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Cher-D, Inc. v. Great American Alliance Insurance Co.

June 15, 2009

CHER-D, INC., T/A PINE KNOB INN
v.
GREAT AMERICAN ALLIANCE INSURANCE COMPANY



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Surrick, J.

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Reconsideration of the Court's Opinion and Order of April 7, 2009. (Doc. No. 23.) For the following reasons, the Motion will be denied.

I. BACKGROUND

This case is an insurance coverage dispute that arose between an insured, Pine Knob Inn ("Plaintiff"), and its insurer, Great American Alliance Insurance Company ("Defendant"), following two fires. The facts of the case are set forth more fully in the April 7, 2009 Memorandum and Order granting in part and denying in part Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. We recite only the facts that are relevant to the instant Motion.

On October 1, 2004, an electrical fire damaged Plaintiff's country inn. Plaintiff promptly notified Defendant of the covered loss and of its intent to resume operations. Defendant thereafter began the process of adjusting Plaintiff's insurance claim. In January 2005, as the adjustment process continued, Defendant did not renew Plaintiff's insurance policy and Plaintiff was unable to obtain other coverage. Meanwhile, vandals began entering Plaintiff's country inn and causing additional damage. Defendant was told about the trespasses and vandalism. On May 23, 2005, Defendant still had not paid Plaintiff for the loss from the first fire when vandals entered the country inn and caused a second fire that completely destroyed the building.

On November 1, 2005, Plaintiff filed a two-count Complaint. Count I alleges that Defendant breached its contract with Plaintiff to provide insurance coverage under the policy. (See Compl. ¶¶ 20-24.) Count II alleges that Defendant acted in bad faith under Pennsylvania law, 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 8371, and "other applicable law." (Id. ¶¶ 25-28.) In the April 7, 2009 Memorandum and Order, summary judgment was granted in favor of Defendant on Count I. We concluded that the record did not support a finding that the first fire, a covered harm under Plaintiff's policy, was the proximate cause of the second fire. This being the case, the policy did not cover losses from the second fire. See Cher-D, Inc., v. Great Am. Alliance Ins. Co., No. 05-5936, 2009 WL 943530, at *7 (E.D. Pa. Apr. 7, 2009).

Summary judgment was denied on Count II. We concluded that a reasonable jury could find by clear and convincing evidence that Defendant acted in bad faith by delaying payment for the first fire. See id. at *12. We reasoned that Defendant waited nine months before providing its estimate of the damage from the first fire and six months after Plaintiff had submitted its own estimate. We found no evidence in the record to suggest a reason for the delay. The contractor that provided Defendant's estimate had visited the premises within two weeks of the fire. We observed that, "[o]nly after the second fire destroyed what remained of Plaintiff's building did Defendant finally get around to providing its estimate of the damage from the first fire." Id. Defendant's estimate of approximately $1 million did not differ significantly from Plaintiff's earlier estimate of $1,250,745.11. Id.

Defendant filed the instant Motion asking us to reconsider the April 7, 2009 decision as to Count II and enter judgment in its favor.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) allows parties to file a motion to alter or amend a judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e). A Rule 59(e) motion is a motion for reconsideration. See E.D. Pa. Local R. Civ. P. 7.1(g). The purpose of a motion for reconsideration is to "'correct manifest errors of law or fact or [to] present newly discovered evidence.'" Max's Seafood Cafe v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 678 (3d Cir. 1999) (quoting Harsco Corp. v. Zlotnicki, 779 F.2d 906, 909 (3d Cir. 1985)). A judgment may be altered or amended on three grounds: "(1) an intervening change in the controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence that was not available when the court granted the motion for summary judgment; or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice." Id. (citing N. River Ins. Co. v. CIGNA Reinsurance Co., 52 F.3d 1194, 1218 (3d Cir. 1995)).

"Dissatisfaction with the Court's ruling is not a proper basis for reconsideration." Id. (citation omitted); see also Glenolden Energy Co. v. Borough of Glenolden, 836 F. Supp. 1109, 1122 (E.D. Pa. 1993) (finding that a motion for reconsideration is not properly grounded on request to rethink a decision the court has already made). Thus, courts need not "reconsider repetitive arguments that have [already] been fully examined." Sonders v. PNC Bank, N.A., No. 01-3083, 2003 WL 22310301, at *1 (E. D. Pa. Oct. 9, 2003) (citing Blue Mountain Mushroom Co. v. Monterey Mushroom, Inc., 246 F. Supp. 2d 394, 398 (E.D. Pa. 2002)). In addition, a motion for reconsideration may not be used as a vehicle to assert new arguments that could have been but were not previously presented to the court. See Bailey v. United Airlines, 279 F.3d 194, 201 (3d Cir. 2002) ("A district court may properly refuse to consider evidence presented in a motion for reconsideration when the evidence was available prior to summary judgment."); Conway v. A.I. duPont Hosp. for Children, No. 04-4862, 2009 WL 1492178, at *3 (E.D. Pa. May 26, 2009) (denying motion for reconsideration where evidence was available but not presented to the court at the time of its decision); Assisted Living Group, Inc., v. Upper Dublin Twp., No. 97-3427, 1997 WL 762801, at *2 (E.D. Pa. Dec. 8, 1997) (denying motion for reconsideration where "movants have not come forward with any newly discovered evidence, do not cite an intervening change in controlling law and fail to point out any clear error of law or manifest injustice"). Due to the strong interest in the finality of judgments, courts should grant motions for reconsideration sparingly. Slagan v. John Whitman & Assoc., Inc., No. 97-3961, 1997 WL 611587, at *1 (E.D. Pa. Sept. 26, 1997); see also A.K. Stamping Co. v. Instrument Specialties Co., 106 F. Supp. 2d 627, 662 (D.N.J. 2000) (noting that Rule 56(e) provides an "extraordinary remedy" that is " 'to be granted sparingly'" (quoting NL Indus., Inc., v. Commercial Union Ins. Co., 935 F. Supp. 513, 516 (D.N.J. 1996))). In considering the instant motion for reconsideration, we must determine whether (1) a clear error of law or manifest injustice was committed; (2) there has been an intervening change in controlling law; or (3) new evidence has become available.

III. DISCUSSION

Defendant argues that we should reconsider the April 7, 2009 Memorandum and Order denying summary judgment on Count II because Plaintiff's Complaint did not provide fair notice of a bad faith claim based on Defendant's adjustment of the October 2004 fire. Alternatively, Defendant argues that the evidence does not support such a claim, entitling Defendant to summary judgment. Defendant offers two affidavits and multiple pages of deposition testimony in support of the request for reconsideration. However, the affidavits and deposition testimony were not a part of the record ...


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