United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, Pikeville
OPINION & ORDER
E. WIER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
October 11, 2018, the Court dismissed all of Plaintiff Jeff
Huang's claims against the Presbyterian Church. DE 28
(Opinion & Order). The Court also dismissed eleven of
Huang's thirteen claims against his former school, the
University of Pikeville, and various past and present
University personnel. Id. Plaintiff believes the
Court got it wrong. See DE 37 (Motion to Alter,
Amend, or Vacate). Huang asks the Court to reconsider the
dismissals because they are supported “with little or
no binding precedential authority[.]” Id. at
4. Defendants responded. DE 38 & 39. Huang replied. DE
40. The motion stands ripe for review. For the following
reasons, the Court sees no basis to disturb its prior ruling
and denies Huang's motion.
in a motion deriding the Court's choices for supporting
authority, Huang relies on a procedural rule, Fed.R.Civ.P.
59(e), that does not sanction the relief sought. See
DE 37 at 1. Rule 59(e) provides only that a “motion to
alter or amend a judgment must be filed no later than 28 days
after the entry of the judgment.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
59(e). Of course, the Court did not enter a
judgment, which is an order from which an appeal lies.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(a). When, as here, “an
action presents more than one claim for relief . . . or when
multiple parties are involved, the court may direct entry of
a final judgment as to . . . fewer than all[ ] claims or
parties only if the court expressly determines that there is
no just reason for delay.” See Fed. R. Civ. P.
54(b); see also Brown Shoe Co. v. United States, 82
S.Ct. 1502, 1513 (1962) (“The requirement that a final
judgment shall have been entered in a case by a lower court
before a right of appeal attaches has an ancient history in
federal practice, first appearing in the Judiciary Act of
1789.”). The Court has made no such determination.
Moreover, even if the Court's October 11, 2018, decision
was (or included) a judgment, Plaintiff's December 6,
2018, motion would be time barred. See Fed. R. Civ.
P. 59(e) (allowing a motion within “28
days”). Huang concedes in reply that Rule 59 is
the wrong vehicle. See DE 40 at 3. Because Huang
cited no authority justifying the relief sought, the Court
denies the motion.
merits, too, warrant denial. “Under Rule 59, a court
may alter the judgment based on: ‘(1) a clear error of
law; (2) newly discovered evidence; (3) an intervening change
in controlling law; or (4) a need to prevent manifest
injustice.'” Leisure Caviar, LLC v. U.S. Fish
& Wildlife Serv., 616 F.3d 612, 615 (6th Cir. 2010)
(quoting Intera Corp. v. Henderson, 428 F.3d 605,
620 (6th Cir. 2005)). Though Huang does not explicitly peg
his argument to any of these particular avenues, he appears
to argue clear legal error. See DE 37 at 2
(“[T]he Court has misapprehended certain principles of
law applicable to this case.”).
overarching theme of the reconsideration request is
Huang's apparent belief that district courts must
granularly support each aspect of their decisions with
citations to directly controlling caselaw. Specifically,
Plaintiff claims the Court: (1) did not cite to binding
precedent for “[e]ach of the points in
contention” in dismissing the Presbyterian Church
claims, DE 37 at 5; (2) cited non-binding precedent or dicta
to support limitations-based dismissals, id. at 6;
(3) improperly relied on federal district court and Kentucky
Supreme Court decisions in determining the applicable
statutes of limitations, id. at 6-7; (4) misread the
Supreme Court's decision in Ziglar v. Abbasi and
mischaracterized the Bivens holding as limited to
Fourth Amendment claims and federal officials, id.
at 7-9; (5) cited only “seven unreported cases”
in its “extensive discussion” of continuing
violations, id. at 9; (6) relied on non-binding
precedent for its conclusions regarding equitable tolling and
“color of state law” under § 1983,
id; and (7) cited a Sixth Circuit affirmance based,
in part, on a non-binding Aristotelian logical principle in
rejecting Plaintiffs RICO claims, id. at 10. From
these sub-claims, Huang arrives at the conclusion that he has
“clearly and irrefutably shown” that “the
Court [ ] failed to adequately support its decision with the
citation of authority.” Id. at 10.
tack here is unique and, frankly, absurd. Most of Huang's
argument is directed to proving that the Court cited cases
that it was not institutionally bound to
follow. At the same time, Plaintiff acknowledges the obvious
counterpoint that non-controlling precedent's
“reasoning may be ‘instructive' or
helpful.” DE 37 at 3 (quoting Crump v. Lafler,
657 F.3d 393, 405 (6th Cir. 2011)). Huang, with minimal
exceptions, does not cite to contrary precedent of any
kind-much less binding authority. Thus, Huang mostly fails to
dispute the legal rationale undergirding the Court's
rulings. Most importantly, Huang wholly fails to explain why
citation to non-binding precedent amounts to “a clear
error of law[.]” Leisure Caviar, LLC, 616 F.3d
at 615. Accordingly (and given the failure, in the first
instance, to cite supporting authority for the motion), the
Court rejects most of Huang's contentions summarily.
See, e.g., Simmons v. Kapture, 516 F.3d
450, 456 (6th Cir. 2008) (relying, in part, on prior ruling,
though “non-binding for present purposes” as
“reinforc[ing] the logic of” holding); United
States v. Green, 554 Fed.Appx. 491, 496 n.1 (6th Cir.
2014) (“Green also takes issue with the lower
court's reliance on United States v. Micou, 48
F.3d 1220 (6th Cir. 1995) . . . because it is an unpublished
case and thus is non-binding. This does not take away from
its factual similarity or its persuasive authority on the
vitality of probable cause despite changes in
Plaintiffs Bivens contentions warrant additional
discussion. Plaintiff, responding to the University
Defendants' motion to dismiss, stated:
Defendants also suggest that there is no private cause of
action for violations of the Fourteenth Amendment, except
through 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Civil Rights Act.
Plaintiffs [sic] are mistaken. Such a private cause of action
was recognized by the Supreme Court in Bivens v. Six
Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388, 390-95
(1971) (the Constitution provides “an independent claim
both necessary and sufficient to make out the plaintiffs
cause of action”).
at 17. Addressing Huang's only contention, that the
Bivens Court recognized a private Fourteenth
Amendment cause of action, the Court directly quoted the
Ziglar Court's description of the
Bivens holding. See DE 28 at 11 n.12.
now, suggests that the Court “misread the holding of
Ziglar” and, for the first time, cites to
later cases applying Bivens in
other contexts. See DE 37 at 7. There are several
problems with Plaintiffs theory. First, the Court never
purported to apply Ziglar's holding. Rather, the
Court quoted Ziglar's description of a prior
holding because it directly refuted Huang's sole
Bivens-based contention. Second, Huang's attempt
to raise a new Bivens-based argument at this stage
does not suggest that the Court's rejection of his
original Bivens argument was error. See Sault
Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians v. Engler,
146 F.3d 367, 374 (6th Cir. 1998) (“[Arguments which
could, and should, have been made” on initial
consideration are barred for reconsideration purposes.).
While subsequent decisions have indeed expanded the
Bivens remedy to certain Fifth and
Eighth Amendment claims, Bivens, itself, recognized
no such cause of action. Huang originally argued the latter
and now pursues the former. Third, the Court already
anticipated the possibility that Huang, though failing to
truly make the claim, may have intended to argue the type of
theory he now presents. The Court, anticipatorily rejected
does not confront the crux of the Court's rejection of
the Bivens expansion he now proposes-i.e.,
that neither Bivens or its progeny authorizes a
private Fourteenth-Amendment cause of action and that further
expansion is disfavored. He cites to no Fourteenth Amendment
applications of the Bivens remedy. Also notable,
given Plaintiff's tirade against non-binding precedent,
is Huang's citation to an obviously distinguishable,
non-binding District of Rhode Island decision for his
contention that Bivens supports a cause of action
against private entities. DE 37 at 8. Finally,
Defendant's reliance on the Supreme Court's
interpretation of Title IX in Grove City Coll. v.
Bell, 104 S.Ct. 1211 (1984) hardly shows that the Court
clearly erred by failing to authorize disfavored
Bivens-expansion for an entirely novel
Constitutional basis and defendant class.
of these reasons, the Court DENIES DE 37.