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Steve Christensen v. Bannock County Sheriff's Dept.

January 4, 2011

STEVE CHRISTENSEN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BANNOCK COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPT., BANNOCK COUNTY, DOUG ARMSTRONG, M.D. HART, AND TOM FOLTZ, 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 (Dkt. 40). For the reasons explained below, the Court will deny the motion.

LEGAL STANDARD

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.

ANALYSIS

1. Defendants' Motion for Reconsideration

As an initial matter, Defendants ask the Court to clarify which claims are still pending. In its earlier Order, the Court dismissed all claims, including the conspiracy claim, except Plaintiff's malicious prosecution claim against Defendant Armstrong.

Thus, the only pending claim is the malicious prosecution claim against Defendant Armstrong.

Defendants next ask the Court to reconsider its decision to deny summary judgment in favor of Defendants on that one remaining claim. Defendants suggest that the Court committed clear error in that respect.

The bulk of Defendants' motion simply restates arguments addressed in the Court's earlier decision. The Court will not rehash those arguments here. The Court's earlier ...


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