United States District Court, D. Hawaii
THAD J. THOMPSON, Plaintiff,
J. AFAMASAGA, STATE OF HAWAII, Defendants.
ORDER (1) DENYING MOTION TO ALTER OR AMEND JUDGMENT,
ECF NO. 150; AND (2) DENYING MOTION FOR A NEW TRIAL, ECF NO.
MICHAEL SEABRIGHT, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
prisoner civil rights action, Plaintiff Thad J. Thompson
(“Plaintiff”), who was a pretrial inmate at Oahu
Community Correctional Center claimed that Defendant Adult
Correction Officer (“ACO”) J. Afamasaga
(“Defendant” or “Afamasaga”) used
excessive force against Plaintiff in violation of the United
States Constitution. During a strip-search, Defendant
discovered an item concealed between Plaintiff's
buttocks. A physical altercation followed, during which
Plaintiff was injured. On May 29, a two-day non-jury trial
commenced on Plaintiff's claim against Afamasaga. In its
June 26, 2018 Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law
(“FOFCOL”), the court found that Plaintiff failed
to show by a preponderance of the credible evidence that the
force Defendant purposely or knowingly used against Plaintiff
was objectively unreasonable. ECF No. 148 at PageID #543-44.
That is, the court found that Plaintiff failed to prove that
Defendant used constitutionally excessive force against
Plaintiff. Id. at PageID #544. On June 26, 2018,
Judgment was entered in favor of Defendant and against
Plaintiff. ECF No. 149.
18, 2018, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se,  filed two
separate motions - a Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment, ECF
No. 150, and a Motion for a New Trial, ECF No. 151. On
October 9, 2018, Defendant filed an Opposition. ECF No. 167.
Despite having obtained numerous extensions of time,
see ECF Nos. 169, 171, 174, Plaintiff did not file a
Reply. Pursuant to Local Rule 7.2(d), the court finds this
matter suitable for disposition without a hearing.
reasons discussed below, Plaintiff's Motions are DENIED.
STANDARDS OF REVIEW
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59, a district court may
reconsider final judgments and order a new trial or alter or
amend a judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(a), (e). Under Rule
59(a)(1)(B), a court may grant a new trial “after a
nonjury trial, for any reason for which a rehearing has
heretofore been granted in a suit in equity in federal
court.” There are three grounds for granting new trials
in court-tried actions: “(1) manifest error of law; (2)
manifest error of fact; and (3) newly discovered
evidence.” Brown v. Wright, 588 F.2d 708, 710
(9th Cir. 1978) (per curiam) (citing 6A Moore's
Federal Practice § 59.07 at 59-94). And the Ninth
Circuit has identified four non-exclusive reasons to grant a
motion to alter or amend a judgment under Rule 59(e):
“(1) if such motion is necessary to correct manifest
errors of law or fact upon which the judgment rests; (2) if
such motion is necessary to present newly discovered or
previously unavailable evidence; (3) if such motion is
necessary to prevent manifest injustice; or (4) if the
amendment is justified by an intervening change in
controlling law.” Allstate Ins. Co. v. Herron,
634 F.3d 1101, 1111 (9th Cir. 2011) (citation omitted).
disagreement with a previous ruling is not a sufficient basis
for reconsideration. McAllister v. Adecco Grp. N.A.,
2018 WL 6682984, at *2 (D. Haw. Dec. 19, 2018) (citing
White v. Sabatino, 424 F.Supp.2d 1271, 1274 (D. Haw.
2006). Thus, a Rule 59 motion for new trial or to alter or
amend judgment “may not be used to relitigate old
matters, or to raise arguments or present evidence that could
have been raised prior to the entry of judgment.”
Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker, 554 U.S. 471, 486 n.5
(2008) (citation and quotation marks omitted). And although a
“district court has considerable discretion when
considering a [Rule 59] motion[, ]” Turner v.
Burlington N. Santa Fe R.R. Co., 338 F.3d 1058, 1063
(9th Cir. 2003), vacating or “amending a judgment after
its entry remains an extraordinary remedy which should be
used sparingly, ” Allstate Ins. Co., 634 F.3d
at 1111 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
contends that the court erred and/or engaged in judicial
misconduct by (1) denying his motion in limine to introduce
“character evidence (i.e., prior bad acts) of
Defendant”; (2) intimidating Plaintiff's counsel;
(3) calling a recess during defense counsel's cross
examination of Plaintiff, thereby preventing Plaintiff from
providing further testimony; (4) allowing defense counsel to
“test” Plaintiff's memory capabilities; and
(5) exhibiting bias by making credibility determinations,
factual findings, and legal conclusions in favor of Defendant
and against Plaintiff that were “obviously against the
weight of the evidence.” ECF No. 150 at PageID #558-59;
ECF No. 151 at PageID #565-73.
large part, Plaintiff simply disagrees with the court's
rulings, including credibility determinations, which is not a
sufficient basis for reconsideration under Rule 59. Plaintiff
does not contend that there is newly discovered evidence that
was previously unavailable or that reconsideration is sought
based on any intervening change in controlling law. For the
reasons discussed below, Plaintiff has failed to establish
that the judgment is based on manifest errors of law or fact
and/or that reconsideration is necessary to prevent manifest
Motion in Limine - Rule 404
argues that the court erred by denying his motion in limine
to include character evidence of Defendant (prior bad acts by
Defendant against other inmates). ECF No. 151 at PageID #565.
But Plaintiff did not file such a motion in limine. Rather,
Defendant filed a motion in limine to exclude character
evidence under Federal Rule of Evidence 404(a) and (b). ECF
motion in limine to exclude character evidence became
somewhat convoluted. In response to that motion, Plaintiff
proffered that Defendant and ACO Danny Patelesio
(“Patelesio”) “have a routine practice and
habit of beating inmates.” ECF No. 117 at PageID #424.
Thus, Plaintiff sought admission of ...