United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
N. Stivers, Judge
matter is before the Court upon Plaintiff's Motion for
New Trial or to Alter or Amend Judgment (DN 53), which is
ripe for adjudication. For the reasons discussed below, the
motion is DENIED.
Cheray Love-Lucas (“Love-Lucas”) filed suit under
the Federal Tort Claims Act for injuries she allegedly
sustained after tripping over a wet-floor sign at the Fort
Campbell Commissary (“Commissary”). (Compl.
¶¶ 1, 3-4, DN 1). Subsequently, the United States
moved for summary judgment, and the Court granted its motion.
(Def.'s Mot. Summ. J., DN 45; Mem. Op. & Order, DN
51). In its opinion, the Court concluded that it lacked
subject matter jurisdiction over Love-Lucas's claims
because: (i) she failed to provide evidence sufficient to
overcome summary judgment on the issue of whether “Jane
Doe, ” the person who allegedly placed the sign she
tripped over, was a government employee, as opposed to an
independent contractor; and (ii) the government did not
retain control over the primary duties of the persons it
contracted with to perform custodial tasks at the Commissary.
(Mem. Op. & Order 3-5). Additionally, the Court found
that even if Love-Lucas had proven that the wet-floor sign
was placed by a government employee, her negligence claim
would still fail because the employee acted reasonably under
the circumstances. (Mem. Op. & Order 5-6). Now,
Love-Lucas has moved the Court “to grant her a new
trial on the issues of summary judgment, and the Court's
rationale on what should or should be a material fact for the
jury to decide.” (Pl.'s Mot. New Trial or Alter or
Am. J. 1, DN 53 [hereinafter Pl.'s Mot.]).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
outset, Love-Lucas asks the Court to grant her a “new
trial.” (Pl.'s Mot. 1). There was no trial in this
case because the Court disposed of all claims on summary
judgment; therefore, the Court will treat her motion as one
brought under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e). Rule 59(e) allows courts to
entertain motions to alter or amend judgments. Fed.R.Civ.P.
59(e). “A court may grant a Rule 59(e) motion to alter
or amend if there is: (1) a clear error of law; (2) newly
discovered evidence; (3) an intervening change in the
controlling law; or (4) a need to prevent manifest
injustice.” Intera Corp. v. Henderson, 428
F.3d 605, 620 (6th Cir. 2005) (citing Gencorp, Inc. v.
Am. Int'l Underwriters, 178 F.3d 804, 834 (6th Cir.
1999)). Rule 59(e) is not intended to “relitigate
issues previously considered or to submit evidence which in
the exercise of reasonable diligence, could have been
submitted before.” United States v. Abernathy,
No. 08-20103, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131310, at *1 (E.D. Mich.
Jan. 7, 2009) (internal quotation marks omitted) (citation
omitted). Moreover, motions under Rule 59(e) “are
extraordinary and sparingly granted.” Premiertox
2.0, Inc. v. Coventry Health & Life Ins. Co., No.
1:15-CV-00127-GNS-HBB, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87801, at *2
(W.D. Ky. July 6, 2016) (internal quotation marks omitted)
argues that the Court improperly decided material issues of
fact in granting summary judgment on the ground that she
failed to produce sufficient evidence that Jane Doe was a
government employee. It was Plaintiff's burden to
establish jurisdiction by proving that Jane Doe was a
government employee rather than a Trace independent
contractor. Zion v. United States, 913 F.Supp.2d
379, 383 (W.D. Ky. 2012) (citing United States ex rel.
Jones v. Horizon Healthcare Corp., 160 F.3d 326, 329
(6th Cir. 1998)). The Court found the evidence she provided,
consisting solely of Love-Lucas's affidavit, vague and
insufficient to preclude summary judgment. (Mem. Op. &
Order 3-4). Additionally, the Court rejected Love-Lucas's
argument that Jane Doe should be treated as a government
employee because Trace contractors are subject to the
government's “complete control.” (Mem. Op.
& Order 4-5). The Court found that Trace employees were
independent contractors because the plain language of the
contract between Trace and the government dictated that the
government did not retain control over Trace's primary
duties. (Mem. Op. & Order 4-5). In her present motion,
Love-Lucas merely restates arguments the Court previously
rejected, which is not enough to support a Rule 59(e) motion.
Abernathy, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131310, at *1.
Furthermore, she has failed to convince the Court that it
made “a clear error of law” or that its previous
judgment must be amended to prevent “manifest
injustice.” Intera Corp., 428 F.3d at 620. The
Court will not grant Plaintiff's motion to alter or amend
on these grounds.
also argues that the Court's previous judgment should be
altered or amended because the Court improperly relied on
Wiley v. Sam's Club East, 632 F. App'x 263
(6th Cir. 2016), and decided issues of fact in rejecting her
negligence claim. Notwithstanding the fact that the Court
declines to alter or amend its decision that it lacks subject
matter jurisdiction over Love-Lucas's claims, its
reliance on Wiley was not improper. Love-Lucas's
attempts to distinguish her case from Wiley by
speculating about what Jane Doe knew, observed, or could have
said do not convince the Court that it made a clear error of
The Court will not grant her motion on this basis.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiffs Motion for New Trial or
to Alter or Amend Judgment (DN 53) is DENIED.
Love-Lucas explains, “[t]he woman
placing the sign would have seen that Ms. Lucas, who was
standing, facing away, was not watching what was being done
behind her back and down on the floor . . . . [She] could
have easily ...