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United States v. Dotstry

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

May 3, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
KENDRICK LEDELLE DOTSTRY, Defendant.

          ERICA H. MACDONALD, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, AND ANDREW TWEETEN, ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, 300 SOUTH FOURTH STREET, SUITE 600, MINNEAPOLIS, MN 55415, FOR PLAINTIFF.

          KENDRICK DOTSTRY, NO. 09196-041, FCI OXFORD, PO BOX 1000, OXFORD, WI 53952, PRO SE DEFENDANT.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION

          JOHN R. TUNHEIM Chief Judge

         Kendrick Dotstry brings a motion pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) seeking relief from two of the Court's prior orders. (Mot. for Relief, Mar. 18, 2019, Docket No. 63.) He argues that the Court made a legal error in applying a statute of limitations to deny his previous motions and that, even if the statute of limitations applied, he is entitled to equitable tolling. Because the Court did not err in applying the statute of limitations, and because Dotstry is not entitled to equitable tolling, the Court will deny his Motion.

         BACKGROUND

         On June 25, 2018, and July 2, 2018, Kendrick Dotstry brought two Rule 41(g) motions seeking the return of various sums of money, including $36, 854.00 that the government took from him in 1998. (See Order (“1st Order”), Sept. 10, 2018, Docket No. 57.) The Court denied both motions and, relevant to the present Rule 59(e) motion, held that Dotstry's claim for the return of $36, 854.00 was time-barred. (Id. at 5.) The Court followed United States v. Mendez, 860 F.3d 1147 (8th Cir. 2017), in applying a six-year statute of limitations to Dotstry's Rule 41(g) motion, and held that his claim for the $36, 854.00 was time-barred because he was or should have been aware of his claim as early as 2000 and as late as 2008.

         After the Court denied his motions, Dotstry filed a Rule 59(e) motion seeking to alter or amend the Court's decision. (See Order (“2d Order”) at 1, Nov. 6, 2018, Docket No. 61.) In this motion, Dotstry argued that his Rule 41(g) claim for the $36, 854.00 was not time-barred, and that the Court erred in so holding. Dotstry asserted that he was not and should not have been aware of his claim until 2017, and that the statute of limitations clock did not start tolling until that year. The Court again denied Dotstry's motion, reaffirming its decision that the statute of limitations had run because Dotstry should have been aware of his claim as early as 2000 and as late as 2008.

         Now, Dotstry brings a motion seeking relief from both of the Court's prior orders. He styles this motion as one under Rule 60(b), and argues that the Court erred in its prior orders. Dotstry again disputes the Court's application of the statute of limitations. However, instead of arguing about whether the statute of limitations has run, he argues that no statute of limitations applies and that the Court erred in applying one. Alternatively, he argues that he is entitled to equitable tolling, because the government allegedly withheld the fact that it had taken the $36, 854.00.

         ANALYSIS

         A. Rule 60(b)

         Rule 60(b) provides that a district court “may relieve a party . . . from a final judgment, order, or proceeding for . . . mistake.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(1). Dotstry alleges that the Court made a mistake when it applied a six-year statute of limitations.

         There are at least two procedural shortcomings with Dotstry's motion, each of which justify its denial. First, “‘relief under Rule 60(b)(1) for judicial error other than for judicial inadvertence' is not available.Lowry v. McDonnell Douglas Corp., 211 F.3d 457, 461 (8th Cir. 2000). Dotstry is not alleging that the Court made an inadvertent mistake, but rather that the Court misapplied the law. However, “arguing that a court misunderstood or misapplied the law is not grounds for relief under Rule 60(b)(1).” Nichols v. United States, No. 400CR00022-03-WRW, 2006 WL 3420303, at *2 (E.D. Ark. Nov. 28, 2006). Thus, Dotstry's 60(b)(1) motion is improper.

         Even if Dotstry's motion could somehow be construed as alleging judicial inadvertence, his motion is untimely. “To prevent its use as a substitute for appeal, ” the Eighth Circuit requires that a “Rule 60(b) motion alleging judicial inadvertence . . . be made within the time period allowed for appeal.” Fox v. Brewer, 620 F.2d 177, 180 (8thCir. 1980); see also CRI, Inc. v. Watson, 608 F.2d 1137, 1143 (8th Cir. 1979) (“When the alleged error could have been corrected by appeal, the motion must be made within the time period allowed for appeal.”). Dotstry had 60 days to file an appeal of each of the Court's original orders but failed to do so. Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(1)(B). The Court's first order was filed on September 10, 2018, and the second on November 6, 2018. Dotstry filed this motion on March 18, 2019. Dotstry's motion is thus untimely, and the Court will deny it on these grounds.

         Even if the Court excused both shortcomings, the Court would still deny Dotstry's motion on the merits. Dotstry asserts that, because Rule 41(g) does not contain a statute of limitations, the Court errored in applying one. Dotstry is incorrect. While it is true that 41(g) does not contain an explicit statute of limitations, the Eighth Circuit-in United States v. Mendez-adopted a six-year statute of limitations based on 28 U.S.C. § 2401(a), joining every other circuit to consider the issue.[1] 860 F.3d at 1149-50. Dotstry recognizes Mendez but ...


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