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Whitnum v. Woodbridge

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

March 22, 2019

L. LEE WHITNUM Plaintiff,
v.
TOWN OF WOODBRIDGE, ET AL., Defendants.

          RULING RE: PLAINTIFF'S MOTIONS FOR RECONSIDERATION (DOC. NOS. 139, 145, 147, AND 153).

          JANET C. HALL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Pending before the court are the plaintiff's Motions for Reconsideration of several of this court's prior Orders. Specifically, L. Lee Whitnum's (“Whitnum”) seeks reconsideration of the following Order: (1) Order Granting Motions to Quash Subpoenas for Rule 31 Depositions (Doc. No. 131); (2) Order Denying Motion to Compel Full Report (Doc. No. 134); (3) Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Motion to Compel and for Sanctions (Doc. No. 135); and (4) Order Denying Motion to Cite in John Whalen and Jane Emons (Doc. No. 136).

         For the reasons stated below, the Motions for Reconsideration are granted in part and denied in part.

         II. JURISDICTION

         Whitnum filed Notices of Appeal to the Second Circuit as to each of the Rulings for which she also moves this court for reconsideration. See Clerk's Certificate Re: Index and Record on Appeal (Doc. No. 173). Generally, "the filing of a notice of appeal is an event of jurisdictional significance-it confers jurisdiction on the court of appeals and divests the district court of its control over those aspects of the case involved in the appeal." United States v. Rodgers, 101 F.3d 247, 251 (2d Cir. 1996). However, the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure provide that, if a party files a notice of appeal after the district court enters judgment “but before it disposes of any motion listed in [Federal] Rule [of Appellate Procedure] 4(a)(4)(A)[, ] the notice becomes effective to appeal a judgment or order, in whole or in part, when the order disposing of the last such remaining motion is entered.” Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(4)(B). Included in the list of motions in Rule 4(a)(4)(A) are motions to “alter or amend the judgment under [Federal] Rule [of Civil Procedure] 59.” Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(4)(A). Therefore, where a party files a motion for reconsideration pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59, before it files a notice of appeal, the district court retains jurisdiction to rule on the motion for reconsideration.

         Whitnum filed her Motions for Reconsideration before she filed her Notices of Appeal. While Whitnum did not state the rule under which she sought reconsideration, the District of Connecticut Local Rules provide for such motions under Rule 7(c). See D. Conn. L. Civ. R. 7(c). The Second Circuit has held that motions for reconsideration under the Local Rules are “as a practical matter the same thing as motions for amendment of judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e). City of Hartford v. Chase, 942 F.2d 130, 133 (2d Cir. 1991). The Second Circuit has further held that, for purposes of Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a)(4), a motion for reconsideration under the District of Connecticut Local Rules must be treated the same as a motion under Rule 59. Id.[1] Because Whitnum filed her Motions for Reconsideration prior to filing her Notices of Appeal, the Notices will become effective to appeal from this court's rulings when this court has disposed of the last of the pending motions for reconsideration. See Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(4)(B) This court therefore has jurisdiction to resolve the pending motions.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         Motions for reconsideration require the movant to set "forth concisely the matters or controlling decisions which [the movant] believes the Court overlooked in the initial decision or order." D. Conn. L. Civ. R. 7(c). "The major grounds justifying reconsideration are an intervening change of controlling law, the availability of new evidence, or the need to correct a clear error or prevent manifest injustice." Virgin Atl. Airways, Ltd. v. Nat'l Mediation Bd., 956 F.2d 1245, 1255 (2d Cir. 1992) (quotation marks omitted). The standard for granting a motion for reconsideration is strict. Reconsideration will be granted only if the moving party can identify controlling decisions or data that the court overlooked and that would reasonably be expected to alter the court's decision. See Analytical Surveys, Inc. v. Tonga Partners, 684 F.3d 36, 52 (2d Cir. 2012) (citing Shrader v. CSX Transp., Inc., 70 F.3d 255, 257 (2d Cir. 1995)). A motion for reconsideration “is not a vehicle for relitigating old issues, presenting the case under new theories, securing a rehearing on the merits, or otherwise taking a second bite at the apple.” Analytical Surveys, 684 F.3d at 52 (quotation marks omitted).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         A. Motion for Reconsideration of Order Granting Motions to Quash Subpoenas for Rule 31 Depositions (Doc. No. 145).

         Whitnum seeks reconsideration of this court's Order (Doc. No. 131) granting the defendants' Motion to Quash Subpoenas addressed to former Superior Court Judge Jane Emons and Supervisory Assistant State's Attorney John Whalen. See Mot. for Reconsideration (Doc. No. 145). The court quashed the subpoenas for failure to comply with the requirement, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 31, that a plaintiff first serve a copy of her written questions to a non-party upon the defendants. See Order (Doc. No. 131) at 2-3; Fed.R.Civ.P. 31. Further, the court determined that the non-parties were entitled to a protective order because “[a]lmost every question, in each of the subpoenas, relate to events in 2013 and the plaintiff's divorce proceeding, are argumentative, and are not discoverable under the Rules in this case, which involves claims arising from a 2015 arrest.” Id. at 3.

         Whitnum argues that she complied with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 31 because the “deposition by written question for Emons and Whalen were given . . . . [and] was also served.” Mot. for Reconsideration (Doc. No. 145) at 1 ¶ 2. The attached Affidavit, on which Whitnum relies for support, does not establish that Whitnum complied with Rule 31 by serving a copy of written questions upon the defendants. See Affidavit (Doc. No. 145-1). The Affidavit merely states that the affiant accompanied Whitnum to the Office of the State Prosecutor to review records “in compliance with a duly served subpoena.” Id. Assuming that the document is referring to the same subpoenas at issue in the Motions to Quash, which is not clear from the face of the Affidavit, the Affidavit assumes that the subpoenas were properly served, but does not provide any basis for such a finding. Because the Affidavit cannot reasonably be expected to alter the court's earlier Ruling, the Motion for Reconsideration (Doc. No. 145) is denied, insofar as it seeks reconsideration of this court's grant of the defendants' Motions to Quash.

         B. Motion for Reconsideration of Ruling Denying Motion to Compel Full ...


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