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De Graffenried v. Smithway Motor Xpress, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division

December 22, 2014

MICHAEL A. DE GRAFFENRIED, Plaintiff,
v.
SMITHWAY MOTOR XPRESS, INC., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

SHARION AYCOCK, District Judge.

This cause comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration [26], Defendant's Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim [29], and Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment [31]. Having duly considered the motions, responses, rules, and authorities, the Court finds as follows:

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On June 18, 2008, Plaintiff Michael de Graffenried was employed as a truck driver by Defendant Smithway Motor Xpress, Inc. On that day, Plaintiff claims he was attacked by two men while attempting to deliver goods for Defendant in Memphis, Tennessee. Plaintiff alleges he was able to return to his truck and contact Defendant, who instructed him to leave the area with the truck. Plaintiff drove away and contacted his wife, seeking medical attention. Plaintiff was taken to the hospital where he was given "pain killer drugs to aid him in sleeping, etc." Plaintiff alleges in his complaint:

The dispatcher for the Defendant told him to go and get a drug test immediately, as it is supposed to be done within 32 hours of the incident. He did not get one the day of the accident, because he had to get to a doctor, and didn't take one after they had injected him with narcotic drugs, but did soon thereafter.

Plaintiff claims Defendant terminated his employment on July 1, 2008 for failing to take a drug test and has since reported Plaintiff's alleged failure to other companies with which Plaintiff has sought employment.

Plaintiff filed this action pro se on January 14, 2014, asserting that "Defendant should be held liable for any difference in income that he would have had, had he remained employed as a truck driver, and what he has made since the accident" and demanding judgment in the amount of $146, 845.49, as well as punitive damages. Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss [7], arguing among other things that Plaintiff's claims are barred by the applicable statutes of limitations. However, addressing the issue of subject matter jurisdiction sua sponte, the Court determined that it was unable to rule upon Defendant's motion because Plaintiff failed to adequately establish the Court's jurisdiction over this action. The Court entered an Order [20] granting Plaintiff leave to amend his Complaint no later than April 29, 2014 and specifically stated therein that the "[f]ailure to timely file an amended complaint shall result in the dismissal of this action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction."

Plaintiff failed to comply with the Court's Order, and the Court dismissed this action without prejudice on June 12, 2014, finding that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction. Thereafter, on June 24, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Reconsideration [26] and an Amended Complaint [27]. Defendant has filed a second Motion to Dismiss [29], and Plaintiff has additionally filed a Motion for Judgment [31].

MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION

Whereas this action was dismissed on June 12, 2014, the Court must first consider Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration [26].

Applicable Legal Standard

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not specifically provide for a motion for reconsideration, but the Fifth Circuit has held that a district court may entertain such a motion and treat it as a motion to alter or amend under Rule 59(e) or as a motion for relief from judgment under Rule 60(b). Teal v. Eagle Fleet, Inc. , 933 F.2d 341, 347 (5th Cir.1991). Specifically, if, as here, the motion for reconsideration is filed and served within twenty-eight days of the rendition of judgment, the motion falls under Rule 59(e), and if it is filed and served after that time, it falls under the more stringent Rule 60(b). Id .; see also FED. R. CIV. P. 59(e).

"Rule 59(e) motions provide relief for the movant on grounds at least as broad as Rule 60 motions." Templet v. HydroChem Inc. , 367 F.3d 473, 483 (5th Cir. 2004) (citation omitted). Under Rule 59(e), the Court recognizes "three possible grounds for granting a motion for reconsideration: (1) an intervening change in controlling law, (2) the availability of new evidence not previously available, and (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice." Towns v. Ne. Miss. Elec. Power Ass'n, 2011 WL 3267887, at *1 (N.D. Miss. July 29, 2011) (citing Atkins v. Marathon LeTourneau Co. , 130 F.R.D. 625, 626 (S.D.Miss. 1990)). While "[r]econsideration of a judgment after its entry is an extraordinary remedy that should be used sparingly, " Templet , 367 F.3d at 479 (citation omitted), "Rule 59(e)... provides district courts with the power to consider equitable factors and provide relief for any... reason justifying relief from the operation of the judgment.'" Id. at 483 (citing FED. R. CIV. P. 60(b)(6); Liljeberg v. Health Servs. Acquisition Corp. , 486 U.S. 847, 863-64, 108 S.Ct. 2194, 100 L.Ed.2d ...


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