Castellaw v. Excelsior College, 14-CV-1048 (PKC) (RLM)

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
PartiesCAROLINE CASTELLAW, et al., Plaintiffs, v. EXCELSIOR COLLEGE, Defendant.
Docket Number14-CV-1048 (PKC) (RLM)
Decision Date20 July 2021

CAROLINE CASTELLAW, et al., Plaintiffs,


No. 14-CV-1048 (PKC) (RLM)

United States District Court, E.D. New York

July 20, 2021



On April 15, 2021, Plaintiff Maketa Jolly, proceeding pro se, sought to reopen this over seven-year-old class action-which settled and was dismissed with prejudice in July 2015-by filing a “Motion to Supplement His [sic] Motion to Alter or Amend the Judgment [] or, in the Alternative, for Relief from Final Judgment Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b).” (Dkt. 222.) On April 26, 2021, Plaintiff filed a “Motion for Reopening Due to Federal Damages Violations of Bivens, Fraud on the Court.” (Dkt. 224.) On May 17, 2021, Plaintiff filed a “Motion to Set Aside/Re-open New Evidence.” (Dkt. 228.) By orders on April 28, May 5, and May 21, 2021, the Court referred these motions to the Honorable Roanne L. Mann, Magistrate Judge, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

On June 21, 2021, Judge Mann issued a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) recommending that the motions be denied as untimely and, in any event, frivolous. (See R&R, Dkt. 232, at 12-17.) Judge Mann also recommended, given Plaintiff's “ongoing practice of filing frivolous and repetitive letters, motions and lawsuits, ” that a filing injunction be imposed on Plaintiff, requiring her to seek and obtain advance leave of the Court before making future filings, and that Plaintiff be warned that violations will be punishable by monetary sanctions. (Id. at 18.) On July 9, 2021, Plaintiff timely filed an objection, styled as a “Response to Report and Recommendation, ” to which Plaintiff attached over 150 pages of exhibits. (See Dkt. 234; see also R&R, Dkt. 232, at 19 (ordering that any objections must be filed by July 9, 2021).) For the reasons below, the Court overrules Plaintiff's objection and adopts in substantial part Judge Mann's thorough and well-reasoned R&R.


A district court “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). If any party timely files written objections to a magistrate judge's findings or recommendations on a dispositive issue, the district court must review de novo the aspects to which objections have been made. See id.; Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). Objections, however, “must be specific and clearly aimed at particular findings in the magistrate judge's proposal.” N.Y.C. Dist. Council of Carpenters v. Allied Design & Constr., LLC, 335 F.Supp.3d 349, 351 (E.D.N.Y. 2018) (citing McDonaugh v. Astrue, 672 F.Supp.2d 542, 547 (S.D.N.Y. 2009)). “[G]eneral objections, or ‘objections that are merely perfunctory responses argued in an attempt to engage the district court in a rehashing of the same arguments set forth in the original papers will not suffice to invoke de novo review.'” Condoleo v. Guangzhou Jindo Container Co., 427 F.Supp.3d 316, 319 (E.D.N.Y. 2019) (quoting Owusu v. N.Y. State Ins., 655 F.Supp.2d 308, 312-13 (S.D.N.Y. 2009)); see also Mario v. P & C FoodMkts., Inc., 313 F.3d 758, 766 (2d Cir. 2002) (“Merely referring the court to previously filed papers or arguments does not constitute an adequate objection under . . . Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b).”).

“When a party makes only conclusory or general objections [to an R&R, ] the Court will review the [R&R] strictly for clear error.” Condoleo, 427 F.Supp.3d at 319 (quoting Trivedi v. N.Y. State Unified Court Sys. Office of Court Admin., 818 F.Supp.2d 712, 726 (S.D.N.Y. 2011)). Similarly, the portions of a magistrate judge's findings and recommendations to which no party timely objects need be reviewed, at most, for clear error. See Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 150 (1985) (“It does not appear that Congress intended to require district court review of a magistrate's factual or legal conclusions, under a de novo or any other standard, when neither party objects to those findings.”); Jarvis v. N. Am. Globex Fund, L.P., 823 F.Supp.2d 161, 163 (E.D.N.Y. 2011) (“To accept the report and recommendation of a magistrate, to which no timely objection has been made, a district court need only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record.” (citation omitted)). Regardless of whether it engages in de novo review or reviews simply for clear error, “[t]he district court need not . . . specifically articulate its reasons for rejecting a party's objections or for adopting a magistrate judge's report and recommendation in its entirety, ” particularly when it is “clear” that “the challenges are meritless.” Morris v. Local 804, Int'l Brotherhood of Teamsters, 167 Fed.Appx. 230, 232 (2d Cir. 2006) (summary order); accord N.Y.C. Dist. Council of Carpenters, 335 F.Supp.3d at 351.

Although “the submissions of a pro se litigant must be construed liberally and interpreted to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest, ” Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474 (2d Cir. 2006) (per curiam) (internal quotation marks, italics, and citations omitted), “[e]ven a pro se party's objections to a Report and Recommendation must be specific and clearly aimed at particular findings . . . such that no party be allowed a second bite at the apple by simply relitigating a prior argument, ” Clarke v. United States, 367 F.Supp.3d 72, 75 (S.D.N.Y. 2019) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).


I. The Court Adopts the Recommendation to Deny Plaintiff's Request to Reopen

Plaintiff's “Response to Report and Recommendation, ” including its attached exhibits, does not make any specific objections to the R&R. (See Dkt. 234, at ECF[1] 1-14.) Rather, the response appears to rehash arguments, based on events occurring well after this case settled, that courts have rejected multiple times, as discussed below. Indeed, while Plaintiff's response does not mention the present R&R once, it specifically refers several times to Judge Mann's September 2019 R&R in this case (see, e.g., id. at ECF 3, 7), which determined that other post-judgment motions by Plaintiff similar to the ones here were improperly seeking to litigate “new, largely unrelated, allegations” from the ones in the...

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