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Mangeac v. Armstrong

July 6, 2010

MARGARETA MANGEAC, PLAINTIFF,
v.
RICHARD ARMSTRONG, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES; DAVID TAYLOR IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES; RICHARD HUMISTON IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES; STEVE BELLOMY IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES; SUSAN ALTMAN IN HER INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable B. Lynn Winmill Chief U. S. District Judge

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

INTRODUCTION

The Court has before it Defendants' Motion for Reconsideration (Docket No. 95). The Court heard oral argument on the motion on June 25, 2010 and now issues the following decision.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff brought this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action, alleging that Defendants violated her procedural due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment when they added her name to the Adult Protection Registry ("Registry"), a state registry of vulnerable adult abusers, and maintained her name on the Registry despite her request to have it removed.*fn1 The parties filed cross motions for summary judgment. Ninth Circuit Judge Wallace Tashima, sitting by designation, conducted oral argument and issued an opinion on the motions. Notably, Defendants' counsel failed to submit a brief in support of Defendants' motion for summary judgment. He also failed to file an opposition to Plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment. Judge Tashima denied Defendants' motion, granted in part Plaintiff's motion, and ordered the parties to meet in good faith to reach agreement on a proposed form of declaratory judgment and permanent injunction.

After a meeting between counsel and the Court's staff, the Court agreed to stay the requirement that the parties submit a proposed form of declaratory judgment and permanent injunction until after the Court addressed Defendants' forthcoming motion to reconsider. That motion is now before the Court.

ANALYSIS

1. Motion for Reconsideration Standard of Law

A motion to reconsider an interlocutory ruling requires an analysis of two important principles: (1) Error must be corrected; and (2) Judicial efficiency demands forward progress. The former principal has led courts to hold that a denial of a motion to dismiss or for summary judgment may be reconsidered at any time before final judgment. Preaseau v. Prudential Insurance Co., 591 F.2d 74, 79-80 (9th Cir. 1979). While even an interlocutory decision becomes the "law of the case," it is not necessarily carved in stone. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes concluded that the "law of the case" doctrine "merely expresses the practice of courts generally to refuse to reopen what has been decided, not a limit to their power." Messinger v. Anderson, 225 U.S. 436, 444 (1912). "The only sensible thing for a trial court to do is to set itself right as soon as possible when convinced that the law of the case is erroneous. There is no need to await reversal." In re Airport Car Rental Antitrust Litigation, 521 F.Supp. 568, 572 (N.D.Cal. 1981)(Schwartzer, J.).

The need to be right, however, must co-exist with the need for forward progress. A court's opinions "are not intended as mere first drafts, subject to revision and reconsideration at a litigant's pleasure." Quaker Alloy Casting Co. v. Gulfco Indus., Inc., 123 F.R.D. 282, 288 (N.D.Ill.1988). "Courts have distilled various grounds for reconsideration of prior rulings into three major grounds for justifying reconsideration:

(1) an intervening change in controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence or an expanded factual record; and (3) need to correct a clear error or to prevent manifest injustice." Louen v Twedt, 2007 WL 915226 (E.D.Cal. March 26, 2007). If the motion to reconsider does not fall within one of these three categories, it must be denied.

2. Defendants' Motion for Reconsideration

Defendants contend that reconsideration is warranted to correct the factual record and prevent manifest injustice. Defendants' motion relies most heavily on the Declaration of Susan Altman. Altman is the Program Supervisor of the Criminal History Unit ("CHU"), Bureau of Audits and Investigation of the State of Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. Altman's declaration appears to shed new light on the maintenance of the Registry at Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. It also sheds new light on whether Mangeac's name was ever included on the Registry. Based primarily on Altman's Declaration, Defendants contend that the Court should reconsider its finding that the Registry violated ...


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