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Campbell v. Baylard, Billington, Dempsey & Jensen, P.C.

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

July 10, 2018

DAVE CAMPBELL, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
BAYLARD, BILLINGTON, DEMPSEY & JENSEN, P.C., et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          JOHN A. ROSS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on a number of pending motions filed by Plaintiffs, which the Court will address in this Order.

         Motion to Disqualify Judge

         Plaintiffs again seek to disqualify the undersigned for cause (Doc. No. 246). They have submitted an affidavit in support of their motion setting forth the following grievances with the undersigned: (1) allowing Defendants to engage in limited discovery following Plaintiffs' notice to the Court that a representative of Defendant Woodland Lakes Trusteeship, Inc. improperly contacted them; (2) advising Plaintiffs that they must file any motion for sanctions with the Court; (3) failing to admonish Defendants' purported violations of the Federal Rules; (4) acknowledging that Plaintiffs' amended complaint "may well be futile";[1] (5) denying Plaintiffs' motion to waive PACER fees; and (6) setting Plaintiffs' motion to stay for a hearing, among other grievances.

         Recusal is required when an average person knowing all the relevant facts of a case might reasonably question a judge's impartiality. Dossett v. First State Bank, 399 F.3d 940, 952-53 (8th Cir.2005); Moran v. Clarke, 296 F.3d 638, 648 (8th Cir. 2002). "Adverse judicial rulings, however, 'almost never' constitute a valid basis for recusal; the proper recourse for a dissatisfied litigant is appeal." Dossett, 399 F.3d at 953 (quoting Liteky v. United States, 510 U.S. 540, 555, (1994)).

         In order for Plaintiffs to meet their burden of proof for recusal, they must submit an affidavit setting forth specific and sufficient facts to convince a reasonable mind of the judge's personal bias and prejudice. 28 U.S.C. § 144; Deal v. Warner, 369 F.Supp. 174 (W.D. Mo. 1973). When, as here, such an affidavit is presented, the factual allegations of the affidavit are accepted as true for the purpose of determining whether disqualification is legally warranted. Orr v. Missouri, No. 2:10-CV-04019-NKL, 2010 WL 2216471, at *1 (W.D. Mo. May 28, 2010). If the allegations, accepted as true, state sufficient grounds for recusal, the motion must be granted. Id. If the allegations of the affidavit do not state legally sufficient grounds, the judge is duty-bound not to recuse. United States v. Anderson, 433 F.2d 856, 860 (8th Cir. 1970).

         Here, the allegations contained in Plaintiffs' affidavit are legally insufficient to warrant recusal because they do not reflect the statutorily-required personal bias. Rather, it appears that Plaintiffs disagree with any rulings not in their favor, which almost never warrants recusal. Dossett, 399 F.3d at 953. The motion to disqualify will be denied.

         Motion for Reconsideration

         Plaintiffs also filed a motion for leave to file a motion for reconsideration of this Court's May 17, 2018 Order (Doc. No. 248) pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e), which the Court will simply construe as a motion for reconsideration.[2] That order permitted Defendants to engage in limited discovery following Plaintiffs' prompt notice to the Court that John Kimack, a representative of Defendant Woodland Lakes Trusteeship, Inc., improperly contacted them.

         The Federal Rules do not specifically provide for motions for reconsideration, although they are frequently filed. A motion for reconsideration is typically construed either as a Rule 59(e) motion to alter or amend a judgment or a Rule 60(b) motion for relief from a judgment. Auto Services Co. v. KPMG, L.L.P., 537 F .3d 853, 855 (8th Cir. 2008). However, both Rule 59(e) and Rule 60(b) require that any judgment or order being reconsidered be a final judgment or order. Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e), 60(b); HM Compounding Servs., LLC v. Express Scripts, Inc., No. 4:14-CV-1858 JAR, 2017 WL 2118012, at *1 (E.D. Mo. May 16, 2017); 11 Charles Alan Wright, Arthur R. Miller, and Mary Kay Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2852 (2nd ed. 1995).

         Here, Plaintiffs seek reconsideration of an interlocutory, or non-final, order. While the Court has even greater discretion to grant a motion to reconsider an interlocutory order, it also has an interest in judicial economy and ensuring respect for the finality of its decisions, values which would be undermined if it were to routinely reconsider its interlocutory orders. HM Compounding Servs., LLC, 2017 WL 2118012, at *1. Accordingly, the Court may reconsider an interlocutory order only if the moving party demonstrates (1) that it did not have a fair opportunity to argue the matter previously, and (2) that granting the motion is necessary to correct a significant error. Id.; see also Trickey v. Kaman Indus. Techs. Corp., No. 1:09-CV-00026-SNLJ, 2011 WL 2118578, at *2 (E.D. Mo. May 26, 2011).

         In their motion, Plaintiffs argue that Defendants' motion for discovery was invasive, premature, and based on altered documents. This does not satisfy the standard required for them to prevail on a motion for reconsideration of an interlocutory order, since Plaintiffs had a fair opportunity to argue the matter previously, and no significant error has occurred. Plaintiffs have failed to present any evidence that the requests were made to harass them, invade their privacy, or gather unfair information. Thus, the order allowing limited discovery will enable the parties to determine if improper contact was made and ensure that such contact does not occur in the future. The motion for reconsideration will be denied.

Motion for Limited Discovery

         Plaintiffs filed a motion to allow limited discovery (Doc. No. 249) and a motion for leave to file an additional memorandum in support that motion (Doc. No. 255). The Court considered the additional memorandum in ...


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