United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
JO ANN SIMPSON, individually and as personal representative of the estate of JOSHUA SIMPSON, Plaintiff,
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, et al., Defendants.
C. Cacheris United States District Court Judge
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to
Reconsider [Dkt. 29]. Plaintiff seeks reconsideration of this
Court's Order granting Defendant's Motion to Dismiss
[Dkt. 3], and dismissing Plaintiff's Complaint [Dkt.
1-1]. For the following reasons, the Court will deny
Plaintiff's Motion to Reconsider.
facts of this case were discussed at length in this
Court's previous Memorandum Opinion issued on July 21,
2016 [Dkt. 27], and are discussed here only as relevant to
Plaintiff's Motion to Reconsider.
Jo Ann Simpson (“Plaintiff” or “Mrs.
Simpson”) brings this suit as the personal
representative and administrator of the estate of the
deceased, Joshua Michael Simpson (“Decedent” or
“Mr. Simpson”). Decedent was an individual with a
mental illness living in Warrenton, Virginia in 2014.
(Compl., ¶¶ 4, 6.) Plaintiff brings claims against
Defendant, the Commonwealth of Virginia (“the
Commonwealth”); Defendant, Steven Flaherty in his
official capacity as the Superintendent of the Virginia
Department of State Police (“Superintendent
Flaherty”); and Defendants, John Does (“Doe
Defendants”), who are currently unidentified police
officers employed by the Virginia Department of State Police
(“VSP”). (Id. at ¶¶ 7-9.)
Collectively, the Court will refer to the Commonwealth,
Superintendent Flaherty, and the Doe Defendants as
21, 2016, this Court issued an Order and accompanying
Memorandum Opinion granting Defendant's Motion to Dismiss
and dismissing Plaintiff's Complaint. On August 18, 2016,
Plaintiff filed the instant Motion to Reconsider pursuant to
Rule 59 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. On August
31, 2016, Defendants filed their Memorandum in Opposition
[Dkt. 33]. Plaintiff filed her Reply brief on September 6,
2016 [Dkt. 34]. The motion is set for oral argument on
September 22, 2016, at which point it will be ripe for
asks the Court to reconsider its Order dismissing her
Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e).
A court may amend a judgment under Rule 59(e) in the
following three circumstances: “(1) to accommodate an
intervening change in controlling law; (2) to account for new
evidence not available at trial; or (3) to correct a clear
error of law or prevent manifest injustice.”
Hutchinson v. Staton, 994 F.2d 1076, 1081 (4th Cir.
1993). Amending a judgment “is an extraordinary remedy
that should be applied sparingly.” Mayfield v.
NASCAR, Inc., 674 F.3d 369, 379 (4th Cir. 2012). In
order to justify reconsideration due to clear error, the
error cannot be “just maybe or probably wrong; it must
. . . strike [the Court] as wrong with the force of a
five-week-old, unrefrigerated dead fish.” Fontell
v. Hasset, 891 F.Supp.2d 739, 741 (D. Md.
2012)(quoting TFWS, Inc. v. Franchot, 572 F.3d 186,
194 (4th Cir. 2009)(citations omitted)).
contends that relief pursuant to Rule 59(e) is appropriate
here because: (1) there were relevant developments in Fourth
Circuit case law subsequent to oral argument, but prior to
issuance of the Order granting Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss; and (2) the failure of this Court to “consider
these new cases, as well as [unspecified] other factors,
” when ruling on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss
“represents a manifest injustice.” (Pl.'s
Mem. in Supp. at 2.) The Court will consider each of these
bases for reconsideration in turn.
Failure to Consider New Case Law
first argues that her supplemental brief cited “new
case law that the Court did not cite in its opinion.”
(Pl.'s Mem. in Supp. at 2.) Plaintiff is correct that the
Court's previous Memorandum Opinion did not cite every
case included in Plaintiff's briefings on Defendant's
Motion to Dismiss. However, the Court's decision not to
cite to the authority offered by Plaintiff did not stem from
a failure to consider those cases. Rather, those cases did
not appear in the forty-two page Memorandum Opinion granting
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss out of a concern for the
efficient management of judicial resources, as well as
because the Court considered them to be so obviously
distinguishable from the case at hand that extended
discussion of them was unnecessary. To quell Plaintiff's
concern that this Court may have ignored or overlooked
relevant case law, the Court will now proceed to discuss and
distinguish each case cited by the Plaintiff in her Motion to
Estate of Armstrong v. Village of Pinehurst
first contends that this Court “ignore[d] recent Fourth
Circuit precedent addressing mental illness, ”
specifically the case of Estate of Armstrong v. Village
of Pinehurst, 810 F.3d 892 (4th Cir. 2016). (Pl.'s
Mem. in Supp. at 5.) Plaintiff seems to argue that
Armstrong stands for the proposition that the use of
force is presumptively unreasonable when deployed against
individuals who are mentally ill. It would be far more
accurate to say instead that Armstrong clarified