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Snelling v. City of St. Louis

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

December 9, 2019

LONNIE D. SNELLING Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          RODNEY W. SIPPEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before me on the Plaintiff Lonnie Snelling's Motion to Alter or Amend the Judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e). For the reasons set forth below, I will deny the Plaintiff's motion.

         BACKGROUND

         On June 7, 2019, Snelling filed a complaint alleging violations of his civil rights under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, and 1986. Additionally, his compliant included a number of state law claims. In total, the complaint contained twenty-two claims against thirteen defendants. All of the claims stem from Snelling's real estate and property holdings in the City of St. Louis. Three motions to dismiss were filed for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) and failure to comply with Fed.R.Civ.P. 8. Service to the remaining defendants was stayed pending the outcome of the City's motion to dismiss.

         On October 24, 2019, I entered an order dismissing Snelling's federal claims and declining to exercise jurisdiction over his state law claims. Snelling then filed a motion to alter or amend the judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e).

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e), a court may alter or amend a judgment. The Rule serves the “limited function of correcting manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence.” Innovative Home Health Care, Inc. v. P.T.-O.T. Assocs. of the Black Hills, 141 F.3d 1284, 1286 (8th Cir. 1998) (internal quotations and citations omitted). “A ‘manifest error' is not demonstrated by the disappointment of the losing party. It is the ‘wholesale disregard, misapplication, or failure to recognize controlling precedent.'” Oto v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 224 F.3d 601, 606 (7th Cir. 2000) (internal citations omitted).

         DISCUSSION

         Although, Snelling raises a number of issues in his Rule 59(e) motion, as I explain below, he has not demonstrated a manifest error of law or fact. He does not raise any issues that have not already been considered or show a “wholesale disregard, misapplication, or failure to recognize controlling precedent.” Instead Snelling relitigates issues already addressed in my previous order. A motion to alter or amend a judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) is not the appropriate vehicle for this type of challenge.

         I. 42 U.S.C. § 1983 - FAILURE TO PROTECT CLAIM

         Snelling first argues the I incorrectly analyzed his claim for failure to protect his property. He appears to make two separate arguments. His first argument is that I incorrectly relied on case law that pertains to states rather than municipalities. His second argument is that I incorrectly held that the city was not liable.

         Snelling's first argument must fail. Although I cited cases and quoted language that refer to states rather than municipalities, they were used to define the scope of the Due Process Clause, not the scope of municipal liability. The scope of the Due Process Clause does not change based on the actor, so relying on this case law is not inappropriate. Additionally, although the language I cite from the cases referred to states' obligations under the Due Process Clause, the parties were actually municipalities or municipal agencies. See ECF No. [48] at 10-12.

         Snelling's second argument must also fail. Rule 59(e) motions serve the limited purpose of correcting manifest errors of law. Innovative Home Health Care, 141 F.3d at 1286. Snelling's general challenge to my decision is not sufficient to establish manifest error. Accordingly, Snelling's Rule 59(e) motion, as it pertains to his failure to protect claim, must be denied.

         II. 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 - ...


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