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Turner v. Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

June 1, 2017

DR. WILLIAM M. TURNER, Plaintiff,
v.
MIDDLE RIO GRANDE CONSERVANCY DISTRICT; SUBASH SHAH, Former Executive Director of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District MRGCD and former Chief Engineer and former Chairman of the New Mexico Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors; DENNIS DOMRZALSKI, Former MRGCD Public Information Officer; JOHN DOES, Members or Former Members of the MRGCD; MARY SMITH, New Mexico Assistant Attorney General; JOHN DOES, Members or Former Members of the New Mexico Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors; EDUARD YTUARTE, Former Executive Director, New Mexico Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors; JOHN T. ROMERO, Former Chair of the Engineering Committee, New Mexico Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors; JOHN DOES, of KOB Channel 4 News of Albuquerque; and KOB-TV, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          ROBERT C. BRACK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Pro., Rules [sic] 59, filed on March 24, 2017 (Doc. 116). Jurisdiction arises under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1367.

         On February 24, 2017, the Court entered its Final Order in favor of Defendants and dismissed the case with prejudice. (Doc. 115.) The Court had previously granted Defendants' MRGCD, Shah, and Domrzalski's Motion to Dismiss (see Docs. 70, 114), Defendant Smith's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (see Docs. 73, 111), Defendant Romero's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (see Docs. 76, 112), and Defendant Ytuarte's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (see Docs. 78, 113).

         Dr. William Turner (Plaintiff) now moves the Court to reconsider these four opinions and argues that the Court overlooked and/or misconstrued controlling law and overlooked factual details as alleged in Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint. (See Doc. 116.) Having considered the submissions of counsel and relevant law, the Court will DENY the motion.

         I. Procedural and Factual Background

         On April 23, 2015, Plaintiff filed suit in this Court against a variety of Defendants. (Doc. 1.) Plaintiff's First Amended Verified Complaint alleges seven causes of action: (1) violations of his Due Process and Fifth Amendment rights against Defendants Shah, Domrzalski, Romero, and Ytuarte; (2) violations of his First Amendment rights by Defendants Shah, Domrzalski, John Does of MRGCD, and John Does of the Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors (BOL); (3) violations of his Equal Protection rights and discrimination by Defendants Shah, Domrzalski, and John Does of KOB Channel 4; (4) conspiracy to violate Plaintiff's First and Fourteenth Amendment (equal protection) rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3) by Defendants Shah, Domrzalski, Ytuarte, and John Does of BOL; (5) civil conspiracy by Defendants Shah, Domrzalski, Romero, Ytuarte, Smith, and John Does of MRGCD; (6) malicious prosecution/abuse of process by Defendants Shah, Domrzalski, John Does of the MRGCD, Ytuarte, Romero, John Does of the BOL, and Smith; and (7) claims pursuant to the New Mexico Tort Claims Act, defamation, and slander by Defendants Shah, Domrzalski, and John Doe of KOAT. (See Doc. 3.)

         The Court provided a summary of the pertinent facts in a light most favorable to Plaintiff in its original Memorandum Opinion and Orders and incorporates those facts herein. (See Docs. 111, at 1-4; 112, at 1-4; 113, at 1-4; 114, at 1-4.)

         II. Legal Standards

         A. Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment Standard

         A motion to alter or amend judgment pursuant to “rule 59(e) is an ‘inappropriate vehicle[] to reargue an issue previously addressed by the court when the motion merely advances new arguments, or supporting facts which were available at the time of the original motion.'” Jarita Mesa Livestock Grazing Ass'n v. U.S. Forest Serv., 58 F.Supp.3d 1191, 1218 (D.N.M. 2014) (quoting Servants of Paraclete v. Does, 204 F.3d 1005, 1012 (10th Cir. 2000)). “Grounds warranting a motion to reconsider include (1) an intervening change in the controlling law, (2) new evidence previously unavailable, and (3) the need to correct clear error or prevent manifest injustice.” Id. (quoting Servants of Paraclete, 204 F.3d at 1012 (internal citation omitted)). “Thus, a motion for reconsideration is appropriate where the court has misapprehended the facts, a party's position, or the controlling law.” Id. (quoting Servants of Paraclete, 204 F.3d at 1012 (internal citation omitted)). “A district court has considerable discretion in ruling on a motion to reconsider under rule 59(e).” Id. (citing Phelps v. Hamilton, 122 F.3d 1309, 1324 (10th Cir. 1997)).

         B. Motion to Dismiss Standard

         The Court uses the same standard to analyze both a motion to dismiss and a motion for judgment on the pleadings. Atl. Richfield Co. v. Farm Credit Bank of Wichita, 226 F.3d 1138, 1160 (10th Cir. 2000) (citation omitted). In order to withstand a motion to dismiss or a motion for judgment on the pleadings, the complaint “must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). The plaintiff must nudge his “claims across the line from conceivable to plausible . . . .” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. The plaintiff must plead “factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). The Court accepts as true all of the factual allegations in the complaint and construes those facts “in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” See Anderson v. Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith, Inc., 521 F.3d 1278, 1284 (10th Cir. 2008).

         III. Analysis

         Plaintiff alleges seven discrete points of error with the Court's opinions: (1) “[t]he [C]ourt overlooked the controlling uniform precedent(s) of the Tenth Circuit and other various other [sic] circuits on the accrual of 1983 malicious prosecution and conspiracy claims”; (2) “[f]or 1983 malicious prosecution, Plaintiff's ‘charge of violation' was a ‘criminal proceeding'”; (3) the “[C]ourt overlooked the policy or custom or practice identified by Plaintiff in his amended complaint and the Tenth Circuit's precedent in support”; (4) the “Court overlooked the factual details and/or discriminatory animus alleged by Plaintiff in his amended complaint”; (5) “[t]he Court Decision is in conflict with controlling precedent from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals”; (6) “Plaintiff has Sufficiently Pled Facts of a Policy or Custom of the MRGCD to Nudge His 42 U.S.C. 1983 Claims for Deprivation of His First Amendment Rights and Conspiracy to Deprive Him of His Constitutional Rights Across the Line for [sic] Conceivable to Plausible ...


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