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Township of Tinicum v. City of Philadelphia

November 12, 2010

TOWNSHIP OF TINICUM, COUNTY OF DELAWARE, PENNSYLVANIA PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA DEFENDANT.



OPINION

Now before the court are plaintiffs' Motion for Reconsideration and Motion to Stay Proceedings to Enforce the Judgment (Docket Nos. 58 & 60). For the reasons that follow and the reasons previously expressed in my August 27, 2010, Opinion and Order (Docket Nos. 57 & 58 [hereinafter "Order" and "Opinion" respectively]), I will deny plaintiffs' motions.

I. Background

This suit was brought pursuant to 53 P.S. § 14161 by Delaware County and the Township of Tinicum, a township located in Delaware County, seeking a declaration by this court that the Pennsylvania statute precludes the defendant City of Philadelphia, as owner of the Philadelphia International Airport ("PHL" or the "Airport"), from purchasing land for airport purposes in the Township and County without the assent of both Township and County officials.*fn1 This court ruled that insofar as the projected application of the statute was to bar expansion of the Airport unless acquiesced in by County and Township officials, the statute was preempted by the Federal Aviation Act, 49 U.S.C. 40101 et seq., as amended by the Vision 100 Act of 2003, Pub. L. No. 108-176, 117 Stat. 2490 (Dec. 12, 2003). This ruling was embodied in the Opinion and Order of August 27, 2010.

Plaintiffs have now filed two motions. The first is a motion for reconsideration of the August 27 judgment. The second is a motion to stay enforcement of the August 27 judgment (1) pending disposition of the motion for reconsideration, and (2) if this court denies the motion for reconsideration, until thirty days after disposition of the motion for reconsideration, in order to permit plaintiffs to file a notice of appeal from the August 27 judgment and move for a further stay of enforcement pending an appeal pursuant to Rule 62(c).*fn2

II. Motion for Reconsideration

A. Reconsideration Standard

Plaintiffs have brought their motion for reconsideration pursuant to both Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) and Rule 60(b). A brief review of these rules is in order.

Rule 59(e) permits a district court to "to alter or amend a judgment" if a motion is filed "no later than 28 days after the entry of the judgment." Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e). "Under Rule 59(e), a party must rely on one of three grounds: 1) the availability of new evidence not previously available, 2) an intervening change in controlling law, or 3) the need to correct a clear error of law or to prevent manifest injustice." Smith v. City of Chester, 155 F.R.D. 95, 96--97 (E.D. Pa. 1994).

Rule 60(b) provides additional grounds on which a party may be granted relief from a final judgment, order, or proceeding.*fn3 "The remedy by Rule 60(b) is extraordinary, and special circumstances must justify granting relief under it." Page v. Schweiker, 786 F.2d 150, 158 (3d Cir. 1986). Examples of situations where courts have granted relief under Rule 60(b) are "obvious errors of law that are apparent on the record, . . . errors caused by judicial inadvertence, or under other extraordinary circumstances." Id.

Plaintiffs here do not refer to any particular aspects of Rule 59(e) or a particular prong of Rule 60(b) that entitles them to relief, and instead argue in broad terms that reconsideration of this court's Opinion and Order is necessary "to correct clear errors of fact and to prevent manifest injustice," without identifying what the asserted manifest injustice would be.

B. Is Reconsideration Warranted?

1. "Erroneous Facts"

Plaintiffs' Motion for Reconsideration contends that "this Court's Opinion . . . is based upon several erroneous facts":

The first "erroneous fact" cited by plaintiffs is this court's recital that "[t]he majority of the Airport is located in the City of Philadelphia, but part of it lies in Tinicum Township, Delaware County." Plaintiffs contend that the record shows that "the majority of the Airport and its runways are already located in Tinicum Township." Plaintiffs then argue that "[t]o the extent this Court relied on the assumption that the majority of the Airport was located in Philadelphia as a basis for denying Plaintiffs' Motion For Judgment on the Pleadings, such assumption was a clear error." However, the asserted discrepancy is not of a sort that supports reconsideration of this court's Opinion and Order under Rule 59(e) or Rule 60(b), for it has no bearing on the question of preemption. The preemptive ...


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