Thursday, April 15, 2010

Late again. In Lora v. O'Heaney, the appellants, two defendants in a prisoner lawsuit had moved for summary judgment on qualified immunity grounds. The District Court denied the motion on January 21, 2009. The appellants moved for reconsideration under Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (That motion was not made within the ten days period within which such motions must be made.) The Court denied that motion on July 29, 2009. The appellants filed notices of appeal from both the underlying decision and the decision denying reconsideration on August 27, 2009.

The plaintiff moved to dismiss the appeals. On November 19, 2009, a motions panel of the Second Circuit held that the District Court's orders denying qualified immunity are appealable collateral orders because the defendants had conceded the plaintiff's version of the facts for the purposes of the appeal. The motions panel also stated that only the appeal from the order denying reconsideration was timely.

On full appeal, the Second Circuit noted that an untimely Rule 59(e) motion is treated as a motion for relief from a final judgment, order or proceeding, under Rule 60(b). Such a motion does not toll the time within which an appeal from the underlying order must be taken. An appeal from an order denying Rule 60(b) relief does not bring up the merits of the underlying judgment or order. Such an order is not an appealable collateral order. Accordingly, the Court dismissed the appeal.

The decision in this case can be found here.

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