United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
VINCENT EDWARDS, Individually, and on behalf of all others similarly situated PLAINTIFF
THE CITY OF TUPELO, MISSISSIPPI, et al. DEFENDANTS
M. BROWN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
proposed class action case is before the Court on the City of
Tupelo, Mississippi's motion for reconsideration of the
Court's September 24, 2019, order. Doc. #121.
August 18, 2017, Vincent Edwards, “individually and as
class representatives, ” filed a “Complaint for
Violation of Civil Rights” against the City of Tupelo,
Mississippi; Lee County, Mississippi; Ramierre Warren; and
certain fictitious parties. Doc. #1. In addition to
individual claims asserted by Edwards, the complaint proposed
a class action based on certain allegedly unconstitutional
practices of the City and the County. Id. at 3-5. On
October 12, 2018, Edwards filed a motion to certify the
proposed class. Doc. #41.
Edwards, with leave of the Court, filed an amended complaint
against the same defendants. Doc. #57. In addition to
individual claims, the amended complaint asserted four
proposed constitutional claims, titled as (1) “The City
Violated Plaintiffs' Rights by Incarcerating Them for
Non-Payment of Debts without a Constitutional Inquiry into
Their Ability to Pay, ” (Count One); (2) “The
City Violated the Plaintiffs' Rights by Imprisoning Them
for Inability to Pay Debts without Appointing Adequate
Counsel, ” (Count Two); (3) “The City of Tupelo
and Lee County's Scheme of Forcing Indigent Prisoners to
Labor in Order to Work Off Their Debts Violates the
Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and
Federal Law, ” (Count Three); and (4) “The Use of
Incarceration and Threats of Incarceration to Collect Debts
Owed to the City Violates the Equal Protection Clause,
” (Count Four). Id. at 10-13. On February 28,
2019, Edwards filed a supplemental motion for class
certification based on the claims asserted in the amended
complaint. Doc. #82 at 1-2.
24, 2019, United States Magistrate Judge David A. Sanders
issued a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”)
recommending, among other things, that the motions to certify
be denied. Doc. #94. On August 13, 2019, Edwards filed
objections to the R&R, Doc. #97; a motion for voluntary
dismissal as to all claims but those related to indigency
hearings for those held in contempt, Doc. #98; and a motion
for an evidentiary hearing on the issue of class
certification, Doc. #99.
September 24, 2019, this Court issued an order which, of
relevance here (1) construed Edwards' motion for
voluntary dismissal as a motion to amend filed after the
amendment deadline; (2) found good cause to modify the
scheduling order to consider Edwards' untimely filing;
and (3) found sufficient grounds to grant the motion to
amend. Doc. #120. On October 1, 2019, the City of Tupelo
filed a motion for reconsideration on the issue of amendment,
Doc. #121; the County joined the motion for reconsideration,
Doc. #123; and Edwards, pursuant to the September 24 order,
filed a second amended proposed class action complaint, Doc.
#124. The motion for reconsideration has been fully briefed.
Docs. #122, #126, #127, #128.
general rule, a request for reconsideration of an
interlocutory order, such as the one at issue here,
properly treated as a motion for reconsideration under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b). See Helena Labs.
Corp. v. Alpha Sci. Corp., 483 F.Supp.2d 538, 538 n.1
(E.D. Tex. 2007) (“Alpha's motion was improperly
filed under [Rule] 59(e) because no final judgment has been
entered. However, it is undisputed that the court has
discretion to treat the motion as one for reconsideration
under [Rule] 54(b).”).
Although the source of the court's authority to revise or
amend an order or judgment is different for interlocutory
orders than for final orders or judgments, many of the same
policy considerations apply both to motions for
reconsideration under Rule 54(b) and to motions for
reconsideration under Rule 59(e). Accordingly, district
courts … frequently apply the same standards to the
eTool Dev., Inc. v. Nat'l Semiconductor Corp.,
881 F.Supp.2d 745, 748 (E.D. Tex. 2012) (collecting cases).
“A motion to alter or amend the judgment under Rule
59(e) must clearly establish either a manifest error of law
or fact or must present newly discovered evidence and cannot
be used to raise arguments which could, and should, have been
made before the judgment issued.” Schiller v.
Physicians Res. Grp. Inc., 342 F.3d 563, 567 (5th Cir.
2003) (internal quotation marks omitted). “Relief under
Rule 59(e) is also appropriate when there has been an
intervening change in the controlling law.”
Id. Additionally, “a trial court is free to
reconsider and reverse interlocutory orders for any reason it
deems sufficient, even in the absence of new ...