United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Central Division
NANETTE K. LAUGHREY United States District Judge.
Marshall Lawrence Peterson asks the Court to reconsider its
Order dismissing Count I of his amended complaint. Doc. 79.
The motion is denied.
of the amended complaint, Doc. 54, is against 31 persons who
own or owned plots of land in the same subdivision as
Peterson, and concerns a judgment entered by the Circuit
Court of Camden County, Missouri in 1995. The Camden County
Circuit Court held that the plaintiffs in that case had
demonstrated adverse possession and granted their petition to
quiet title. In the case before this Court, Peterson requests
a declaratory judgment under Count I, finding that the 1995
state court judgment “is null and void” because
neither he nor other necessary, indispensable parties were
made part of the state court lawsuit or given notice; the
state court lacked subject matter jurisdiction; and neither
statutory nor common law requirements relating to adverse
possession were established. Id., p. 11.
of the Defendants filed motions to dismiss Count I, arguing
that there was a pending, parallel proceeding filed in the
Camden County Circuit Court in 2015, involving the same
parties and issues as the case before this Court. Docs. 58,
63, 64, and 66. Specifically, Peterson filed a lawsuit in
Camden County Circuit Court in 2015 against the same 31
Defendants whom he is suing in Count I of his amended
complaint before this Court. See Peterson v. Madson, et
al., no. 15CM-CC00251, Cir. Ct. Camden County, Missouri.
Doc. 58-1 and 58-44. His allegations in the state court
petition are the same as those in his amended complaint
before this Court. Several of the defendants in the 2015
state-court case also filed counterclaims against Peterson,
including a counterclaim that was the mirror image of
Peterson's state court petition. Specifically, the
defendants (or counterclaim plaintiffs) set out
Peterson's allegations, then their own allegations that
the 1995 state-court judgment was valid pursuant to the terms
of the subdivision plat, and then asked the state court to
declare that the 1995 state-court judgment was valid. Doc.
58-3, pp. 8-10 (Second Amended Counterclaim, Count I).
voluntarily dismissed his petition in the 2015 Camden County
case on 6/14/2016, stating that he would refile in the near
future. Doc. 58-2. However, the defendants, or counterclaim
plaintiffs therein, continued to pursue their counterclaims
and on 5/25/017, the Camden County Circuit Court granted
their motion for summary judgment, holding that the 1995
state-court judgment “is valid and enforceable”
and denying Peterson's motion for summary judgment on the
counterclaim. Doc. 58-4, p. 1. The state court subsequently
entered an “Interlocutory Judgment” on 7/14/2017,
which provided in relevant part:
[T]he judgment dated October 10, 1995, entered in Camden
County Case No. CV195-522CC is not void, but rather is valid,
binding, and enforceable against Peterson …; the law
prevents Peterson … from directly or collaterally
attacking said judgment; there is no basis for Peterson
… to set aside, amend, modify or change said judgment;
and Peterson … [is] barred from bringing further
actions to challenge the validity, enforceability, or binding
effect of said judgment[.]
Doc. 81-1, pp. 2-3.
Court concluded that the proceedings before it and before the
Camden County Circuit Court are parallel, and that requiring
the parties to proceed in both courts would be uneconomical
and vexatious, and would serve no useful purpose, and that
abstention was therefore appropriate with respect to Count I
of the amended complaint. This Court further held that
dismissal, rather than a stay, was the most appropriate
course of action because the scope of the state court action
was broad enough to resolve all disputes between the parties
and there was no apparent reason why this action would return
to federal court. The Court dismissed Count I in its entirety
and with respect to all Defendants against whom it was
brought. Doc. 77.
Peterson's premature notice of appeal does not divest
this Court of jurisdiction to dispose of the motion to
Court first addresses a preliminary matter. Peterson filed
his motion to reconsider eight days after entry of the order
dismissing Count I, and four weeks later filed a notice of
appeal to the Eighth Circuit. The dismissal order adjudicated
fewer than all claims in the action. Such an order may not be
appealed, subject to the exceptions set forth in 28 U.S.C.
§ 1292, Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b), and the collateral order
doctrine. Leonard v. Dorsey & Whitney LLP, 553
F.3d 609, 635 (8th Cir. 2009). The dismissal order
does not fall under § 1292 (requests for injunctive
relief, certified questions, etc.), nor was a judgment
entered, Rule 54(b). Assuming that it is an immediately
appealable, collateral order, however, the notice of appeal
would not divest this Court of jurisdiction because a notice
of appeal is not effective until such a motion is ruled.
See Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(4)(B)(i), and MIF
Realty L.P. v. Rochester Assocs., 92 F.3d 752, 755
(8th Cir. 1996) (a motion to reconsider tolls the
time for filing a notice of appeal, and a notice of appeal
filed prior to disposition of such a motion does not divest
the trial court of jurisdiction to rule on it). Therefore,
the Court will proceed to rule on the motion.
Peterson demonstrates no basis for reconsideration.
a district court has broad discretion in determining whether
to grant a motion to reconsider. In re Levaquin Products
Liab. Litig., 739 F.3d 401, 404 (8th Cir.
2014). However, such a motion “serve[s] a limited
function: to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to
present newly discovered evidence.” Arnold v. Sec.
Servs., Inc., 627 F.3d 716, 721 (8th Cir.
2010). It “is not a vehicle for simple reargument on
the merits.” Broadway v. Norris, 193 F.3d 987,