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Grant v. City of Roanoke

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division

December 13, 2019

MARK T. GRANT, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF ROANOKE, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          MICHAEL F. URBANSKI, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Mark T. Grant, proceeding pro se, has moved to reopen the time to file an appeal under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a)(6). The motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is GRANTED.

         I.

         On January 11, 2016, Grant filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the City of Roanoke (the "City"), alleging that the City improperly retained $26, 257.30 from the sale of certain real property. The property at issue was previously rehabilitated for occupancy using funds awarded to the City through the federal HOME Investment Partnerships Program. Grant claimed that the City violated regulations implementing the HOME Investment Partnerships Act ("HOME Act") and his right to due process.

         The case was initially assigned to Senior United States District Judge Glen E. Conrad. On July 18, 2017, Judge Conrad ruled that Grant had no viable claim for damages under the HOME Act itself or § 1983 for alleged violations of the Act and its implementing regulations. Accordingly, Judge Conrad granted the City's motion for summary judgment with respect to those claims. The City then filed a supplemental motion for summary judgment on Grant's due process claims, which Judge Conrad granted in part and denied in part.

         The case was subsequently transferred to the undersigned for the conduct of all further proceedings. On March 19, 2019, following a bench trial, the court entered a final order granting judgment to the City on the sole remaining claim for violation of procedural due process.

         On September 11, 2019, Grant filed a notice of appeal and a motion for leave to appeal "within the time provided for in Rule 4(a)(6)." Mot. for Leave to Appeal, Dkt. No. 64, at 1. Grant explained that he had not received notice from the Clerk's office of the entry of the final order, and that he did not learn that the final order had been entered until July 25, 2019, when he received an email from the City referencing the order. In response to that email, Grant inquired as to "what Court order" the City was referring. Id. at 2 (internal quotation marks omitted). On July 26, 2019, the City forwarded Grant PDF copies of the final order and accompanying memorandum opinion via email.

         On October 16, 2019, the court construed Grant's motion as a motion to reopen the time to file an appeal pursuant to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a)(6), and directed the City to respond. On October 30, 2019, the City filed a response in opposition to the motion along with several exhibits, including copies of the parties' email communications regarding the final order. Grant filed a reply brief in support of the motion on November 12, 2019.

         II.

         A party in a civil action generally has 30 days from the entry of a final judgment or order to file a notice of appeal. 28 U.S.C. § 2107(a); Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(1)(A). "District courts have limited authority to grant an extension of the 30-day time period." Bowles v. Russell, 551 U.S. 205, 208 (2007). As relevant here, "district courts have the statutory authority to grant motions to reopen the time for filing an appeal" if certain conditions are met. Id. (citing 28 U.S.C. § 2107(c)). This statutory authority is carried into practice by Rule 4(a)(6) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, id., which provides as follows:

The district court may reopen the time to file an appeal for a period of 14 days after the date when its order to reopen is entered, but only if all the following conditions are satisfied:
(A) the court finds that the moving party did not receive notice under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 77(d) of the entry of the judgment or order sought to be appealed within 21 days after entry;
(B) the motion is filed within 180 days after the judgment or order is entered or within 14 days after the moving party receives notice under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ...

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