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ECEM European Chemical Marketing B.V. v. Purolite Co.

October 14, 2010

ECEM EUROPEAN CHEMICAL MARKETING B.V., PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE PUROLITE COMPANY, DEFENDANT.



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

OPINION

I. INTRODUCTION

On July 8, 2010, following a jury trial in this case, Plaintiff ECEM European Chemical Marketing B.V. ("ECEM") filed the instant Motion for Post-Trial Relief (Doc. No. 118 ["Pl. Motion"]). In this Motion, ECEM moves to vacate the judgment entered on June 10, 2010 against ECEM and in favor of Defendant The Purolite Company ("Purolite") in the amount of $245,213. In addition, ECEM moves to vacate the Court's Order dated January 29, 2010 denying ECEM's Motion in Limine to Exclude Evidence of Settlement Negotiations (Doc. No. 86). Finally, ECEM moves for a new trial on Purolite's counterclaim. On July 26, 2010, Purolite filed a Response in Opposition to ECEM's Motion for Post-Trial Relief (Doc. No. 123). On September 7, 2010, the Court held a hearing on the post-trial motions filed by the parties.*fn1 For the following reasons, ECEM's Motion for Post-Trial Relief (Doc. No. 118) will be denied in its entirety.

II. BACKGROUND

A statement of facts and procedural history of this case prior to trial are fully set forth in the Court's Opinion dated January 29, 2010 covering five pre-trial Motions in Limine. (Doc. No. 86 ["Opinion"].) In that Opinion, this Court precluded the introduction in evidence at trial of fourteen (14) trial exhibits*fn2 and corresponding testimony on the parties' discussions that occurred between January 1, 2005 and June 28, 2005. This Court found that during this period in 2005, the parties were engaged in settlement negotiations. Accordingly, the evidence was precluded under Federal Rule of Evidence 408, which prohibits the admission of evidence concerning settlement or compromise of a claim.

On June 1, 2010, a jury trial commenced in this case. On June 8, 2010, the jury entered a verdict on ECEM's claim against Purolite in the amount of $785,725. The jury also entered a verdict on Purolite's cross-claim against ECEM in the amount of $245,213. On June 10, 2010, this Court entered judgment on both verdicts. (Doc. Nos. 115, 116.) As noted above, currently before the Court is ECEM's Post-Trial Motion requesting the Court to (1) vacate judgment in favor of Purolite in the amount of $245,213; (2) vacate the Order precluding at trial the parties' discussions and fourteen (14) exhibits reflecting correspondence between the parties from January to June 2005; and (3) grant a new trial on Purolite's counter-claim.

III. LEGAL STANDARD

Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(a) permits the Court to grant a new trial after the completion of a jury trial. The decision to grant or deny a motion for a new trial "is confided almost entirely to the discretion of the district court." Blancha v. Raymark Indus., 972 F.2d 507, 512 (3d Cir. 1992). Such requests, however, are disfavored. United Nat'l. Ins. Co. v. AON, Ltd., No. 04-539, 2009 WL 2245373, at *5 (E.D. Pa. July 24, 2009); Williamson v. Consolidated Rail Corp., 926 F.2d 1344, 1353 (3d Cir. 1991). With respect to evidentiary rulings, "the court's inquiry in evaluating a motion for a new trial on the basis of trial error is twofold. It must first determine whether an error was made in the course of the trial, and then must determine 'whether that error was so prejudicial that refusal to grant a new trial would be inconsistent with substantial justice.'" State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Linow, No. 05-5368, 2010 WL 2222262, at *2 (E.D. Pa. June 2, 2010) (internal quotation omitted).

Alternatively, ECEM moves to amend or alter the judgment entered by the Court under Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e) and E.D. Pa. Local Civil Rule 7.1(g) on the grounds that the verdict was excessive. A court should grant a motion for reconsideration sparingly "because courts have a strong interest in the finality of judgments." Douris v. Schweiker, 229 F. Supp. 2d 391, 408 (E.D. Pa. 2002) (internal quotation omitted); Pa. Ins. Guar. Ass'n v. Trabosh, 812 F. Supp. 522, 524 (E.D. Pa. 1992). A motion for reconsideration will be granted only if the moving party can demonstrate one of the following: (1) there has been an intervening change in controlling law or fact; (2) new evidence has become available; or (3) there is a need to prevent manifest injustice or correct a clear error of law or fact. Max's Seafood Café v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999) (citing N. River Ins. Co. v. CIGNA Reinsurance. Co., 52 F.3d 1194, 1218 (3d Cir. 1995)). Mere dissatisfaction with the Court's ruling is not a proper basis for reconsideration.

Furthermore, it is improper "to ask the Court to rethink what it had already thought through-rightly or wrongly." Baker v. Astrue, No. 07-4560, 2008 WL 4922015, at *1 (E.D. Pa. Nov. 17, 2008) (citing Glendon Energy Co. v. Borough of Glendon, 836 F. Supp. 1109, 1122 (E.D. Pa. 1993) (internal quotations 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." Dee v. Borough of Dunmore, No. 05-1342, 2010 WL 2490677, at *1 (M.D. Pa. June 16, 2010) (quoting Ogden v. Keystone Residence, 226 F. Supp. 2d 588, 606 (M.D. Pa. 2002)). Moreover, "[a] motion for reconsideration is not properly grounded on a request that a court consider repetitive arguments that have been fully examined by the court." Blue Mountain Mushroom Co. v. Monterey Mushroom, Inc., 246 F. Supp. 2d 394, 398 (E.D. Pa. 2002).

IV. DISCUSSION

In its Post-Trial Motion, ECEM includes a Statement of Questions Involved, which provides as follows:

"1. Whether a new trial on the issue of defendant's counterclaim is necessary because the trial court erred in granting plaintiff's motion in limine to preclude fourteen (14) trial exhibits and certain testimony of the parties' business discussions that occurred between ...


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