United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Harrisonburg Division
RONNIE T. SHELTON, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
Michael F. Urbanski United States District Judge
matter is before the court on plaintiff Ronnie Shelton's
("Shelton") "Motion for Reconsideration."
ECF No. 16. Shelton asks the court' to reconsider its
September 13, 2016 order dismissing this case for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction (ECF No. 15). For the reasons
that follow, Shelton's motion is DENIED.
filed his complaint on April 23, 2015. The complaint stems
from a series of applications Shelton made for Social
Security Income land Disability Insurance Benefits, all of
which were denied. Shelton sought review of the Social
Security Administration's dismissal of his most recent
claim for benefits on res judicata grounds. Carolyn
Colvin, the Commissioner of Social Security
("Colvin") filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that
the court was without jurisdiction to consider Shelton's
complaint. ECF No. 7. The motion was referred to Magistrate
Judge Joel C. Hoppe, who issued a report recommending the
court grant Colvin's motion. ECF No. 12.
report noted that judicial review is ordinarily precluded
where an application for social security benefits is
dismissed on res judicata grounds. Id. at
4. However, courts still have jurisdiction to consider
constitutional issues. Id. The report identified one
such issue: under Shrader v. Harris. 631 F.2d 297
(4th Cir. 1980), "[w]hen mental illness precluded a pro
se claimant from understanding how to obtain an evidentiary
hearing after ex parte denial of his application for
benefits, " dismissal of that claimant's subsequent
motion for a hearing on res judicata grounds
violates the due process clause of the Constitution.
Id. (quoting Shrader, 631 F.2d at 300). The
report found that the rule articulated in Shrader
did not save Shelton's claim from dismissal for the
simple reason that Sheltoh was represented by an attorney
during his application process. Id. at 6. Thus,
dismissal of his claim does not violate due process.
Id. at 7.
September 13, 2016, this court, after de novo review
of Shelton's single objection (ECF No. 13), adopted Judge
Hoppe's report in its entirety, and dismissed the case
for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. ECF No. 15. On
October 11, Shelton filed his motion for reconsideration, ECF
No. 16, to which Colvin subsequently filed a response in
opposition, ECF No. 17.
for reconsideration, while not uncommon in federal practice,
are not recognized under the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. See Ambling Mgmt. Co. v. Univ. View Partners.
LLC, No. WDQ-07-2071, 2010 WL 457508, at *1 n.3 (D. Md.
Feb. 3, 2010); Above the Belt. Inc. v. Mel Bohannan
Roofing. Inc.. 99 F.R.D. 99, 100 (E.D. Va. 1983).
Nevertheless, courts have held that these motions can perform
a valuable function. Above the Belt. Inc.,
99 F.R.D. at 101. Such a motion would be appropriate where,
the Court has patently misunderstood a party, or has made a
decision outside the adversarial issues presented to the
Court by the parties, or has made an error not of reasoning
but of apprehension. A further basis for a motion to
reconsider would be a controlling or significant change in
the law or acts since the submission of the issue to the
Court. Such problems rarely arise and the motion to
reconsider should be1 equally rare.
Id. Indeed, because of the interest in finality,
courts should grant motions for reconsideration sparingly.
Univ. of Va. Patent Found, v. Gen. Elec. Co., 755
F.Supp.2d 738, 743-44 (W.D. Va. 2011) (quoting Dayoub v.
Penn-Del Directory Co.. 90 F.Supp.2d 636, 637 (E.D. Pa
2000)); see Downie v. Revco Discount Drug Ctrs.. No.
3:05cv00021, 2006 WL 1171960, at *1 (W.D. Va. May 1, 2006). A
motion' to reconsider should not be used to reiterate
arguments previously made or "to ask the Court to
rethink what the Court had already thought through-rightly or
wrongly." Above the Belt. Inc.. 99 F.R.D. at
to the Federal Rules, a party can move for a new trial or to
alter or amend a judgment pursuant to Rule 59, or move for
relief from a judgment or order pursuant to Rule 60. A party
making a motion under Rule 59 must file the motion no later
"than 28 days after the entry of judgment."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(b). The Fourth Circuit has held that courts
should construe a post judgment motion for reconsideration
filed within the Rule 59 deadline as a motion to alter or
amend a judgment pursuant to Rule 59(e). See Dove v.
CODESCO, 569 F.2d 807, 809 (4th Cir. 1978) ("[I]f a
post judgment motion is filed within ten days of the entry of
judgment and calls into question the correctness of that
judgment it should be treated as a motion under Rule 59(e),
however it may be formally styled."); see also
MLC Auto. LLC v. Town of S. Pines. 532 F.3d 269, 277-78
(4th Cir. 2008) (noting CODESCO continues to apply
notwithstanding the amendment of' Federal Rule of
Appellate Procedure 4). A motion that is filed later is
construed as a Rule 60(b) motion for relief from judgment or
order. In re Burnley. 988 F.2d 1, 2-3 (4th Cir.
1992); Ambling Mgmt. Co., 2010 WL 457508, at *1 n.3.
Shelton filed his motion for reconsideration on October 11,
2016, exactly twenty-eight days after the court dismissed the
case. Thus, the court will construe his motion as a motion to
alter or amend under Rule 59(e).
Rule 59(e) does not set forth the standard under which a
district court may amend an earlier judgment, the Fourth