GLADYS KESSLER, District Judge.
Plaintiffs, 65 current and former Non-liturgical Protestant chaplains in the United States Navy, their endorsing agencies, and a fellowship of non-denominational Christian evangelical churches, bring this consolidated action against the Department of the Navy and several of its officials. Plaintiffs allege that Defendants discriminated against Non-liturgical Protestant chaplains on the basis of their religion, maintained a culture of denominational favoritism in the Navy, and infringed on their free exercise and free speech rights.
This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion for Modification and/or Clarification of the Court's Decision to Dismiss Certain Plaintiffs under the Statute of Limitations ("Motion") [Dkt. No. 203]. Upon consideration of Plaintiffs' Motion, and Plaintiffs' Errata [Dkt. No. 206], Defendants' Opposition to the Motion [Dkt. No. 208], Plaintiffs' Reply [Dkt. No.:212] and the entire record herein, and for the reasons set forth below, Plaintiffs' Motion shall be
A brief recitation of the facts is necessary to resolve Plaintiffs' Motion. For a more detailed summary of the facts and procedural history, see this Court's September 26, 2014 Memorandum Opinion resolving the Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment [Dkt. No. 194] .
This consolidated case is composed of three cases filed by the same counsel:
On June 18, 2007, the Court consolidated all three actions, concluding that they raise "substantially similar constitutional challenges to the Navy Chaplaincy program." Mem. Order, dated June. 18, 2007, at 4 [Dkt. No. 11]. Between 2002 and 2009, the parties conducted discovery, interspersed with collateral litigation and three interlocutory appeals to the D.C. Circuit. At the Court's request, on October 3, 2012, Plaintiffs filed a Consolidated Complaint [Dkt. No. 134] comprised of all the claims at issue in the consolidated case.
On September 26, 2014, the Court granted Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, finding that many of Plaintiffs' claims were time-barred.
On November 19, 2014, Plaintiffs filed their present Motion for Modification and/or Clarification [Dkt. No. 203]. Defendants filed their Opposition on December 18, 2014 ("Opp'n") [Dkt. No. 208], and Plaintiffs filed their Reply on January 12, 2015 ("Reply") [Dkt. No. 212].
II. LEGAL STANDARD
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54 (b) the Court has discretion to reconsider its own interlocutory decisions as justice requires at "any time before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all the claims and all the parties' rights and liabilities[,]" Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b).
Our Court has consistently held that Rule 54(b) reconsideration may be granted "as justice requires."
Ultimately, the "as justice requires" standard amounts to determining "whether reconsideration is necessary under the relevant circumstances."
A. The Court Correctly Held Section 2401(a) To Be Jurisdictional
Plaintiffs argue that the Court was incorrect in its conclusion that 28 U.S.C. § 2401(a) is jurisdictional and does not permit class action tolling. While Plaintiffs make several arguments as to why the Court's Summary Judgment Opinion was incorrect, they do not directly address why this Court is not bound by our Court of Appeals' decision in
As discussed in the Summary Judgment Opinion that Plaintiffs ask the Court to reconsider, our Court of Appeals has long held that Section 2401(a) is unlike a "normal statute of limitations" because it "`creates a jurisdictional condition attached to the government's waiver of sovereign immunity" that "cannot be waived by the parties" and is not subject to equitable extensions.
The Court of Appeals has acknowledged that it has "recently questioned the continuing viability of this holding in light of recent Supreme Court decisions" holding that statutes of limitations in actions against the Government are subject to the same rebuttable presumption of equitable tolling applicable to suits against private defendants.
However, because our Court of Appeals has explicitly held that § 2401(a) is jurisdictional, and because the Supreme Court's holding in
B. The Court Correctly Denied Equitable Tolling of the Limitations Period
Plaintiffs argue that D.C. Circuit precedent allows Section 2401(a) to tolled, even if it is jurisdictional.
Since Hohri was vacated, courts in this circuit have continuously held that because Section 2401(a) is jurisdictional, they lack the power to toll its limitation period.
Therefore, the Court correctly denied Plaintiffs' requests for equitable tolling.
C. Amending the Complaint
Plaintiffs request the opportunity to amend their Complaint prior to dismissal of the time-barred chaplains. Pls.' Mot. at 11. Plaintiffs contend that amendment of the Complaint "to further specify and clarify their continued injury by successive failures of selection ("FOS") and bias in the Reserves" will allow six chaplains to continue as plaintiffs.
Plaintiffs' argument is unavailing. The Consolidated Complaint was filed in October 2012 and is over 200 pages long, including a 75 page appendix of very detailed information of the claims for each plaintiff. Any claims Plaintiffs thought they had should have been included in the Consolidated Complaint.
Plaintiffs argue that they did not include subsequent FOS by various boards because they thought it unnecessary under D. C. Circuit law and the law of the case. Pls.' Mot. at 11. Necessary or not, Plaintiffs made a conscious decision not to include all of their claims in the Consolidated Complaint or to seek amendment at an earlier date. Although Plaintiffs may regret their decision to omit claims by these six plaintiffs now that their claims have been dismissed, that is not sufficient reason to permit them to amend their Complaint to assert the previously omitted claims.
Plaintiffs also contend that twelve chaplains should have been permitted to join
Given Plaintiffs' lack of specificity for why the Court should further delay dismissing the twelve chaplains who purportedly sought to join the Adair case in 2002, the Court sees no reason to withhold dismissal of those plaintiffs whose claims are time-barred.
For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiffs' Motion for Modification and/or Clarification of the Court's Decision to Dismiss Certain Plaintiffs under the Statute of Limitations shall be