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No Interlocutory Appeal from Denial of Motion for Reconsideration; $6,000 Settlement in New York Jail Abuse Case
Iesha Lora filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 suit alleging abuse and harassment while incarcerated at Rikers Island in New York. On January 21, 2009, the district court denied the defendants’ motion for summary judgment. According to the court, genuine issues of material fact regarding the defendants’ qualified immunity precluded summary judgment.
The defendants moved for reconsideration of the district court’s denial of qualified immunity. The motion was tardy, though, under Rule 59(e). The district court subsequently denied the defendants’ motion for reconsideration and the defendants took an interlocutory appeal.
By the time the defendants filed their notice of appeal, the time for appealing from the district court’s denial of summary judgment had expired. Consequently, the only timely appeal before the Second Circuit was the defendants’ appeal from the district court’s denial of their motion for reconsideration.
Because the defendants’ appeal was interlocutory in nature, the appellate court had to decide whether the appeal from the denial of the defendants’ motion for reconsideration fit within the collateral order doctrine. Under the collateral order doctrine, a party may take an interlocutory appeal only if the order being appealed (1) conclusively determines the disputed question, (2) resolves an important issue completely separate from the merits of an underlying action, and (3) would be effectively unreviewable from a final judgment.
In this case, the Second Circuit held that an interlocutory appeal from the denial of a motion for reconsideration, even if related to a denial of qualified immunity, does not fall within the collateral order doctrine. “Denial of reconsideration does not resolve an important issue, but merely resolves whether to revisit an important issue,” the appellate court wrote. As such, “the denial of defendants’ untimely Rule 59(e) motion [was] not an order that falls within the narrow collateral order exception to the finality rule.”
The defendants tried to argue that they could “back door” appeal the summary judgment denial because their appeal from the district court’s denial of reconsideration was timely, but the Second Circuit was having none of that. “We see no reason to bend Rule 4 in order to expand the availability of interlocutory appeals to parties who have failed to timely appeal from an appealable collateral order,” the Court of Appeals wrote.
The defendants’ appeal was accordingly dismissed for lack of jurisdiction and the case returned to the district court for further proceedings. See: Lora v. O’Heaney, 602 F.3d 106 (2d Cir. 2010).
Following the appellate ruling, the case settled in July 2010 with the defendants agreeing to pay Lora $6,000 for “any and all claims for relief,” including costs. See: Lora v. O’Heaney, U.S.D.C. (S.D. NY), Case No. 1:05-cv-02849-RMB-HBP.
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Related legal case
Lora v. O’Heaney
|Cite||U.S.D.C. (S.D. NY), Case No. 1:05-cv-02849-RMB-HBP|