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Mazi Gola, et al. v. City of Philadelphia

June 13, 2011

MAZI GOLA, ET AL.
v.
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, ET AL.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: O'neill, J.

MEMORANDUM

Presently before me is a letter from Center City Metals that I construe as a motion for reconsideration of my March 22, 2011 ruling. Mazi Gola, Joe Gola and the New York Diamond exchange have responded via letter.

BACKGROUND

This action began as three separate lawsuits, each of which was originally filed in the Court of Common Pleas for Philadelphia. In the first case, filed on October 15, 2009, Mazi Gola d/b/a New York Diamond Exchange and Joe Gola a/k/a Joe the Jeweler's filed section 1983 claims against the City of Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections, Dominic J. Verdi, Public Nuisance Task Force Liason for the Department of Licenses and Inspections, John Doe, an employee of the Department of Licenses and Inspections, Edward A. Rust, both as an individual and in his capacity as the owner of Center City Metals, LLC, Officer Murray of the Philadelphia Police Department and Detective T. Sweeney, also of the Philadelphia Police Department. The City of Philadelphia removed the case to this Court on November 3, 2009. It was assigned to my calendar and docketed at civil action number 09-5037. No party contends that such removal was improper.

In the second case, filed on July 15, 2010, Center City Metals, LLC sued Joe Gola and New York Diamond Exchange, alleging that Gola and NYDE owed it $10,000 as a result of an April 28, 2009 business transaction between the parties. Joe Gola and NYDE filed a third party complaint against the City of Philadelphia and Philadelphia police officer Thomas Peters, alleging, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, that third party defendants violated their federally protected civil rights. On December 10, 2010, the third party defendants removed the case to this Court, where it was assigned to my colleague the Honorable Robert F. Kelly and docketed at civil action number 10-7185. On December 31, 2010, Center City Metals moved to remand the case to the Court of Common Pleas.

In the third case, filed on August 10, 2010, Center City Metals sued Gideon Gola and Mazi Gola d/b/a New York Diamond Exchange, alleging that those parties were also liable for the $10,000 debt described in the first lawsuit. On October 20, 2010, Gideon Gola and Mazi Gola filed a third party complaint against the City of Philadelphia and Philadelphia police officer Peters which contained allegations identical to those in the third party complaint filed in the second case. On November 19, 2010, the third party defendants removed the case to this Court, where it was assigned to Judge Kelly and docketed at civil action number 10-6813. On December 22, 2010, Center City Metals moved to remand the case to the Court of Common Pleas.

While the motions to remand were pending in the second and third cases, Joe Gola and Mazi Gola filed in the first case a motion to consolidate all three cases. Having received no response to that motion, I granted the motion as unopposed. All three motions were consolidated for all purposes under this caption. On March 22, 2011, I denied the motions to remand filed in the second and third cases, finding that by not opposing the motion to consolidate Center City Metals had waived whatever argument it had in support of remand. I then placed the case on the suspense docket. On April 11, 2011, Center City Metals sent a letter to chambers requesting that "[the motions to remand] be reinstated and decided . . . after oral argument." Counsel for Mazi Gola, Joe Gola and the New York Diamond Exchanged responded via letter on April 14, 2011. Center City Metals's request, which effectively seeks reconsideration of my March 22, 2011 ruling, is presently before me.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

This Court has a strong interest in the finality of judgments. Motions for reconsideration will therefore be granted sparingly. Continental Cas. Co. v. Diversified Indus., Inc., 884 F. Supp. 937, 943 (E.D. Pa. 1995). Such a motion will be granted only where the party seeking reconsideration has demonstrated: (1) an intervening change in controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence that was not available when the court entered judgment; or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice. Max's Seafood Cafe 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).

DISCUSSION

I note at the outset my concern about how counsel for Center City Metals has handled this case. First, if counsel for Center City Metals believed that the second and third cases were improperly removed to this Court they should have opposed the motions to consolidate those cases with the first case, which all parties apparently agree was properly removed here. Even if it is true, as counsel for Center City Metals asserts, that Judge Kelly implied that the motions to remand would be addressed after the consolidation motions were handled, the prudent course would have been for counsel to place that understanding on the record by filing an appropriate response to the motion for consolidation.

Second, 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) requires a motion to remand to be filed "within thirty days after the filing of the notice of removal under section 1446(a)." Counsel for Center City Metals did not file a motion to remand civil action number 10-6813 until thirty-three days after the notice of removal was filed.*fn1 After the thirty day period set forth in section 1447(c) expires, the Court is powerless to remand a case because of a procedural defect.*fn2 Ramos v. Quien, 631 F. Supp. 2d 601, 608 (E.D. Pa. 2008) ("A district court does not have the statutory authority to remand a case because of a procedural defect . . . after section 1447(c)'s thirty-day limit expires.").

Finally, to the extent that Center City Metals disagreed with my March 22, 2011 ruling, it should have filed a motion for reconsideration of the decision along with appropriate briefing. Instead, it chose merely to deliver to chambers a letter devoid of any substantive discussion as to why I should reconsider my ruling. Additionally, under Rule 7.1(g) of the Local Rules of Civil Procedure, a motion for reconsideration must be "served and filed within fourteen (14) days after the entry of the . . . order . . . concerned." The motion for reconsideration, to the extent the letter can be construed as such, ...


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