United States District Court, D. Connecticut
APRIL DOE, Suing by and on behalf of her minor daughter, Faith Doe, Plaintiff,
WINCHESTER BOARD OF EDUCATION, Defendant.
ORDER ON MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION
A. Bolden, United States District Judge
April Doe, brought this action on July 28, 2010 under 20
U.S.C. § 1681 et seq. (“Title IX”),
alleging that Defendant, the Winchester Board of Education
(“Winchester”), failed to protect her
kindergarten-aged minor daughter from an alleged sexual
assault by a fellow kindergarten student. ECF No. 1. On
January 18, 2017, the Court entered an order dismissing the
case for Ms. Doe's failure to prosecute, ECF No. 135, and
on January 31, 2017, the Court entered judgment in favor of
Defendant. Pending before the Court is Ms. Doe's motion
for reconsideration of the order dismissing the case for
failure to prosecute. ECF No. 138.
reasons that follow, the Court DENIES the Plaintiff's
motion for reconsideration.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
history of this case is outlined in the Court's order
dismissing the case for failure to prosecute. ECF No. 135. On
October 28, 2016, the Court entered an Order to Show Cause as
to why this case should not be dismissed for failure to
prosecute. ECF No. 123. The entry of this Order followed Ms.
Doe's motion to continue the trial, ECF No. 120, and Ms.
Doe's counsel's motion to withdraw, ECF No. 121, both
of which were filed roughly forty-five minutes before the
pretrial conference scheduled for 2:00 PM on October 27,
2016, ECF No. 117, to prepare for a trial scheduled for
October 31, 2016, ECF No. 108. Ms. Doe's counsel then
failed to appear for the pretrial conference. ECF No. 122.
The October 31, 2016 trial date was both the fifth trial date
scheduled for this case throughout its history, see
Order Dismissing Case at 3-6, ECF No. 135, as well as the
third trial date scheduled in this case in the three months
immediately preceding the entry of the Order to Show Cause,
each of which was continued at Ms. Doe's request within a
few days of trial. See ECF No. 89; ECF No. 101; ECF
No. 104; ECF No. 105; ECF No. 108; ECF No. 117; ECF No. 120.
light of factors including: the protracted history of this
case; the number of last-minute continuances Ms. Doe has
sought throughout the history of this case; Ms. Doe's
repeated failure to comply with Court orders, including a
failure to file a response to the Order to Show Cause prior
to the December 2, 2016 Order to Show Cause hearing and a
failure to appear in person at the Order to Show Cause
hearing; the considerable prejudice to Winchester due to the
age of this case and the need to prepare for five different
trial dates that did not go forward; and Ms. Doe's
demonstrated inability to maintain a relationship with
counsel for long enough that counsel could bring the case to
trial, the Court dismissed the case for Ms. Doe's failure
to prosecute on January 18, 2017. See Order
Dismissing Case at 12-25 (outlining the grounds the Court
considered in dismissing the case). The Court entered
judgment in favor of Winchester on January 31, 2017. ECF No.
136. Ms. Doe appeared pro se on February 14, 2017
and filed a motion for reconsideration. ECF No. 137; ECF No.
Doe's pending motion is a “motion to alter or amend
a judgment” under Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure. Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e). Such motions must be
filed “no later than 28 days after the entry of the
judgment, ” Fed R. Civ. P. 59(e), in order to be
timely. Because the Court entered judgment on January 31,
2017 and Ms. Doe filed her motion on February 14, 2017 her
motion is timely.
Court may only grant a motion seeking reconsideration of a
judgment when the “moving party can point to
controlling decisions or data that the court
overlooked” and “that might reasonably be
expected to alter the conclusion reached by the court.”
Shrader v. CSX Transp., Inc., 70 F.3d 255, 256-57
(2d Cir. 1995); see also Pierce v. Lee, No.
3:08-CV-1721 (VLB), 2010 WL 4683911, at *1 (D. Conn. Nov. 4,
2010) (applying Shrader to Rule 59(e) motion).
“A motion for reconsideration is not a means to reargue
those issues already considered when a party does not like
the way the original motion was resolved.”
Pierce, 2010 WL 4683911 at *1.
files her current motion pro se. Even with the
special solicitude that the Court affords to Ms. Doe because
of her pro se status, see Triestman v. Fed.
Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006)
(“It is well established that the submissions of a pro
se litigant must be construed liberally and interpreted
‘to raise the strongest arguments that they
suggest.'”); Ruotolo v. I.R.S., 28 F.3d 6,
8 (2d Cir. 1994) (explaining that pro se litigants should be
afforded “special solicitude” because they are
not represented by counsel), Ms. Doe's motion fails to
include either new controlling law or new information that
the Court overlooked. Shrader, 70 F.3d at 256-57.
Ms. Doe's motion merely reiterates largely the same
points that she raised when she appeared at the Order to Show
Cause hearing by phone, ECF No. 128; ECF No. 129, and in her
January 6, 2017 response to the Order to Show Cause. ECF No.
134. Because the motion fails to present new law or new
information that the Court overlooked and that can
“reasonably be expected to alter the conclusion reached
by the Court, Shrader, 70 F.3d at 256-57, the Court
denies Ms. Doe's motion.
significantly, Ms. Doe' motion, which reaches nearly
twenty pages in length, is noticeably silent on the
Court's deepest concern: Ms. Doe's failure to
identify new counsel capable of trying this case in the
foreseeable future. See Order Dismissing Case at
13-14 (“Furthermore, it has now been nearly three
months since current Plaintiff's counsel filed her first
motion to withdraw, and Ms. Doe's response to the Order
to Show Cause contains no indication that she has made any
effort to identify new counsel despite her knowledge of her
counsel's intent to withdraw and inability to represent
her at trial. Given that the Court indicated during the Order
to Show Cause hearing, and subsequent telephonic status
conference, that it was seriously considering dismissal for
failure to prosecute due to Ms. Doe's having caused
repeated delays to the trial, this lack of urgency is
troubling. The Court cannot wait indefinitely and hold this
case over for trial until Plaintiff decides it is convenient
for her.” (internal citations omitted)). While Ms.
Doe's motion claims “currently” to have two
attorneys willing to assist her, Pl.'s Mot. At 10, ECF
No. 138, it has now been nearly four months since
Plaintiff's second counsel first moved to withdraw, and
no new Plaintiff's counsel has filed an appearance in
this case. ECF No. 121. Ms. Doe has, instead, filed an
appearance pro se and her current motion was also
prepared pro se. ECF No. 138.
course, even if new counsel had appeared to file Ms.
Doe's motion for reconsideration, that would only solve
half of Ms. Doe's most troubling problem. Throughout the
history of this case, Ms. Doe has not been able to maintain
an attorney-client relationship long enough for this case to
go to trial. The motion for reconsideration provides no new
information suggesting that this situation has been remedied
and that Ms. Doe could cooperate with new counsel going
forward, even if she were able to identify new counsel.
while Ms. Doe appears to allege that then Plaintiff's
counsel failed to (1) provide Ms. Doe with a copy of the
Order to Show Cause, (2) notify her of the Order to Show
Cause hearing, or (3) notify Ms. Doe of the Court's order
that she appear in person at the Order to Show Cause hearing,
Pl.'s Mot. at 4, these statements differ from her former
counsel's representations at the Order to Show Cause
hearing. ECF No. 128; ECF No. 129.