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In Re: Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Sales Practices Litigation v. Metropolitan Tower Life Ins. Co. and Metlife

April 19, 2012

IN RE: METROPOLITAN LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY SALES PRACTICES LITIGATION
MATTHEWS
v.
METROPOLITAN TOWER LIFE INS. CO. AND METLIFE, INC.



Case No. 10-38725 CA 40 (11th Jud. Cir., Miami-Dade County, Fla.)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Donetta W. Ambrose, Senior Judge United States District Court

This matter relates to:

OPINION AND ORDER

SYNOPSIS

Before the Court is Plaintiff's Rule 60(b) Motion for Reconsideration and/or Clarification of this Court's Order dated November 10, 2011. In re Metropolitan Life Ins. Co. Sales Practices Litig., No. 96-179, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130073 (W.D. Pa. Nov. 10, 2011). Plaintiff seeks reconsideration of portions of the Order enforcing the settlement and release in MDL No. 1091. The crux of Plaintiff's primary argument rests on due process -- i.e., that class members lacked sufficient identity of interest with Plaintiff, and that his claims do not share the required nexus with the class claims. Further, he seeks clarification regarding the extent to which certain Counts of his Complaint may proceed.

For the following reasons, Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration will be denied, and his Motion for Clarification granted.

OPINION

I. MOTION FOR CLARIFICATION

First, Plaintiff seeks clarification regarding whether he may proceed with his individual claims at Count I of the Complaint. In the November 10 Order, I found that only Plaintiff's class claims -- as pleaded, in the class he proposed in the Complaint under consideration at the time of my Opinion -- are precluded. Count I is captioned "Class Action Count for Declaratory and Ancillary Relief," and I treated that Count as asserting only a class claim. To the extent that Count I encompasses any individual declaratory claim, that claim may proceed within the other parameters established by the November 10th Opinion. *fn1

Similarly, Plaintiff seeks clarification of my ruling that Counts IV and V of his Complaint are barred from proceeding. Again, my ruling was specific to the Complaint before me. I found that Plaintiff had pleaded his fraud claim, at Count IV, as dependent on, and a continuation of, Defendant's alleged 1995 fraud. Thus, I found that, as pleaded, that claim did not "independently arise" after 1995. Plaintiff's negligent misrepresentation claim, in contrast, specifically asserts conduct occurring after the close of the class period, as an independent basis for the claim -- for example, that claim asserts the 2009 representation as an independent negligent act. Accordingly, as with other claims addressed throughout the November 10 Opinion, Count V was deemed excluded from release to the extent that it asserts claims independently arising after the pertinent time period. In connection with Count II of the Complaint, Plaintiff requests that I clarify his ability to pursue disability benefits that were not paid after the class period. Nothing in the November 10 Order precludes him from pursuing such benefits.

Likewise, nothing in that Opinion and Order precludes plaintiff from attempting to amend his pleadings to assert claims that fall outside of the constraints of the MDL settlement and release. Unless barred by other rules or decisions, he is free to make such an attempt. I will not, however, issue any advisory opinions regarding allegations that are not before me. The parameters of Plaintiff's claims, going forward, lie within the authority of the presiding state court. I am quite confident that the state court is capable of interpreting and implementing the Orders entered in this litigation, and that it needs no federal policing in doing so.

II. MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION

A. RULE 60(b) STANDARDS

Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration is brought pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b). Motions for reconsideration are granted sparingly, "[b]ecause federal courts have a strong interest in finality of judgments." Continental Cas. Co. v. Diversified Indus., Inc., 884 F. Supp. 937, 943 (E.D.Pa. 1995). 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, 677 (3d Cir. 1999).

B. NOTICE ISSUES

Plaintiff seeks reconsideration of the portion of the Order rejecting his argument that because he received an incomplete notice package, he is not bound by the class settlement.*fn2 As recounted in the Findings of Fact and Conclusions of law in the MDL, the Publication Notice contained all of ...


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