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Mathis v. County of Lyon

United States District Court, D. Nevada

August 26, 2014

RICHARD MATHIS, Individually, as Special Administrator of the Estate of Joe Robinson Mathis (a/k/a Joe R. Mathis), and as Trustee of the Joe Robinson Mathis and Eleanor Margherite Mathis Trust; JAMES MATHIS; and ANTHONY MATHIS, Plaintiffs,
v.
COUNTY OF LYON and RICHARD GLOVER, in his individual capacity, Defendants.

ORDER DENYING COUNTY OF LYON'S MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION (DKT. No. 210)

ANDREW P. GORDON, District Judge.

I. BACKGROUND

The factual and procedural background of this case has been recited on multiple occasions, [1] and there is no need to do so again except as necessary to rule on the pending motion for reconsideration.[2]

On April 11, 2014, I entered an Order resolving motions for summary judgment filed by Glover, Lyon County, and the Plaintiffs.[3] As relevant to this Order, I granted summary judgment in Plaintiffs' favor on their Fourteenth Amendment procedural due process claim against Glover, and denied summary judgment on the claims for Monell liability against the County of Lyon, which stem from Glover's alleged violations of the Fourth Amendment and his violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

On May 21, 2014, the County moved for reconsideration.[4] The County argues that two of my rulings in the April 11 Order were clearly erroneous and will work a manifest injustice on the County if not addressed. First, the County contends that the unoccupied Mathis residence was not entitled to the same degree of protection under the Fourth Amendment as an otherwise occupied home. Accordingly, the County asserts, the Plaintiffs did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the Mathis House. Second, the County contends that my Fourteenth Amendment analysis was flawed because (i) pre-deprivation notice and an opportunity to be heard would have defeated the entire point of Glover's seizure of personal property from within the Mathis House, and (ii) an adequate post-deprivation remedy exists under state law to address Glover's deprivation of the Plaintiffs' property.

Next, the County seeks clarification as to (i) whether the Estate of Joseph R. Mathis (the "Estate") is still a party to this case and (2) whether I held that NRS ยง 253.0405 is facially unconstitutional.

II. ANALYSIS

A. Legal Standard

Rule 54(b) permits the "entry of a final judgment as to one or more, but fewer than all, claims or parties only if the court expressly determines that there is no just reason for delay."

Otherwise, any order or other decision, however designated, that adjudicates fewer than all the claims or the rights and liabilities of fewer than all the parties does not end the action as to any of the claims or parties and may be revised at any time before the entry of judgment adjudicating all the claims and all the parties' rights and liabilities.[5]

Put more simply, "absent an express entry of final judgment, all orders of a district court are subject to reopening at the discretion of the district judge.'"[6] If the Court's prior order did not dispose of all claims as to all parties, it may be "revised at any time before the entry of judgment" under Rule 54(b).

The district court's power to rescind, reconsider, or modify an interlocutory order also exists outside the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.[7]

"If no procedure is specifically prescribed by rule, the court may proceed in any lawful manner not inconsistent with these rules or with any applicable statute. Nothing in the Rules limits the power of the court to correct mistakes made in its handling of a case so long as the court's jurisdiction continues, i.e., until the entry of judgment. In short, the power to grant relief from erroneous interlocutory orders, exercised in justice and good conscience, has long been recognized as within the plenary power of courts until entry of final judgment and is not inconsistent with any of the Rules."[8]

The district court's discretion to reopen or reconsider an order is governed by the law-of-the-case doctrine.[9] The purpose of that doctrine is to "maintain consistency and avoid reconsideration of matters once decided during the course of a single continuing lawsuit."[10] "Law-of-the-case principles... are a matter of practice that rests on good sense and the desire to protect both court and the parties against the burdens of repeated arguments by indefatigable diehards."[11] "[T]he law of the case doctrine is subject to three exceptions that may arise when (1) the decision is clearly erroneous and its enforcement would work a manifest injustice, (2) intervening controlling authority makes ...


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