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Doe v. Nichols

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

October 25, 2019

JOHN DOE, a minor by and through his next friend, MARJORIE A. BRISTOL Plaintiff,
JENNIFER NICHOLS, et al., Defendants.



         Pending before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration (Doc. No. 33), to which the Sumner County Defendants have filed a Response (Doc. No. 38).


         Plaintiff's Complaint alleged unconstitutional conditions of confinement at the Sumner County Juvenile Detention Center (“SCJDC”), where Plaintiff was allegedly kept in solitary confinement. Plaintiff sought injunctive, declaratory and compensatory relief.

         After this case was filed, but before the Court ruled on Plaintiff's Motion for Temporary Restraining Order (“TRO”), Plaintiff was transferred from the SCJDC to the Knox County Juvenile Detention Center (“KCJDC”). Based upon this transfer, Plaintiff withdrew his Motion for TRO and stated:

Plaintiff does not concede that such a transfer in locale releases the Defendants in their duty to maintain constitutional conditions of confinement while [he is] in the legal custody of DCS and the physical custody of Sumner County, but has no evidence or information to suggest that the conditions of the Knox County facility are contrary to law. Should such a discovery be made or the Plaintiff is returned to the Sumner County facility or any other facility that engages in the pattern or practice of holding children in solitary confinement indefinitely, appropriate remedies are available for Plaintiff.

(Doc. No. 22). Plaintiff also stated that he “was moved to the Knox County Juvenile Detention Center in Knoxville, Tennessee thereby ending the conditions of confinement at issue.” (Id.)

         The Sumner County Defendants (Weatherford, Troutt, and Howard) then filed a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim upon Which Relief May Be Granted (Doc. No. 25), to which Plaintiff filed no timely response. The Motion to Dismiss asserted that Plaintiff's transfer from the SCJDC to the KCJDC rendered the Court unable to grant the relief requested as to the Sumner County Defendants, because Plaintiff's claims against them were now moot. Although Defendants brought their Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the Court held that Plaintiff's injunctive and declaratory claims should be dismissed (as moot) for lack of jurisdiction, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). (Doc. No. 32). The Court also dismissed Plaintiff's claims for damages, based upon Plaintiff's failure to respond to the Motion to Dismiss. (Id.)


         Although Plaintiff asks the Court to reconsider its decision, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not provide for motions for reconsideration. Southall v. USF Holland, Inc., No. 3:15-cv-01266, 2019 WL 383998, at * 2 (M.D. Tenn. Jan. 30, 2019), appeal docketed, No. 19-5218 (6th Cir. Mar. 7, 2019); Pettrey v. Enterprise Title Agency, Inc., 242 F.R.D. 384, 385 (N.D. Ohio 2007). Instead, such motions are considered motions to alter or amend judgments pursuant to Rule 59(e). Id.[1]

         Motions to alter or amend, brought pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e), are entrusted to the Court's sound discretion. United States v. Tenn. Walking Horse Breeders' and Exhibitors' Ass'n, 263 F.Supp.3d 679, 681 (M.D. Tenn. 2017). A motion under Rule 59(e) is not an opportunity to re-argue a case. Id. Rather, the Court may grant a Rule 59(e) motion only if there is: (1) a clear error of law; (2) newly-discovery evidence; (3) an intervening change in controlling law; or (4) a need to prevent manifest injustice. Id.

         Generally, relief under Rule 59(e) is an “extraordinary remedy” restricted to those circumstances in which the moving party has set forth facts or law of a strongly convincing nature that indicate that the court's prior ruling should be reversed. Harris v. Perry, No. 2:12-cv-02668, 2016 WL 5396701, at * 3 (W.D. Tenn. Sept. 27, 2016). Essentially, a showing of manifest injustice requires that there exists a fundamental flaw in the court's decision that without correction would lead to a result that is both inequitable and not in line with applicable policy. Id. The Sixth Circuit has made clear that the standard for manifest injustice is “an exacting standard” and that a successful Rule 59(e) motion must “clearly establish a manifest error of law.” Heithcock v. Tenn. Dep't of Children's Servs., Civil No. 3:14-cv-2377, 2015 WL 5970894, at * 1 (M.D. Tenn. Oct. 14, 2015).

         Mere disagreement with a court's findings does not rise to the level of manifest injustice under Rule 59(e). McDaniel v. American Gen. Fin. Servs., Inc., No. 04-2667B, 2007 WL 20842776, at * 2 (W.D. Tenn. July 17, 2007). The “manifest injustice” ground for a Rule 59(e) motion is not meant to allow a disappointed litigant to attempt to persuade the Court to change its mind. Harris, 2016 WL 5396701, at * 3.

         INJUNCTIVE AND ...

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