United States District Court, D. Maine
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO REOPEN CASE
A. WOODCOCK, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
November 13, 2008, Rosario Vito Caruso, then an inmate at the
Maine State Prison, filed a complaint in this Court pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Chris Banker, a corrections
officer at the Prison, alleging that Officer Banker assaulted
him on June 24, 2008. Compl. (ECF No. 1). On
February 26, 2009, Officer Banker answered the Complaint.
Answer (ECF No. 7). On the same day, the Magistrate
Judge issued a Scheduling Order. Scheduling Order
(ECF No. 8). The Scheduling Order set a discovery deadline of
July 30, 2009 and a dispositive motion deadline of August 20,
2009. Id. at 2.
August 19, 2009, Officer Banker filed a seven-page motion for
summary judgment with a statement of facts, five supporting
affidavits, and attached documentation. Mot. for Summ. J.
of Def. Chris Banker (ECF No. 9); Statement of
Material Facts of Def. Chris Banker (ECF No. 10);
Aff. of Chris Banker (ECF No. 11); Aff. of Tony
Mendez (ECF No. 12); Aff. of Clayton Knight
(ECF No. 13); Aff. of Jeanmarie Koenig (ECF No. 14);
Aff. of Janine Collins (ECF No. 15). Mr. Caruso
failed to respond to Officer Banker's motion for summary
judgment and on September 11, 2009, the Court granted the
motion without objection. Order Granting Without Obj.
Mot. for Summ. J. (ECF No. 16). On September 14, 2009,
the Court Clerk entered a judgment in favor of Officer Banker
and against Mr. Caruso. J. in Favor of Chris Banker
Against Rosario Vito Caruso (ECF No. 17).
September 21, 2009, Mr. Caruso requested relief from final
judgment, stating that he needed more time because he was
recently “sent from the Maine State Prison in Warren to
the Somerset County Jail in Madison” and had neither
“the means to research case law” nor “the
proper paperwork to file.” Letter Mot. for Order
for Relief from J. (ECF No. 19). On September 25, 2009,
the Court granted Mr. Caruso's motion and allowed him two
weeks from the date of the order to file a response to
Officer Banker's motion for summary judgment, making his
opposition due on or before October 9, 2009. Order
Granting Mot. for Relief from J. And Denying Mot. for
Appointment of Counsel at 1-2 (ECF No. 20).
Caruso did not respond to the motion for summary judgment,
but on October 6, 2009, he moved to delay his case until
after he had been released from prison, which the Court
construed as a motion to dismiss without
prejudice. Letter Mot. from Rosario Caruso
(ECF No. 21). On October 8, 2009, Officer Banker objected to
the motion to dismiss and requested that the dismissal be
with prejudice. Opp'n of Def. to the Pl.'s Mot.
to Dismiss the Compl. Without Prejudice (ECF No. 22). On
October 15, 2009, overruling Officer Banker's objection,
the Court dismissed Mr. Caruso's Complaint without
prejudice. Order on Mot. to Dismiss at 1-2 (ECF No.
23) (Order). On the same day, the Court Clerk
entered a judgment against Mr. Caruso's Complaint and in
favor of Chris Banker. J. (ECF No. 24).
Mr. Caruso let his case go to sleep for nearly seven years.
On September 8, 2016, Mr. Caruso wrote the Court to request
that it reopen his case. Letter Mot. to Reopen Case
(ECF No. 25). In the letter, acknowledging that it has been
“quite a while” since he filed the § 1983
complaint, Mr. Caruso explains “I was in Missouri and
unavailable to attend any court proceedings.”
Id. at 1. On September 28, 2016, Officer Banker
objected, noting the history of the case, including the
Court's refusal to stay the case in 2009 and its advice
to Mr. Caruso to review the contents of the motion for
summary judgment before re-filing a new complaint.
Opp'n to Mot. to Reopen the Case (ECF No. 27).
Court agrees with Officer Banker that much too much time has
passed for the Court to allow Mr. Caruso to reopen case
against Officer Banker. Mr. Caruso has simply slept on his
rights year after year and now awakened, he asks the Court to
excuse him from his inaction. Merely being “in
Missouri” is not a legitimate excuse. The Court
routinely deals with litigants from all over the country and
occasionally the world, and they are able to pursue their
Court were to grant Mr. Caruso's motion to reopen, it
would effectively have granted him a stay, which it refused
to do on October 15, 2009, and had the Court granted a stay
in 2009, it would not have granted a seven-year stay,
allowing Mr. Caruso to litigate an assault claim almost nine
years after it allegedly occurred.
Caruso's motion is also years late based on any
potentially applicable provision of the civil rules.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(b), (e) (twenty eight days
after the entry of judgment); Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b), (c) (within
one year or for some bases, within a reasonable time, after
the entry of judgment).
brings the Court to a final point. Mr. Caruso was not the
only party to his lawsuit. Officer Banker was a defendant
and, as the Court noted in its earlier order, “Mr.
Banker, no less than Mr. Caruso, deserves a speedy resolution
to the pending lawsuit, and there is no telling whether
witnesses and other evidence would be available at some
undefined time in the future as they are today.”
Order at 1 n.1. Even if Mr. Caruso could make some
kind of equitable claim, which other than being in Missouri
he has not, the Court would be loathed to force Officer
Banker to defend an assault claim nearly nine years after it
allegedly took place. Using the potentially applicable state
statutes of limitation as a guide, see Burnett v.
Grattan, 468 U.S. 42, 48-50 (1984), Mr. Caruso would
have to have filed his lawsuit within a much shorter time
from the alleged assault to fit within the applicable statute
of limitations. See 14 M.R.S. § 752 (six years
after the cause of action accrues for all civil actions); 14
M.R.S. § 8110 (two years after the cause of action
accrues against a governmental entity or its employees).
Witnesses become unavailable, memories fade, and documents go
missing or are destroyed. It would be grossly unfair to
require Officer Banker to defend a claim so long ago
extinguished by a final order of this Court.
Court DENIES Rosario Vito Caruso's Motion to Reopen (ECF