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Hanson v. Madison County Detention Center

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington

July 17, 2017

JOHN HANSON, Plaintiff,
v.
MADISON COUNTY DETENTION CENTER, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION & ORDER

          Robert E. Wier United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff John Hanson, by counsel, moved pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) and 60(b)(6) to amend the Judgment. DE #164. The Madison County Defendants responded in opposition, DE #169, as did the Richmond City Defendants. DE #170. Hanson replied. DE #171. Following the briefing close, Hanson moved for leave to supplement the record with additional evidence not previously filed. DE ##172, 176. The Madison County Defendants and the Richmond City Defendants separately responded in opposition. DE ##175, 177. Despite having the opportunity, Plaintiff did not reply. Finally, the Madison County Defendants separately moved for leave to file a surreply to Hanson's reply in support of his motion to amend the Judgment. DE #174. Hanson did not respond. All three motions are now ripe for consideration.

         For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS the Madison County Defendants permission to file the substantive surreply (DE #174), DENIES Hanson leave to supplement the record (DE #172), and DENIES Hanson's motion to amend the Judgment (DE #164). For the reasons stated, the briefing warrants the surreply. Hanson does not offer any justification supporting record supplementation. On the merits of the substantive motion, Hanson, who essentially seeks a de novo run at the dispositive motion process, falls woefully short of warranting relief.

         I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

         On January 23, 2017, the Court fully granted the Madison County Defendants' motion for summary judgment (DE #127) and denied Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment (DE #130). DE #160 (Memorandum Opinion & Order). The Court simultaneously entered judgment. DE #161. To briefly summarize the factual background (to the extent necessary here), Hanson alleged mistreatment during a brief detention at the Madison County Detention Center (MCDC) following his arrest for disorderly conduct in Richmond, Kentucky. He raised constitutional claims under Fourth (pleaded as Eighth) Amendment excessive force and failure-to-train theories as well as several related state law claims. The Court assumes familiarity with the entire scope of the case, a more detailed recitation of which occurs in DE #160. In the summary judgment Opinion, the Court held that “[v]arious immunity doctrines and legal principles shield each Madison County Defendant from every claim.” DE #160, at 2.

         In the present substantive motion, Hanson seeks relief from judgment. Specifically, Hanson asks the Court to alter or amend and set the matter for trial “to avoid a grave injustice to Plaintiff and/or provide relief from judgment against him.” DE #164-1, at 27. The motion partly rehashes prior arguments and partly endeavors to make novel arguments on a remodeled record. The Court rejects these efforts and stands on its prior rulings. Hanson fails to trigger relief under the taxing rubrics of Rule 59(e) and 60(b)(6).

         II. MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE A SURREPLY

         The Court first addresses the Madison County Defendants' motion for leave to file a surreply to Hanson's reply in support of the motion to amend. See DE #174 (Motion). Hanson did not respond. The motion is ripe for consideration.

         “Although the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not expressly permit the filing of sur-replies, such filings may be allowed in the appropriate circumstances, especially ‘when new submissions and/or arguments are included in a reply brief, and a nonmovant's ability to respond to the new evidence has been vitiated.'” Key v. Shelby Cnty., 551 F. App'x 262, 265 (6th Cir. 2014) (quoting Seay v. Tenn. Valley Auth., 339 F.3d 454, 481 (6th Cir. 2003)). “[M]any courts have noted” that surreplies “are highly disfavored.” Liberty Legal Found. v. Nat'l Democratic Party of the USA, Inc., 875 F.Supp.2d 791, 797 (W.D. Tenn. 2012). Still, the Sixth Circuit reviews a district court's decision whether to grant leave to file a surreply “under the deferential abuse-of-discretion standard.” Mirando v. U.S. Dep't of Treasury, 766 F.3d 540, 549 (6th Cir. 2014). A district court abuses its discretion, for example, when it denies permission to file a surreply after a party presents “new arguments and new evidence in [its] reply brief.” Eng'g & Mfg. Servs., LLC v. Ashton, 387 F. App'x 575, 583 (6th Cir. 2010). Overall, though, “[w]hether to permit a party to file a surreply is a matter left to the trial court's discretion.” Rose v. Liberty Life Ins. Co. of Boston, No. 3:15-CV-28-DJH-CHL, 2015 WL 10002923, at *1 (W.D. Ky. Oct. 19, 2015).

         The Court has fully analyzed the underlying briefing-DE ##164, 169, 170, and 171-as well as the motion for leave to file a surreply-DE #174. The Court, in an exercise of its discretion, finds the Madison County Defendants' proposed surreply appropriate in the circumstances. The Sixth Circuit's focus is whether “new submissions and/or arguments are included in a reply brief.” Key, 551 F. App'x at 265; Ashton, 387 F. App'x at 583. Here, as the Madison County Defendants persuasively claim, Hanson did indeed include new arguments and evidence in DE #171; this justifies a surreply. To briefly summarize, Hanson newly argued that the Court erred in its application of Scott v. Harris, 127 S.Ct. 1769 (2007), and its progeny, specifically as to the summary judgment analysis of Hanson's excessive force claims arising from the pepper spray and taser allegations. Compare DE #164-1, with DE #171. Hanson also newly argued that Defendant Napier provided inconsistent statements as to Napier and Whitaker's involvement in the tasing incident, and he attached new evidentiary submissions allegedly in support. See DE ##171-1, 173. Defendants limit the surreply to Hanson's new argument and documents, see DE #174-1, at 1 n.1, and appropriately refrain from returning to ground already covered in the underlying motion briefing.

         Further, the Madison County Defendants timely filed the motion for leave, greatly diminishing any timing or gamesmanship concerns that may negatively tinge surreply motions. See Key, 551 F. App'x at 265 (“[c]onsidering the amount of time that passed between Shelby County's filing of its reply brief and Key's filing of her motion for leave to file a sur-reply” and concluding the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Key permission to file a surreply given an “unexplained delay of six months in moving for leave to file” it).

         For these reasons, the Court GRANTS DE #174 and DIRECTS the Clerk to file DE #174-1 in the record as a surreply particular to DE #171.

         III. MOTION FOR LEAVE TO SUPPLEMENT THE RECORD

         The Court next addresses Plaintiff's motion, “pursuant to Civ. R. 60(b)(1), ” to supplement the record. Hanson seeks to add Defendant Whitaker's recorded interview with the Kentucky State Police and the FBI. DE ##172 (Motion), 176 (Conventional Filing). Plaintiff contends that Whitaker's statements given to the KSP and FBI “completely contradict” his deposition testimony as to tasering of Hanson. Id. Per Plaintiff's authoring counsel, Hanson's fourth group of lawyers during the pendency of this suit, this recording was previously available to Plaintiff but not filed during summary judgment briefing. Id. (“Plaintff's current attorneys cannot speak as to why Plaintiff's previous attorneys failed to make this recording a part of the record.”). Hanson contends the he “should not be ...


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