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Rohr v. Crime Victims Compensation Commission

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

December 10, 2019

CLAUDIA ROHR, Plaintiff,
v.
CRIME VICTIMS COMPENSATION COMMISSION, OF THE STATE OF HAWAI'I; Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT

          Leslie E. Kobayashi District Judge.

         On July 22, 2019, the Court issued the Order: 1) Granting Defendant's Second Motion for Summary Judgment; and 2) Denying Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (“7/22/19 Order”). [Dkt. no. 150.] On August 19, 2019, pro se Plaintiff Claudia Rohr (“Plaintiff”) filed a motion for reconsideration of the 7/22/19 Order, which was denied in an entering order issued on August 27, 2019 (“8/27/19 EO”). [Dkt. nos. 152.] Also on August 27, the Judgment in a Civil Case (“Judgment”) was entered, pursuant to the 7/22/19 Order and the 8/27/19 EO.

         Before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Relief from Judgment (“Motion”), filed on September 24, 2019. [Dkt. no. 154.] Defendant Crime Victims Compensation Commission of the State of Hawai`i (“Defendant” or “Commission”) filed its memorandum in opposition on October 8, 2019, and Plaintiff filed her reply on October 22, 2019. [Dkt. nos. 156, 157.] On November 5, 2019, Plaintiff filed a document that is titled as a motion, but, for the reasons set forth below, is construed as a supplemental memorandum in support of the Motion. [Dkt. no. 158.] The Court has considered the Motion as a non-hearing matter pursuant to Rule LR7.1(d) of the Local Rules of Practice for the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii (“Local Rules”). Plaintiff's Motion is hereby denied for the reasons set forth below.

         BACKGROUND

         The relevant factual and procedural history of this case is set forth in the 7/22/19 Order, and only the portions that are relevant to the instant Motion will be repeated here. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, [filed 6/6/16 (dkt. no. 14), ] alleged a single claim - violation of Title II, Part A of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”), as amended by the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008 (“ADAAA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-34, and its implementing regulations, 28 C.F.R. Part 35 (“Title II Claim”). Plaintiff brought her claim as the sole beneficiary on behalf of her deceased husband, Scott Leland Andrews (“Andrews”). [7/22/19 Order at 2-3 & n.2.]

         Plaintiff's Title II Claim arises from two applications for benefits that Andrews submitted to the Commission, one related to an April 21, 2008 assault, and one related to a December 12, 2008 assault. In Case Number 09-0857, the Commission denied the April 21 application as untimely (“Case 857”), and, in Case Number 09-0858, the Commission voted to pay Andrews's medical bills that were submitted with the December 12 application (“Case 858”). Andrews appealed both of the Commission's decisions through the state courts, but the appeals were ultimately unsuccessful. [Id. at 4-6.] While Andrews's appeals were pending, Plaintiff wrote letters to the Commission, arguing that, in both application processes and cases, the Commission discriminated against Andrews based on his disability. Plaintiff requested accommodations and/or modifications to the Commission's procedures, including the reopening of Andrews's cases. The Commission declined to act upon the letters, responding that the issues Plaintiff identified were previously considered by the Commission and the state courts. [Id. at 6-8.]

         In the instant case, Plaintiff argued the Commission discriminated against Andrews based on his disability when it denied the application in Case 857 and when it reduced the benefits that it initially approved in Case 858. [Id. at 8-9.] In the 7/22/19 Order, this Court ruled that, applying either the ADA's two-year statute of limitations or the ADAAA's four-year statute of limitations, the portion of the Title II Claim based on the Commission's denial in Case 857 was timed-barred.[1] [Id. at 20.] This Court also ruled that the portion of the Title II Claim arising from Case 858 accrued as of August 5, 2011. [Id. at 26.] Plaintiff's equitable tolling and continuing violation arguments were rejected as to both cases, and summary judgment was granted in favor of Defendant on the ground that Plaintiff's Title II Claim was time-barred. [Id. at 28-30.] Even if Plaintiff's Title II Claim was timely, summary judgment still would have been granted in favor of Defendant because of a lack of subject matter jurisdiction, pursuant to the Rooker-Feldman doctrine.[2] [Id. at 30-34.]

         In the instant Motion, Plaintiff seeks relief from the Judgment because of the following alleged errors in the 7/22/19 Order: 1) the Court erred in basing its time-bar analysis on Andrews's August 5, 2011 appeal of the Commission's decision and order in Case 857 (“Case 857 Decision”) because the decision was not part of the summary judgment record in this case; 2) the Court ignored Plaintiff's evidence of bias on behalf of the Commission's investigator in Case 858; 3) the Court erred in ruling that Plaintiff's claims were time-barred because the six-year statute of limitations applied because of fraudulent concealment, pursuant to Haw. Rev. Stat. § 657-20; and 4) the Rooker-Feldman doctrine did not apply in this case because Plaintiff did not seek to undo any state court judgment.

         STANDARD

         Plaintiff brings the instant Motion pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(1), which states: “On motion and just terms, the court may relieve a party or its legal representative from a final judgment, order, or proceeding for the following reasons: (1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect[.]” This district court has recognized that “[r]econsideration pursuant to Rule 60 is generally appropriate upon a showing of one of three grounds: (1) the availability of new evidence; (2) an intervening change in controlling law; and (3) the need to correct clear error or prevent manifest injustice.” Ferretti v. Beach Club Maui, Inc., Civ. No. 18-00012 JMS-RLP, 2018 WL 3672741, at *1 (D. Hawai`i Aug. 2, 2018) (citing Sch. Dist. No. 1J, Multnomah Cty. v. ACandS, Inc., 5 F.3d 1255, 1263 (9th Cir. 1993)). The Motion does not identify any newly available evidence nor any intervening changes in the law. Therefore, the only issues before this Court are whether there was clear error in the 7/22/19 Order and whether the 7/22/19 Order was manifestly unjust.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Plaintiff's Second Motion for Relief from Judgment

         On November 5, 2019, Plaintiff filed a document titled “Second Motion for Relief from Judgment.” [Dkt. no. 158.] On November 8, 2019, an entering order was issued, stating the merits of that motion would not be considered until after the instant Motion was resolved. [Dkt. no. 159.] However, upon further review, the Court finds that Plaintiff's November 5 filing is not a motion for separate relief, but a supplemental memorandum in support of the instant Motion. Plaintiff's November 5 filing also addresses the statute of limitations issues that are addressed in the instant Motion. The Court finds that it is unnecessary for Defendant to file a response to the supplemental memorandum.

         The Clerk's Office is HEREBY DIRECTED to revise the docket entry for Plaintiff's November 5 filing to reflect that it is not a motion, but a ...


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