is an intervening change
in the controlling law.” 389 Orange St. Partners v.
Arnold, 179 F.3d 656, 665 (9th Cir. 1999) (citing
School Dist. No. 1J v. ACandS, Inc., 5 F.3d 1255,
1263 (9th Cir. 1993)). Mere dissatisfaction with the
court's order, or belief that the court is wrong in its
decision, is not grounds for relief under Rule 59(e).
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. v. Dunnahoo, 637
F.2d 1338, 1341 (9th Cir. 1981).
Local Rule 230(j)(3) requires a party filing a motion for
reconsideration to show the “new or different facts or
circumstances claimed to exist which did not exist or were
not shown upon such prior motion, or what other grounds exist
for the motion.” Finally, motions for relief from
judgment pursuant to Rule 59(e) are addressed to the sound
discretion of the district court. Turner v. Burlington N.
Santa Fe R.R., 338 F.3d 1058, 1063 (9th Cir. 2003).
order to succeed, a party making a motion for reconsideration
pursuant to Rule 59(e) must “set forth facts or law of
a strongly convincing nature to induce the court to reverse
its prior decision.” Pritchen v. McEwen, No.
1:10-cv-02008-JLT HC, 2011 WL 2115647, at *1 (E.D. Cal. May
27, 2011) (citing Kern-Tulare Water Dist. v. City of
Bakersfield, 634 F.Supp. 656, 665 (E.D. Cal. 1986),
aff'd in part and rev'd in part on other
grounds, 828 F.2d 514 (9th Cir. 1987)). A motion for
reconsideration should not be used to raise arguments or
present evidence for the first time when the arguments or
evidence could reasonably have been raised earlier in the
litigation. 389 Orange St. Partners, 179 F.3d at
“courts avoid considering Rule 59(e) motions where the
grounds for amendment are restricted to either repetitive
contentions of matters which were before the court on its
prior consideration or contentions which might have been
raised prior to the challenged judgment.” Costello
v. United States, 765 F.Supp. 1003, 1009 (C.D. Cal.
1991); see also Taylor, 871 F.2d at 805. This
position stems from the district courts' “concerns
for preserving dwindling resources and promoting judicial
efficiency.” Costello, 765 F.Supp. at 1009
(internal citations omitted). Rule 59(e) motions for
reconsideration are therefore not intended to “give an
unhappy litigant one additional chance to sway the
judge.” Frito-Lay of P.R., Inc. v. Canas, 92
F.R.D. 384, 390 (D.P.R. 1981) (quoting Durkin v.
Taylor, 444 F.Supp. 226, 233 (N.D. Ohio 1967)).
as the findings and recommendations adopted by the Court made
clear, this Court is simply without jurisdiction to review
errors alleged to have been made in state court civil cases.
Dist. of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460
U.S. 462, 476 (1983); Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co.,
263 U.S. 413, 415 (1923). Accordingly, under the so-called
Rooker-Feldman doctrine, the Court can neither
“conduct a direct review of a state court judgment or .
. . scrutinize the state court's application of various
rules and procedure pertaining to the state case.”
Samuel v. Michaud, 980 F.Supp. 1381, 1411 -12 (D.
Idaho 1996), aff'd, 129 F.3d 127 (9th Cir.
moving for reconsideration, Defendant makes no effort to
distinguish this well-established case law which deprives the
court of subject-matter jurisdiction in this case. Instead,
she argues only that under supplemental jurisdiction, this
Court should exercise jurisdiction over “other claims
that are so related to claims in the action within such
original jurisdiction that they form part of the same
controversy under Article II of the United States
Constitution.” Def.'s Mot, 3:7 -11. As the
above-quoted language itself alludes, however, supplemental
jurisdiction must be predicated on claims over which the
court has original jurisdiction, and here there are none.
Motion to Amend the Judgment Pursuant to Rule 59(e) (ECF No.
17) is accordingly DENIED.