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Bruce v. Wilson

United States District Court, D. Colorado

January 29, 2016

ANTOINE BRUCE, Plaintiff,
v.
C. WILSON, A. OSAGIE, F. CORDOVA, and Y. FETTERHOFF, Defendants.

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT

William J. Martínez United States District Judge

Before the Court is Plaintiff Antoine Bruce’s Motion for Relief from a Final Judgment or Order Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) (“Motion”). (ECF No. 55.) For the reasons explained below, the motion is denied.

Bruce and a co-plaintiff, Jeremy Pinson, filed this lawsuit pro se in February 2013, alleging that they both had received unconstitutionally inadequate medical care while incarcerated at USP Florence. (ECF No. 1.) Pinson’s case was severed (ECF No. 10) and Bruce then filed an amended complaint (ECF No. 18). Defendants moved to dismiss (ECF No. 39), but Bruce never responded to that motion. He instead filed a motion for appointment of counsel and a motion for a preliminary injunction, both of which were denied. (See ECF Nos. 48, 49, 51, 52.) In October 2013, United States Magistrate Judge Craig B. Shaffer issued a Report and Recommendation (“Recommendation”) recommending that the Court grant Defendants’ motion to dismiss without prejudice for failure to state a claim. (ECF No. 52.) Bruce filed no objection to the Recommendation; this Court adopted it and entered final judgment in November 2013. (ECF Nos. 53-54.)

In June 2015, Bruce filed his current Motion. Understanding the Motion requires understanding the “three strikes rule” embodied in the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), codified at various locations in Titles 28 and 42 of the United States Code. Under one provision of the PLRA, no prisoner may be granted in forma pauperis status in a newly filed action

if the prisoner has, on 3 or more prior occasions, while incarcerated or detained in any facility, brought an action or appeal in a court of the United States that was dismissed on the grounds that it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, unless the prisoner is under imminent danger of serious physical injury.

28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). At the time this lawsuit was filed, Bruce’s co-plaintiff, Pinson, apparently already had more than three strikes against him.[1] Bruce claims in his Motion that Pinson took advantage of Bruce’s mental illness to file this lawsuit without Bruce’s consent or understanding, apparently in hopes of avoiding the three strikes rule. (ECF No. 55 at 1-4.) The problem, says Bruce, is that he now has three strikes against him based on the disposition of this lawsuit (i.e., dismissal for failure to state a claim) and two other suits he has filed. (Id. at 7.) Given that he allegedly never wanted to be a part of this lawsuit in the first place, Bruce asks the Court to “relieve [him] from the final Judgement, or order of dismissal in this action in which [he] incurred a strike.” (Id. at 13.)

Bruce invokes Rule 60(b), which permits the Court to vacate the judgment on grounds of

(1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect;
(2) newly discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence, could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b);
(3) fraud (whether previously called intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party;
(4) the judgment is void;
(5) the judgment has been satisfied, released or discharged; it is based on an earlier judgment that has been reversed or vacated; or applying it prospectively is no longer equitable; or
(6) any other reason that justifies relief.

The Court finds that this unique situation conceivably fits within Rule 60(b)(6). See also Klapprott v. United States, 335 U.S. 601, 614-15 (1949) (“the language of the ‘other reason’ clause . . . vests power in courts adequate to enable them to vacate judgments whenever such action is appropriate to ...


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