United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
LORI WASHINGTON, ex rel. J.W., Plaintiffs,
KATY INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT and ELVIN PALEY, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND OPINION
ROSENTHAL CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
2016, an officer in the Katy Independent School
District's police department tasered and handcuffed J.W.,
a 17-year-old special-education student. His mother, Lori
Washington, sued the District and the School Resource Officer
who was involved, Elvin Paley, on J.W.'s behalf, for
violating his federally protected rights. (Docket Entry Nos.
1, 12). In June 2019, the court granted the defendants'
motion for summary judgment on the claims for violations of
the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation
Act, the Equal Protection Clause, and J.W.'s due-process
rights to bodily integrity. The court denied the motion for
summary judgment on the § 1983 claim against Officer
Paley. (Docket Entry No. 34).
Washington now moves for reconsideration of the court's
grant of summary judgment on the ADA and Rehabilitation Act
claims. (Docket Entry No. 39). The defendants responded, and
Ms. Washington replied. (Docket Entry Nos. 43, 49).
on the motion, response, and reply; the parties'
submissions; and the applicable law, the court denies Ms.
Washington's motion for reconsideration, analyzing both
administrative exhaustion and the merits of the § 504
and ADA claims. (Docket Entry No. 39). The reasons for this
ruling are detailed below.
relevant background is detailed in this court's June 2019
Memorandum and Opinion and only summarized here.
(See Docket Entry No. 34). Briefly, J.W. has
emotional and intellectual disabilities that required
special-educational services and accommodations while he was
a student at the Mayde Creek High School in 2016. (Docket
Entry No. 12 at ¶¶ 31-32). In November 2016, J.W.
became upset at school, tried to leave the school building to
walk himself home, and was tasered by Officer Paley when he
refused to remain in the building. (See Docket Entry
Nos. 28-10, 29-2; see also Docket Entry No. 28-6 at
2). Another school resource officer handcuffed J.W. after he
was tasered and lying on the floor, and Officer Paley called
emergency medical services. (See Docket Entry No.
28-1 at ¶¶ 7, 9; Docket Entry No. 29-2 at
¶¶ 31, 41-42; Docket Entry No. 28-10). J.W. did not
return to school that year. (Docket Entry No. 12 at
¶¶ 93, 114).
Washington sued, alleging, among other claims, that the
District had discriminated against J.W. based on his
disabilities, in violation of § 504 of the
Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794, and the Americans
with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12131 et
seq. (Id. at ¶¶ 153-72). Because J.W.
received special-education services at the Mayde Creek High
School under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
(IDEA), 20 U.S.C. § 1401 et seq., Ms.
Washington was required to exhaust any claims
“relat[ed] to the identification, evaluation, or
educational placement of the child, or the provision of a
free appropriate public education to such child.” 20
U.S.C. §§ 1415(b)(6)(A), (f).
Washington filed an administrative complaint in December 2017
under 20 U.S.C. § 1415(b)(7). The complaint included
J.W.'s § 504 and ADA claims, as well as his claim
alleging that the District had violated his right to a free
and appropriate public education under the IDEA. (Docket
Entry No. 12 at ¶ 7; see Docket Entry No. 27 at
221-43). The hearing officer dismissed the § 504 and ADA
claims for lack of jurisdiction and dismissed the IDEA claims
as time-barred under the one-year statute of limitations.
(Docket Entry No. 27 at 72).
defendants argued in their summary judgment motion that Ms.
Washington's § 504 and ADA claims had to be
exhausted because they related to providing J.W. a free and
appropriate public education. (Docket Entry No. 28 at 13-17).
The court agreed, concluding that under Fry v. Napoleon
Community Schools, 137 S.Ct. 743 (2017), the § 504
and ADA claims were related to a free and appropriate public
education for J.W. because the “claims could not be
brought if the alleged conduct had happened outside
school” and “rest[ed] on J.W.'s student
status.” (Docket Entry No. 34 at 16, 17 (citing
Fry, 137 S.Ct. at 756)). The court found that
J.W.'s age and graduation did not make administrative
exhaustion futile, and that Ms. Washington “did not and
cannot show that she exhausted her administrative
remedies.” (Id. at 18, 19).
Washington moves for reconsideration, arguing that the §
504 and ADA claims were only about the tasering incident and
did not implicate a “failure of special education
services.” (Docket Entry No. 39 at 15). She argues that
the court committed clear error in applying Fry.
(Id. at 16-21). The defendants responded, arguing
that the court's June 2019 Memorandum and Opinion
correctly applied Fry in concluding that Ms.
Washington's § 504 and ADA claims were sufficiently
connected to relief available under the IDEA to require
administrative exhaustion. (Docket Entry No. 43).
arguments on exhaustion and, as an alternative ground for
deciding, on the merits of the § 504 and ADA claims, are
The Standard for a Motion for Reconsideration
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not formally recognize a
motion to reconsider. See St. Paul Mercury Ins. Co. v.
Fair Grounds Corp., 123 F.3d 336, 339 (5th Cir. 1997)
(“[T]he Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not
recognize a general motion for reconsideration.”).
Motions to reconsider that seek to amend a final judgment are
treated as motions to alter or amend a judgment under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e), or motions for relief from
judgment under Rule 60(b), depending on when the motion is
filed. Demahy v. Schwarz Pharm. Inc., No. 11- 31073,
2012 WL 5261492, at *2 n.2 (5th Cir. Oct. 25, 2012) (citing
Tex. A & M Research Found. v. Magna Transp.,
Inc., 338 F.3d 394, 400 (5th Cir. 2003)). A motion for
reconsideration is considered under Rule 59(e) if it is filed
within 28 days of the court's ruling, and under Rule
60(b) if it is filed after that. Demahy, 2012 WL
5261492, at *2 n.2 (citing Tex. A&M, 338 F.3d at
400). However, Rule 54(b) applies to motions to reconsider
interlocutory orders that do not dispose of every claim or
resolve the rights of all parties to the litigation.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b); Austin v. Kroger Texas, L.P.,
864 F.3d 326, 336 (5th Cir. 2017).
Washington moves under Rule 59(e). (Docket Entry No. 39 at
8). The court does not consider the standard under Rule
60(b), which permits courts to relieve a party of a final
judgment, order, or proceeding but in extraordinary
circumstances. See In re Pettle, 410 F.3d 189, 191
(5th Cir. 2005). This motion is considered under Rule 54(b)
because the court's June 2019 Memorandum and Opinion did
not dispose of all claims or resolve the rights of all
parties to this litigation. See Caral v. Brennan,
853 F.3d 763, 766 (5th Cir. 2017).
54(b) underscores the court's power to “reconsider,
rescind or modify an interlocutory order for a cause seen by
[the court] to be sufficient.” Stoffels ex rel. SBC
Telephone Concession Plan v. SBC Commc'ns, Inc., 677
F.3d 720, 726 (5th Cir. 2012). “Under Rule 54(b),
‘the trial court is free to reconsider and reverse its
decision for any reason it deems sufficient, even in the
absence of new evidence or an intervening change in or
clarification of the substantive law.'”
Austin, 864 F.3d at 336 (quoting Lavespere v.
Niagara Mach. & Tool Works, Inc., 910 F.2d 167, 185
(5th Cir. 1990), abrogated on other grounds,
Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 n.14
(5th Cir. 1994) (en banc)). Although motions to reconsider
interlocutory orders are considered more leniently than
motions to amend under Rule 59(e), the Rule 59(e) factors
offer guidance. See Livingston Downs Racing Ass'n v.
Jefferson Downs Corp., 259 F.Supp.2d 471, 474-75 (M.D.
motion seeking reconsideration may not be used to relitigate
matters, raise arguments, or submit evidence that could have
been presented before the judgment or order was entered. 11
Charles Alan Wright et al., Federal Practice and Procedure
§ 2810.1 (3d ed.). “To obtain relief . . ., the
movant must (1) show that its motion is necessary to correct
a manifest error of law or fact, (2) present newly discovered
or previously unavailable evidence, (3) show that its motion
is necessary to prevent manifest injustice, or (4) show that
its motion is justified by an ...