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Whitnum v. Town of Darien

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

June 20, 2017

L. LEE WHITNUM, Plaintiff,
v.
TOWN OF DARIEN, et al., Defendants.

          RULING AND ORDER

          Stefan R. Underhill United States District Judge

         L. Lee Whitnum, pro se, has filed a series of motions aimed at reversing my ruling and order dated December 9, 2016. In that ruling, I held that removal of this case was improper due to lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and I ordered the case remanded to Connecticut Superior Court. Doc. No. 33. Because remand already has been effected, I lack jurisdiction to reconsider my earlier ruling, and I deny Whitnum's motion for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

         I. Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) provides that the district court may relieve a party or its legal representative from a final judgment, order, or proceeding for the following reasons:

(1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect;
(2) newly discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence, could have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b)
(3) fraud (whether previously called intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party;
(4) the judgment is void;
(5) the judgment has been satisfied, released, or discharged; it is based on an earlier judgment that has been reversed or vacated; or applying it prospectively is no longer equitable; or
(6) any other reason that justifies relief.

         The standard for granting motions for reconsideration is strict. Motions for reconsideration “will generally be denied unless the moving party can point to controlling decisions or data that the court overlooked-matters, in other words, that might reasonably be expected to alter the conclusion reached by the court.” Shrader v. CSX Transp., 70 F.3d 255, 257 (2d Cir. 1995). Motions for reconsideration will not be granted where the party merely seeks to relitigate an issue that has already been decided. Id. The three major grounds for granting a motion for reconsideration in the Second Circuit are: (1) an intervening change of controlling law, (2) the availability of new evidence, or (3) the need to correct a clear error or prevent manifest injustice. Virgin Atl. Airways v. Nat'l Mediation Bd., 956 F.2d 1245, 1255 (2d Cir. 1992) (citing 18 Charles A. Wright, Federal Practice & Procedure § 4478).

         II. Background

         L. Lee Whitnum initiated a suit in Connecticut Superior Court on September 4, 2014, in which she alleged state tort claims against the Town of Darien. Compl., Doc. No. 1-1. On November 7, 2016, the Town removed Whitnum's Second Amended Complaint to this court, arguing that I had subject matter jurisdiction because one of Whitnum's claims arose under a federal statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1983. See Doc. No. 1, at 2. Whitnum responded that she “ha[d] no causes of action that entailed any violation of federal law, ” and asked that I “[o]rder transfer of this case back to the [state] court.” Reply Obj. Mot. Bifurcate, Doc. No. 25, at 1 (emphasis removed); Mot. Remand, Doc. No. 31, at 1.

         After examining the complaint, I agreed that Whitnum's claims did not “arise[] under federal law.” See Ruling & Order, Doc. No. 33, at 4 (quoting Metro. Life Ins. Co. v. Taylor, 481 U.S. 58, 63 (1987)). Although Whitnum's allegations of malicious prosecution and false arrest certainly could be “cognizable under [section] 1983, ” Whitnum had chosen “to avoid federal jurisdiction by pleading only state claims even where a federal claim [was] also available.” Id. at 3-4 (quoting Lennon v. Miller, 66 F.3d 416, 423 (2d Cir. 1995); Romano v. Kazacos, 609 F.3d 512, 518 (2d Cir. 2010) (internal quotation marks omitted)). Because none of Whitnum's claims was “based on federal law, ” and “no other basis exist[ed] for the exercise of federal jurisdiction, ” I ordered that Whitnum's case be ...


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