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Florence Wallace, et al v. Robert J. Powell

June 5, 2012

FLORENCE WALLACE, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ROBERT J. POWELL, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA WILLIAM CONWAY, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
MICHAEL T. CONAHAN, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
H.T., ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
MARK A. CIAVARELLA, JR., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA SAMANTHA HUMANIK, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MARK A. CIAVARELLA, JR., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA RAUL CLARK, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
MICHAEL T. CONAHAN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA WAYNE DAWN, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
MARK A. CIAVARELLA, JR., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA ANGELA RIMMER BELANGER, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
MARK A. CIAVARELLA, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caputo

(JUDGE CAPUTO)

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court is the Motion to Clarify Order, to Reconsider Order, for Summary Judgment, to Amend Answers or to Amend Order to Certify Order Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b) and Fed. R. App. P. 5(A)(3) and to Stay Proceedings (Doc. 1107) brought by Defendants Mid-Atlantic Youth Services, Corp., PA Child Care, LLC, and Western PA Child Care, LLC (together, the "Provider Defendants"). On April 10, 2012, the Court, applying the test for relief from a protective order set forth by the Third Circuit in Pansy v. Borough of Stroudsburg, 23 F.3d 772, 787-91 (3d Cir. 1994), denied Provider Defendants' Motion for Modification of or Relief from the Stipulated Protective Order. (Docs. 1101; 1102.) Now, Provider Defendants seek clarification, reconsideration, summary judgment, leave to amend, and/or certification for interlocutory appeal of the Court's Order. (Doc. 1107.) Because relief from the April 10, 2012 Order is not warranted, Provider Defendants' Motion will be denied in its entirety.

I. Background

As discussed in the April 10, 2012 Memorandum, (Doc. 1101), this action arises out of an alleged conspiracy in which two former Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas judges, Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan, accepted payments from various individuals and corporations for the purpose of facilitating the construction of juvenile detention facilities. Thereafter, Ciavarella and Conahan are alleged to have taken steps to ensure that a disproportionate number of juveniles were incarcerated in those facilities.Plaintiffs in this action are all juveniles or the parents of juveniles who appeared before Ciavarella. On July 27, 2011, Provider Defendants filed a motion for relief from the stipulated Protective Order that had been agreed upon by the parties and signed by the Court on July 23, 2009. (Doc. 205.) Specifically, Provider Defendants sought to modify the Protective Order so that they could show Attorneys' Eyes Only material to persons who were not privy to the material under paragraph 8 of the Order. (Doc. 957.) The Court denied the motion.

(Doc. 1102.) Provider Defendants subsequently filed the instant Motion requesting the Court to clarify, or reconsider, the prior decision. (Doc. 1107.) The Motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition.

II. Discussion

In the instant Motion, Provider Defendants request the Court to: (A) clarify the April 10, 2012 Order; (B) reconsider the Order; (C) grant summary judgment due to Plaintiffs' spoliation of evidence; (D) permit Provider Defendants to amend their answers to deny previously admitted averments; and/or (E) certify the April 10, 2012 Order for appeal. (Doc. 1107.) These issues will be addressed in seratim.

A. Clarification of the Order

According to Provider Defendants, "this Court should clarify its Order to state the nature of the damages that Plaintiffs are entitled to recover and the discovery about those damages to which Provider Defendants are entitled." (Doc. 1108.) "'The general purpose of a motion for clarification is to explain or clarify something ambiguous or vague, not to alter or amend." Montgomery Cnty. v. Microvote Corp., No. 97-6331, 2000 WL 341566, at *1 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 31, 2000) (quoting Resolution Trust Co. v. KPMG Peat Marwick, No. 92--1373, 1993 WL 211555, at *2 (E.D.Pa. June 8, 1993)).

Clarification of the April 10, 2012 Order is unwarranted. Contrary to Provider Defendants' assertion, the Court's Order did not fundamentally alter the rules of these actions. Likewise, the Order did not deny Provider Defendants due process. Rather, the Court's determination was narrow: Provider Defendants are not entitled to relief from the parties' stipulated Protective Order. And, this determination is clearly, and unambiguously, stated in the Court's Order: "NOW, this 10th day of April, 2012, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendants' Motion for Modification of or Relief From Stipulated Protective Order (Doc. 957) is DENIED." (Doc. 1102.) In that regard, the Order did not limit or alter the remedies or theories of relief in this action that existed prior to the Court's Order. Instead, the Court simply upheld the status quo pursuant to the terms of the parties' agreed upon Protective Order. Further clarification of the Court's Order is therefore unnecessary.

B. Reconsideration

Provider Defendants' motion for reconsideration will be denied. Here, Provider Defendants' motion for reconsideration arises under Middle District Local Rule 7.10. The procedure for such reconsideration is essentially the same as a motion to alter or amend judgment brought under Rule 59(e), except that it allows for reconsideration of any court order, and is not limited to the entry of judgment. Arlington Indus., Inc. v. Bridgeport Fittings, Inc., No. 3:06--CV--1105, 2011 WL 4916397, at *2 (M.D. Pa. Oct.17, 2011) (clarifying that the "difference between a motion for reconsideration under Local Rule 7.10 and a motion to alter or amend judgment under Rule 59(e) is that a motion for reconsideration under Local Rule may be filed in response to any order of the court, not solely after the entry of judgment.").

The purpose of a motion for reconsideration is to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence. See Harsco Corp. v. Zlotnicki, 779 F.2d 906, 909 (3d Cir. 1985). A judgment may be altered or amended if the party seeking reconsideration establishes at least one of the following: "(1) an intervening change in controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence that was not available when the court granted the motion for summary judgment; or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice." Max's Seafood Cafe, by Lou--Ann, Inc., v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999). "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). "[R]econsideration motions may not be used to raise new arguments or present evidence that could have been raised prior to the ...


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