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Cruz v. Astrue

December 18, 2009

MODESTO CRUZ, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lynne A. Sitarski United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM

Before this court is a motion to amend judgment, in which plaintiff Modesto Cruz ("plaintiff") challenges this Court's denial of his motion for attorney's fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), 28 U.S.C. § 2412. For the reasons that follow, plaintiff's motion to amend the judgment is DENIED.

I. BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The Background and Procedural History of this case has been set forth in this Court's Memoranda dated January 29, 2009 (Doc. No. 18), and June 22, 2009 (Doc. No. 23), so will not be repeated here. The procedural history of particular relevance to the present motion can be summarized as follows:

Plaintiff filed a third civil action on January 11, 2008, challenging the denial of benefits for the closed period from November 23, 1996 to November 15, 2000. The parties consented to magistrate judge jurisdiction and this Court issued a Memorandum and Order dated January 29, 2009, granting in part and denying in part plaintiff's Request for Review, and remanding the case to the ALJ for proper assessment of the 2007 Medical Source Statement Concerning Nature and Severity of Impairments (Statement) completed by Melanie Ice, D.O.

On March 17, 2009, plaintiff filed a motion for attorney's fees pursuant to the EAJA, 28 U.S.C. § 2412. The Commissioner filed a brief in opposition to this motion, and plaintiff filed a reply brief. The court denied the motion on June 22, 2009. Plaintiff filed the instant motion for relief from judgment on July 7, 2009.

II. ANALYSIS

"A proper motion to alter or amend judgment must rely on one of three major grounds:

(1) an intervening change in controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence not available previously; or (3) the need to correct clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice." N. River Ins. Co. v. CIGNA Reinsurance Co., 52 F.3d 1194, 1218 (3d Cir. 1995)(internal quotation marks, brackets and citation omitted).

"A motion for reconsideration is not to be used as a means to reargue matters already argued and disposed of or as an attempt to relitigate a point of disagreement between the Court and the litigant." Ogden v. Keystone Residence, 226 F.Supp.2d 588, 606 (M.D.Pa.2002). Reconsideration motions may not be used to raise new arguments or present evidence that could have been raised prior to the entry of judgment. Hill v. Tammac Corp., 2006 WL 529044, at *2 (M.D.Pa. Mar. 3, 2006). "The purpose of the motion for reconsideration is to correct manifest error of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence," Harsco Corp. v. Zlotnicki, 779 F.2d 906, 909 (3d Cir.1985), and the movant bears the burden of showing "manifest errors of law or fact or new evidence." Egervary v. Rooney, 80 F.Supp.2d 491, 506 (E.D.Pa.2000) (citation omitted). "[A] motion for reconsideration addresses only factual and legal matters that the Court may have overlooked. [It is improper] to 'ask the Court to rethink what [it] had already thought through-rightly or wrongly.' " Glendon Energy Co. v. Borough of Glendon, 836 F.Supp. 1109, 1122 (E.D.Pa.1993) (citation omitted).

Importantly, the reconsideration of a judgment is an extraordinary remedy. "Because of the interest in finality... courts should grant motions for reconsideration sparingly." Rottmund v. Cont'l Assurance Co., 813 F.Supp. 1104, 1107 (E.D.Pa.1992); see also D'Angio v. Borough of Nescopeck, 56 F.Supp.2d 502, 504 (M.D.Pa.1999).

Plaintiff contends that the court improperly denied his motion for costs in addition to attorney's fees; improperly intruded upon the Commissioner's role in the fact-finding process by making a credibility determination as to Dr. Ice's 2007 Medical Source Statement; and erred as a matter of law by failing to apply Third Circuit precedent.

A. Plaintiff's Claim For Costs

Plaintiff's first argument, that the court misapprehended controlling law in failing to award costs as provided in 28 U.S.C. ยง 2412(a), is without merit. Plaintiff correctly quotes the ...


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