United States District Court, D. Colorado
A. BRIMMER United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendant Jeffrey Watts'
Motion for Reconsideration of this Court's Order Dated
March 29, 2016 [Docket No. 809].
originally asserted claims against Mr. Watts for unreasonable
search and seizure, conspiracy, and excessive use of force as
violations of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Docket
No. 254 at 19-21, ¶¶ 90-95, 100-105. On July 13,
2015, Mr. Watts moved for summary judgment. Docket No. 697.
Plaintiff did not file a response. Based on Mr. Watts'
motion, the magistrate judge recommended the dismissal of Mr.
Watts as to all claims. Docket No. 783 at 22-30. Plaintiff
did not object to the magistrate judge's recommendation.
Although plaintiff did not object to the recommendation, the
Court conducted an independent review of the magistrate
judge's recommendation to determine if the dismissal of
Mr. Watts was appropriate. Docket No. 804 at 15-16. The Court
rejected the magistrate judge's recommendation as to
plaintiff's excessive force claim regarding the alleged
August 24, 2010 incident on two grounds: first, because the
recommendation erroneously relied on whether plaintiff has
alleged anything more than a de minimis injury,
id., and, second, because the Court was
“unaware of any case that immunizes officers from
excessive force claims if the victim of such force is able to
evade capture.” Id. at 16.
Watts seeks reconsideration [Docket No. 809] because, in the
course of researching a potential interlocutory appeal, he
discovered an unpublished opinion of the Tenth Circuit,
United States v. Beamon, 576 F. App'x 753 (10th
Cir. 2014), that addressed the question of whether a
“seizure” under the Fourth Amendment can take
place where a police officer attempts an arrest, but the
plaintiff's liberty is not restrained by such attempt.
Id. at 757-58. Beamon held that a show of
authority, which does not result in actual restraint, is not
a seizure and therefore does not implicate the Fourth
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not specifically provide
for motions for reconsideration. See Hatfield v. Bd. of
County Comm'rs for Converse County, 52 F.3d 858, 861
(10th Cir. 1995). Instead, motions for reconsideration fall
within a court's plenary power to revisit and amend
interlocutory orders as justice requires. See Paramount
Pictures Corp. v. Thompson Theatres, Inc., 621 F.2d
1088, 1090 (10th Cir. 1980) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b));
see also Houston Fearless Corp., 313 F.2d at 92.
However, in order to avoid the inefficiency which would
attend the repeated re-adjudication of interlocutory orders,
judges in this district have imposed limits on their broad
discretion to revisit interlocutory orders. See, e.g.,
Montano v. Chao, No. 07-cv-00735-EWN-KMT, 2008 WL
4427087, at *5-6 (D. Colo. Sept. 28, 2008) (applying Rule
60(b) analysis to the reconsideration of interlocutory
order); United Fire & Cas. Co. v. McCrerey &
Roberts Constr. Co., No. 06-cv-00037-WYD-CBS, 2007 WL
1306484, at *1-2 (D. Colo. May 3, 2007) (applying Rule 59(e)
standard to the reconsideration of the duty-to-defend order).
Regardless of the analysis applied, the basic assessment
tends to be the same: courts consider whether new evidence or
legal authority has emerged or whether the prior ruling was
clearly in error. Motions to reconsider are generally an
inappropriate vehicle to advance “new arguments, or
supporting facts which were available at the time of the
original motion.” Servants of the Paraclete v.
Does, 204 F.3d 1005, 1012 (10th Cir. 2000).
Watts states that counsel “discovered”
Beamon while researching another matter. Docket No.
809 at 2. Mr. Watts filed his summary judgment motion on July
13, 2015. Docket No. 697. Beamon was decided in
2014. In his summary judgment motion, Mr. Watts failed to
identify Beamon or any other case standing for the
proposition that the Fourth Amendment does not apply where
force is used but a seizure is not effectuated.
Compare Docket No. 697 with Docket No. 809
at 2-3. As noted, it is generally inappropriate to reconsider
a previous ruling when the grounds for the motion to
reconsider were available at the time of the original motion.
it is appropriate to reconsider an order where the prior
ruling was clearly in error. Mr. Watts' summary judgment
motion did not cite Beamon and the Court's order
did not differentiate between the Fourth and Fourteenth
Amendments in addressing plaintiff's excessive force
claims. As a result, the Court will reconsider its prior
ruling in light of Beamon to determine whether the
Court clearly erred in denying summary judgment.
noted in the Court's prior order [Docket 804 at 3-5],
summary judgment is warranted under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 56 when the “movant shows that there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(a); see Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 248-50 (1986). A disputed fact is “material”
if under the relevant substantive law it is essential to
proper disposition of the claim. Wright v. Abbott Labs.,
Inc., 259 F.3d 1226, 1231-32 (10th Cir. 2001).
Court must “accept as true all material facts asserted
and properly supported in the summary judgment motion”
and grant summary judgment if, based on those facts, the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Reed v. Bennett, 312 F.3d 1190, 1195 (10th Cir.
to Mr. Watts' statement of undisputed facts, on or about
August 24, 2010, Mr. Watts pursued plaintiff after observing
plaintiff violate a no-contact order. Docket No. 697 at 2-3,
¶¶ 3, 5-9. While attempting to evade Mr. Watts,
plaintiff crashed his bicycle. Id. at 3,
¶¶ 11-12. In his summary judgment motion, Mr. Watts
concedes that there is a dispute of fact between him and the
plaintiff regarding the cause of plaintiff's crash. Mr.
Watts claims “Plaintiff simply crashed his bicycle, got
up, back on and continued to flee apprehension. Plaintiff
claims Mr. Watts hit him with his vehicle, knocking Plaintiff
off the bicycle, onto the hood of the vehicle and then to the
ground.” Docket No. 697 at 8. Thus, although plaintiff
did not respond to the summary judgment motion, the Court
will assume that the circumstances of the bicycle crash are
in dispute. The Court finds that plaintiff was able to
successfully flee the scene after falling to the ground and
did not receive any treatment for injuries arising from his
fall from the bicycle. Id. at 3, ¶¶ 13-14.
Watts argues that, according to Beamon and the
authorities cited therein, his alleged violations of the
Fourth Amendment were not clearly established law and
therefore he is entitled to qualified immunity. The plaintiff
bears the burden of rebutting the presumption of qualified
immunity and must demonstrate that (1) the defendant's
conduct violated the law; and (2) the law was clearly