United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO ALTER OR
RICARDO S. MARTINEZ, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on pro se Plaintiff
Gabriel Eckard's Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment. Dkt.
#38. On September 24, 2019, this Court granted
Defendants' motion for summary judgment and dismissed
Plaintiff's claims with prejudice. Dkt. #36. On October
2, 2019, Plaintiff moved to alter or amend the judgment on
the basis that the Court committed manifest error in its
decision. For the reasons stated below, the Court DENIES
a pretrial detainee at the Snohomish County Jail
(“SCJ”) in Everett, Washington, filed this action
on December 14, 2018 against four SCJ staff. Dkt. #5.
Plaintiff claimed that his continued confinement in the
Maximum Security module at the SJC violated his due process
rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S.
Constitution since he never received a hearing for a rule
violation. Id. at ¶¶ 21-26. On March 4,
2019, Defendants moved for summary judgment dismissal. Dkt.
#15. The Honorable Michelle L. Peterson, U.S. Magistrate
Judge, issued a Report and Recommendation
(“R&R”) on May 17, 2019, that recommended
summary judgment dismissal of Plaintiff's claims. Dkt.
#25. The R&R found no material dispute of fact that
Plaintiff's placement and retention in the Maximum
Security module was reasonably related to legitimate
government objectives, including safety and security of
Plaintiff, SJC staff, and other inmates, because of
Plaintiff's threats to hurt himself, threats to hurt or
kill staff members, and spreading of fecal matter and bodily
fluids in and around his cell. Id. at 10.
Objections to the R&R, Plaintiff argued that his
confinement constituted “cruel and unusual
punishment” under the Eighth Amendment because of his
mental health conditions. Dkt. #33 at 4-11, 13-90. On
September 24, 2019, this Court approved the R&R and
granted summary judgment dismissal of Plaintiff's claims.
Dkt. #36. In response to Plaintiff's Objections, the
Court noted that Plaintiff's filing totaled ninety pages
and vastly exceeded the three-page limit required by the
R&R. Id. at 4. The Court nevertheless reviewed
Plaintiff's over-length brief and concluded that his
arguments about mental health treatment and the Eighth
Amendment were not properly before the Court. Id.
now moves to alter or amend the judgment. Dkt. #38.
district court has considerable discretion when considering a
motion to alter or amend a judgment under Rule 59(e).
Turner v. Burlington N. Santa Fe R. Co., 338 F.3d
1058, 1063 (9th Cir. 2003). There are four grounds upon which
a Rule 59(e) motion may be granted: (1) the motion is
necessary to correct manifest errors of law or fact upon
which the judgment is based; (2) the moving party presents
newly discovered or previously unavailable evidence; (3) the
motion is necessary to prevent manifest injustice; or (4)
there is an intervening change in controlling law.
Id. Vacating a prior judgment under Rule 59(e) is an
“extraordinary remedy, to be used sparingly in the
interests of finality and conservation of judicial
resources.” Carroll v. Nakatani, 342 F.3d 934,
945 (9th Cir. 2003). “A Rule 59(e) motion may not be
used to raise arguments or present evidence for the first
time when they could reasonably have been raised earlier in
the litigation.” Id.
does not present newly-discovered evidence or cite an
intervening change in the controlling law. Instead, he argues
that the Court committed manifest error in concluding that
his Eighth Amendment claims were beyond the scope of this
action. Plaintiff contends that his Eighth Amendment claims
“are Due Process Fourteenth Amendment
claims” pursuant to Carnell v. Grimm, 74 F.3d
977, 979 (9th Cir. 1996). Dkt. #38 at 2 (emphasis in
original). For that reason, Plaintiff argues, he sufficiently
pleaded “an Eighth Amendment-Fourteenth Amendment
violation” when he pleaded violations of his due
process rights. Id. (citing Redman v. County of
San Diego, 942 F.2d 1435 (9th Cir. 1991)). He also
argues that he pleaded this Eighth Amendment claim
“from the get-go” because his complaint
referenced his mental illness. Dkt. #40 at 1; Dkt. #5 at
¶ 18 (“Plaintiff is seriously mentally ill and the
conditions of his confinement only exacerbate his
symptoms.”); id. at ¶ 26 (“[T]he
conditions of disciplinary segregation amount to
Court finds Plaintiff's arguments unavailing. While
Plaintiff's pro se appearance requires that the
Court construe his filings liberally, see Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007), he has not demonstrated
manifest error by the Court that would warrant the
extraordinary remedy he requests. First, the cases he relies
on are inapposite. In Carnell, the Ninth Circuit
held that the Eighth Amendment is an appropriate benchmark
for evaluating a pre-trial detainee's right to medical
care. 74 F.3d at 979. In Redman, the court discussed
a pre-trial detainee's right to personal security under
the Fourteenth Amendment. 942 F.2d 1435. Neither case
supports Plaintiff's contention that a claim under the
Eighth Amendment's “cruel and unusual”
punishment clause is sufficiently pleaded in a complaint that
only asserts violations of due process rights for confinement
in a maximum security module without a hearing on a rule
violation. See Dkt. #5 at ¶¶ 20-26
(alleging Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment violations).
Plaintiff's references to mental illness in his complaint
do not raise triable issues of fact necessary to survive
summary judgment. Under Plaintiff's theory, the Court
erred in failing to identify a triable issue based on
unsupported statements in his pleadings. Dkt. #40 at 3.
Plaintiff specifically contends “[t]here is no rule
that requires a plaintiff in a suit to guide a judge to the
triable issues of fact in a civil action, nor is a plaintiff
responsible for a judge's error in failing to identify
such triable issues.” Id. Plaintiff is
incorrect. As the party opposing summary judgment, Plaintiff
was indeed required to identify triable issues in his
response. See S. Cal. Gas Co. v. City of Santa Ana,
336 F.3d 885, 889 (9th Cir. 2003) (party opposing summary
judgment must direct court to specific triable facts). He
failed to do so. Instead, Plaintiff's response only
discussed whether he posed a security threat. See,
e.g., Dkt. #21 at 6 (“Plaintiff Eckard's
prison behavior does not include alleged incidents of
assault, fights, drugs or thefts . . . since being booked
into the jail, Plaintiff has not attempted any assaults on
jail staff or other inmates.”). For that reason, both
parties' briefing failed to address the legal question
Plaintiff now claims the Court overlooked: Whether, under the
Eighth Amendment, Plaintiff's alleged mental health
issues outweigh or mitigate Defendants' legitimate safety
and security reasons for placing Plaintiff in the Maximum
Security module. Accordingly, the Court finds no manifest
error in its determination that Plaintiff's Eighth
Amendment argument was not properly before the Court.
Plaintiff argues that the Court must amend its judgment
because Plaintiff had no access to discovery prior to the
close of briefing. Dkt. #40 at 11 (citing Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(f)). As an initial matter, this argument is untimely.
Tile Tech, Inc. v. Appian Way Sales, Inc.,
C17-1660JLR, 2018 WL 2113958, at *4 (W.D. Wash. May 8, 2018)
(“A district court cannot consider arguments raised for
the first time in a reply brief.”) (internal citations
omitted). Moreover, a Rule 56 declaration must be submitted
before the Court has ruled. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
56(d). Granting Plaintiff's request at this stage would
undermine both the purpose of Rule 56 and judicial economy.
See Ross v. F/V MELANIE, C95-654Z, 1996 WL 521413,
at *1 (W.D. Wash. Aug. 8, 1996) (Denying motion to amend
judgment where plaintiff failed to submit affidavit under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 before Court issued adverse ruling).
reasons set forth above, the Court finds no manifest error in
its earlier ruling that warrants the extraordinary remedy
sought by Plaintiff. Accordingly, the Court finds and ORDERS