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Adame v. Refugio County

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Corpus Christi Division

April 24, 2018




         Before the Court is Plaintiff Ricardo Adame's Motion for Relief from Final Judgment and Order (D.E. 49), seeking relief under Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b). Plaintiff claims that his former supervisor, Refugio County Sheriff Robert Bolcik, made a statement to a former co-worker, Timothy Lee Dickey, which substantiates his racial discrimination claim.[1] Plaintiff did not discover this statement, which was allegedly made prior to his filing this action, until after this Court issued judgment in this case. On December 11, 2017, United States Magistrate Judge Jason B. Libby issued a Memorandum and Recommendation (M&R) recommending that the Court deny Plaintiff's motion. D.E. 51. Plaintiff timely objected. D.E. 52.

         Plaintiff was informed in a Notice to Parties following the substance of the M&R that it was subject to adoption by this Court absent objections to the recommendations. D.E. 51, p. 11. Rule 72(b) requires that objections be specific. See SciCo Tec GmbH v. Boston Scientific Corp., 599 F.Supp.2d 741, 743 (E.D. Tex. 2009) (nonspecific, conclusory objections “are no better than a complete failure to object”). It would defeat the judicial efficiency purposes of Magistrate Judge review to require a de novo reconsideration of the entirety of an M&R without specific complaints.

         Plaintiff's objections largely take the form of general discussions of the law (regarding the standards of review both on summary judgment and under Rule 60) and the facts (regarding both the merits and the discovery of the statement made to Dickey). He further requests to incorporate by reference material set out in prior filings. However, such briefing does not advise the Court of any particular error in the Magistrate Judge's analysis.

         Plaintiff's general briefing fails to satisfy the specific-objection requirement of Rule 72(b). Even though the briefing may contain hints of objections, it is not for the Court to sift through and formulate those objections for Plaintiff. Malacara v. Garber, 353 F.3d 393, 405 (5th Cir. 2003). Except as addressed below, the Court will therefore disregard any briefing not directed to a specific objection.

         The Court's review of Plaintiff's filing reveals only two explicitly stated objections:

1. General Objection: The M&R's “Factual and Procedural Background” describes the case under the wrong standard, failing to draw inferences in favor of Plaintiff and giving insufficient weight to evidence of pretext; and
2. Rule 60(c) Objection: The M&R errs in treating August 18, 2017, as the date on which Plaintiff's counsel became aware of the newly discovered evidence because counsel could not act on the evidence until Dickey agreed to sign his affidavit making the matter admissible.

         Plaintiff's intent to lodge a third objection clearly emerges from his filing, so the Court will also review the M&R's recommendation to deny relief on the grounds that Plaintiff did not meet the diligence requirement from Rule 60(b)(2). The Court deems waived any objections to the M&R's recommendation to deny relief under the remaining subsections of Rule 60(b).

         A. Objection to Factual and Procedural Background

         Plaintiff objects to the M&R's “Factual and Procedural Background” discussion “because it fails to properly consider plaintiff's evidence” and “fails to draw the inferences from the evidence in his favor.” See D.E. 52, p. 1. He also devotes much of his filing to recounting facts that were already in the record. Id. at 1-2, 7-8. Plaintiff's objection is misplaced, as he is not entitled to inferences in his favor under Rule 60(b), the authority under which he now must proceed.

         The burden of proof to satisfy the requirements of Rule 60(b) lies on Plaintiff as movant, and the matter is entrusted to the Court's discretion. United States v. Harrison Cty., Miss., 463 F.2d 1328, 1330 (5th Cir. 1972) (burden of proof on Rule 60(b) movant); Delgado v. Shell Oil Co., 231 F.3d 165, 182 (5th Cir. 2000) (Rule 60(b) standard of review is abuse of discretion). Nothing in the standard of review suggests that, on a Rule 60 motion, Plaintiff is entitled to any inferences in his favor.[2]

         Additionally, the factual recitation to which Plaintiff objects merely summarizes the procedural posture of the litigation and the Court's prior holdings. It does not relate to his claim of newly discovered evidence or the issue of due diligence and timeliness in having failed to discover the evidence and present his motion sooner. The Court finds no error with the M&R's discussion of the facts, nor is a Rule 60(b) motion “the proper vehicle for rehashing old arguments.” Frazier v. Map Oil Tools, Inc., 725 F.Supp.2d 597, 609 (S.D. Tex. 2010) (quoting Resolution Trust Corp. v. Holmes, 846 F.Supp. 1310, 1316 (S.D. Tex. 1994)) (internal quotation marks omitted). This objection is OVERRULED.

         B. Objection ...

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