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Stine v. Bureau of Prisons

United States District Court, E.D. California

December 16, 2019

BUREAU OF PRISONS, et al., [1]Defendants.



         Plaintiff is a federal prisoner, proceeding pro se, with an action brought under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). On October 26, 2018, plaintiff filed a notice of voluntary dismissal under Rule 41(a)(1)(A)(ii) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and the case was dismissed on October 31, 2018. On May 8, 2019, plaintiff's motion to withdraw the voluntary dismissal of this case was denied without prejudice to its renewal accompanied by a proposed fourth amended complaint. Thereafter, plaintiff filed a timely motion to withdraw the voluntary dismissal, followed by a motion to reopen the case and fourth amended complaint.

         As set forth below, the undersigned construes plaintiff's filings as motions for relief from judgment under Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and recommends the motions be denied, and this action remain closed.

         I. Motions for Relief

         A. Plaintiff's Claims

         In his motion to withdraw the dismissal, plaintiff claims that on October 18, 2018, ADX officials advised plaintiff that “several things would be done, ” apparently resolving all issues, so plaintiff filed the voluntary dismissal. However, once plaintiff arrived at USP-Terre Haute, plaintiff learned that “none of the things told to plaintiff are as stated and therefore none of the issues are resolved.” (ECF No. 49 at 2.) Thus, plaintiff requests the court to allow him to withdraw the voluntary dismissal and move forward on his verified emergency motion for temporary restraining order. (Id.) Plaintiff contends that defendants “advised mistruths” to get plaintiff to dismiss this case. (ECF No. 49 at 3.) In his subsequent renewed motion, plaintiff contends defendants reneged on the terms worked out to obtain voluntary dismissal of this case.

         B. Governing Standards

         Rule 41(a)(1)(A)(i) provides an action may be voluntarily dismissed without a court order through the filing of “a notice of dismissal before the opposing party serves either an answer or a motion for summary judgement.” Id. Voluntary dismissal of an action without prejudice results in a final order from which relief can be requested pursuant to Rule 60(b). See In re Hunter, 66 F.3d 1002, 1004-05 (9th Cir. 1995).

         Rule 60(b) provides for reconsideration of a final judgment or any order where one of more of the following is shown: (1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect; (2) newly discovered evidence which, with reasonable diligence, could not have been discovered within twenty-eight days of entry of judgment; (3) fraud, misrepresentation, or misconduct of an opposing party; (4) voiding of the judgment; (5) satisfaction of the judgment; and (6) any other reason justifying relief. Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b). A motion for reconsideration on any of these grounds must be brought within a reasonable time, and no later than one year, of the entry of the judgment or the order being challenged. Id.

         C. Discussion

         The court finds plaintiff's motions for relief are too vague and conclusory to determine whether plaintiff is entitled to relief from his voluntary request that this case be dismissed under any of the subsections of Rule 60. For example, it is unclear whether a named defendant was involved in either negotiating the “several things” that were supposed to occur, or that a named defendant committed “fraud, misrepresentation or misconduct.” To the extent plaintiff settled his claims with certain federal staff, it appears such agreement was not reduced to writing, but in any event the court was not privy to the particular terms of any such agreement.

         Nevertheless, even assuming plaintiff could demonstrate he was entitled to have this case reopened, it appears futile as a matter of law for plaintiff to proceed with his fourth amended complaint.

         II. Bivens Action

         In his fourth amended complaint, plaintiff claims that on or about October 13, 2017, his case manager served plaintiff with gang validation papers notifying plaintiff that the SIU Sacramento office had determined plaintiff was a gang member. (ECF No. 51 at 3.) Plaintiff alleges that the validation process was secret, and he was not provided a hearing or allowed to make a statement. Plaintiff names as defendants three Federal Bureau of Prisons Directors (ECF No. 51 at 2), alleging each was personally involved in plaintiff's improper validation, despite knowing plaintiff was not a gang member. Plaintiff claims defendants “were mad at [him] for litigations, a protected right.” (ECF No. 51 at 5.) ...

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