United States District Court, W.D. Texas, San Antonio Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION: GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN
PART THE PLAINTIFFS MOTION TO ALTER OR AMEND
HONORABLE ROYCE LAMBERTH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Court has before it "Plaintiffs Amended Motion
Under FRCP 59 to Alter or Amend the Judgment." (ECF
#89). In that motion, the plaintiff seeks to amend the
Court's prior judgment in this case (ECF ##86, 87) to add
awards for costs other than attorney's fees, pre- and
post-judgment interest, and damages for past mental anguish,
none of which the plaintiff received in the initial judgment.
The defendant opposes the motion in its entirety.
defendant argues that the plaintiff waived his right to costs
and to pre- and post-judgment interest by failing to ask for
them in the final pretrial order. But the Court finds that
this failure does not preclude the plaintiff from recovering
costs and pre- and post-judgment interest because these are
awarded as a matter of right to prevailing parties under the
applicable statutes and rules. Therefore, the Court will
GRANT the plaintiffs motion for costs and pre- and
defendant argues that the plaintiff should not receive
damages for past mental anguish because he cannot meet his
burden under Rule 59(e) of showing (1) that the Court made a
manifest error of law in its initial judgment, (2) that there
is newly discovered evidence to consider, or (3) that there
has been an intervening change in the controlling law of
which the Court must take account. The Court agrees. The
plaintiff presents no new law or evidence for the Court to
consider and has not identified a clear error of law in need
of correction. Therefore, the Court will DENY the plaintiffs
motion for damages for past mental anguish.
an inmate at the Central Texas Detention Facility, the
plaintiff, Raymond Tellez, was attacked by two fellow
inmates. The attacking inmates stabbed Mr. Tellez several
times with a shank, causing puncture wounds to Mr.
Tellez's right chest, right armpit, right rib cage, right
front leg, right rear leg, and right lumbar. In addition to
the stab wounds, Mr. Tellez also suffered assorted cuts,
scrapes, and bruises on various portions of his body. Mr.
Tellez received treatment for his injuries at a local
hospital, where the physicians cleaned his wounds, closed
three of them with staples, and prescribed five days'
worth of pain medication.
Central Texas Detention Facility is operated by the GEO Group
("GEO"). Mr. Tellez sued GEO for negligence,
alleging that GEO negligently implemented (or failed to
implement) its own security policies and procedures. For
damages, Mr. Tellez sought $75, 000 for past physical pain;
$50, 000 for future physical pain; $100, 000 for past mental
anguish; $50, 000 for future mental anguish; $50, 000 for
past physical impairment; $50, 000 for future physical
impairment; $50, 000 for past disfigurement; and $50, 000 for
future disfigurement. In total, then, Mr. Tellez requested
$475, 000 in damages.
run up to trial (and in some cases after trial), Mr. Tellez
filed several documents that would, under Local Rule CV-16,
normally be consolidated into a single proposed pretrial
order. These documents included, at a minimum, several
proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law (ECF ##67,
74, 75, 79) and multiple witness/exhibit lists (ECF ##68,
73). In none of these documents did Mr. Tellez request costs,
pre-judgment interest, or post-judgment interest.
end, following a bench trial held on January 4, 2017, the
Court ruled in favor of Mr. Tellez. But while the Court found
that GEO was negligent in its implementation of its security
procedures and protocols, the Court only awarded to Mr.
Tellez $25, 000 in damages-$15, 000 for past physical pain;
$5, 000 for future physical pain; and $5, 000 for past
disfigurement. (ECF #86). The Court denied all other requests
Tellez now seeks to amend portions of this judgment. (ECF
#89). First, he asks to be awarded costs (excluding
attorney's fees) and pre-and post-judgment interest.
Second, he asks that the Court reconsider its denial of
damages for past mental anguish.
New Trials Under Rule 59(a)
trial held in this case was a bench trial. Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 59(a)(1)(B) sets forth the standard for when
a new trial may be ordered in a bench trial. It says that a
"court may, on motion, grant a new trial on all or some
of the issues . . . after a nonjury trial, for any reason for
which a hearing has heretofore been granted in a suit in
equity in federal court." (Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(a)(1)(B)).
Under this standard, courts do not grant new trials unless it
is reasonably clear that a prejudicial error has occurred or
that substantial justice has not been done and cannot be done
without a new trial on the relevant issues. (Sibley v.
Lemaire, 184 F.3d 481, 487 (5th Cir. 1999)). This
analysis often resembles an analysis to alter or amend a
judgment in that courts frequently look to see whether there
has been a manifest error of law or mistake of fact that
justifies setting aside the results of the earlier trial.
(E.g., Thomas v. Concerned Care Home Health, Inc.,
2016 WL 930943, at *1 (E.D. La. March 11, 2016)).
Altering/Amending Judgment Under Rule 59(e)
may seek to amend or alter a judgment under Rule 59(e). Rule
59(e) says that a "motion to alter or amend a judgment
must be filed no later than 28 days after the entry of the
judgment." (Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e)). The Fifth Circuit
has emphasized that "[r]econsideration of a judgment
after its entry is an extraordinary remedy that should be
used sparingly." (Templet v.HydroChem
Inc.,367 F.3d 473, 479 (5th Cir. 2004) (citing
Clancy v. Emps. Health Ins. Co.,101 F.Supp.2d 463,
465 (E.D. La. 2000)); see also 11 Charles A. Wright,
Arthur R. Miller & Mary Kay Kane, Fed. Prac. & Proc.
§ 2810.1, at 124 (2d ed. 1995)). The purpose of a motion
to alter or amend a judgment is not to "evidence, legal
theories, or arguments that could have been offered or raised
before the entry of judgment." (Templet, 367
F.3d at 479 (citing Simon v. UnitedStates,891 F.2d 1154, 1159 (5th Cir. 1990))). Rather, its purpose is
to "allow a party to correct manifest errors of law or
fact [in the judgment] or to present newly discovered
evidence." (Id. (quoting Waltman v.
Int'l Paper Co.,875 F.2d 468, 473 (5th Cir. 1989)
(internal quotations omitted))). On these lines, Fifth
Circuit law provides that a judgment may be amended or