United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
K. MOON SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Norman K. Moon Supreme King Justice Allah, a Virginia inmate
proceeding pro se, filed a civil rights action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Defendants
Woodson, Hostetter, and Lokey (collectively
“Defendants”) violated his constitutional rights.
This Court granted Defendants' motion for summary
judgment on August 24, 2016. (Dkt. 31). Almost two years
later, Allah filed a motion for reconsideration pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(2) and 60(b)(6). (Dkt. 37). Allah's
motion is untimely under Rule 60(c)(1) and does not meet the
extraordinary circumstances required for relief under Rule
60(b)(6). Therefore, it should be denied.
initially brought this action on June 8, 2015, (dkt. 1), two
and a half years after he arrived at the Augusta Correctional
Center (“Augusta”). (Dkt. 30). In his initial
complaint, Allah claimed that Defendant Lokey violated
Allah's First Amendment rights by confiscating a document
entitled “They Call them Five Percenters.” (Dkt.
1). Allah further claimed that Defendants Hostetter and
Woodsen violated his due process and equal protection rights
when Defendant Hostetter denied Allah documentary evidence of
a disciplinary hearing and Defendant Woodson upheld the
disciplinary conviction on appeal.
2016 memorandum opinion, this Court granted Defendants'
motion for summary judgment because Allah's First
Amendment claims were untimely filed. (Dkt. 30). The Court
reasoned that, “for the purposes of the statute of
limitations, § 1983 claims are considered personal
injury claims and are governed by the personal injury statute
of limitations and tolling laws in the state where the
alleged injury occurs.” (Id.) (citing
Lewellen v. Morley, 875 F.2d 118, 120 (7th
Cir. 1989); Hardin v. Straub, 490 U.S> 536, 539
(1989); Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 279 (1985);
and Blanck v. McKeen, 707 F.2d 817, 819 (4th Cir.
1983)). Allah's claims took place in Virginia, and
therefore Virginia's two-year statute of limitations for
general, personal injury claims applies. (Id.
see Va. Code 8.01-243(A)). The alleged violation
occurred on May 16, 2013 and this action was filed on June 2,
2015, accordingly Allah's claims against Defendant Lokey
were barred by the statute of limitations. (Id.).
Court also granted Defendants' motion for summary
judgment as to Allah's claims of due process and equal
protection violations. Regarding the due process claim, the
Court stated that Allah did not demonstrate that he had been
deprived of life, liberty, or property, as required to
establish a violation of procedural due process.
(Id. (citing Beverati v. Smith, 120 F.3d
500, 502 (4th Cir. 1997)). As for the equal protection claim,
the Court found that Allah did not set forth the necessary
“‘specific, non-conclusory factual allegations
that establish improper motive, '” required to
state a claim for violation of equal protection.
(Id.) (quoting Williams v. Hansen, 326 F.3d
569, 584 (4th Cir. 2003)).
did not appeal the grant of summary judgment, but, almost two
years after the final order in this case was entered, he
filed this motion pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 60(b). (Dkt.
basis of his Rule 60 motion is Coward v. Robinson,
276 F.Supp.3d 544, 566 (E.D.Va. 2017), which held that, based
on the record before the court, the plaintiff in that case
had “carried his burden of proving that the [Nation of
Gods and Earths] is a religion.” Accordingly, Allah
states that “the Nation of Gods and Earths was not a
Security Threat Group and was a lawful religious
organization”, and that the material he possessed,
which was associated with the group, was not gang
paraphernalia. (Dkt. 37). Thus, Allah argues, the standard to
determine if he suffered a First Amendment violation was
misapplied. (Dkt. 37).
60(b) allows a party to seek relief from a final civil
judgment in a limited number of circumstances, including: (1)
mistake or neglect; (2) newly discovered evidence; (3) fraud;
(4) the judgment is void; (5) the judgment has been
satisfied; and (6) “any other reason that justifies
relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b). “A motion under Rule
60(b) must be made within a reasonable time - and for reasons
(1), (2), and (3) no more than a year after the entry of the
judgment or order or the date of the proceeding.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(c)(1). Relief under Rule 60(b)(6) “may
be invoked in only extraordinary circumstances when the
reason for relief from judgment does not fall within the list
of enumerated reasons given in Rule 60(b)(1)-(5).”
Aikens v. Ingram, 652 F.3d 496, 500 (4th Cir. 2011)
(internal quotations omitted).
asks this Court to reconsider an order entered August 24,
2016. Allah's Rule 60(b) motion was filed on June 21,
2018. Because Allah's motion pursuant to Rule 60(b)(2)
was made more than a year after the order at issue, it must
be denied. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(c)(1). Allah's
request for relief under Rule 60(b)(6) is also unavailing.
Allah states that “the ‘error' which rise[s]
above ‘excusable neglect, '” therefore
permitting relief under Rule 60(b)(6), is this Court's
misapplication of the standards when reviewing his First
Amendment claims. (Dkt. 37 at 4).
support of this claim, Allah points to the holding in
Coward, which established that the plaintiffs
beliefs relating to the Nations of Gods and Earth were
“sufficiently religious in nature to be entitled to
protection under” the Free Exercise clause. 276
F.Supp.3d at 567. Because Allah's First Amendment claims
relate to his possession of material provided by the Nations
of Gods and Earths, he claims this Court applied the
incorrect standard in reviewing those claims.
“Intervening developments in the law by themselves
rarely constitute the extraordinary circumstances required
for relief under Rule 60(b)(6).” Agostini v.
Felton, 521 U.S. 203, 238 (1997). However, even if this
were one of the rare exceptions, developments in the law
surrounding Allah's First Amendment claim would not have
impacted this case. Summary judgment was granted for
Defendants because the statute of limitations on Allah's
§ 1983 claim had expired. (Dkt. 30) (“Allah filed
this action on June 2, 2015, more than two years after the
alleged causes of action accrued. Accordingly, I conclude
that Allah's claims against [Defendant Lokey] are barred
by the statute of limitations.”). Because Allah does
not describe the extraordinary circumstances required for a
Rule 60(b)(6) remedy, the Court will deny his motion for
reconsideration. See Aikens 652 F.3d at 502 (4th
Clerk is directed to send a copy of this Memorandum Opinion