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Hamilton v. Lmm Management, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

March 19, 2014

WANDA HAMILTON, Plaintiff,
v.
LMM MANAGEMENT, INC., et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

LAWRENCE F. STENGEL, District Judge.

This is a consumer class action brought under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The defendants move to stay the proceedings pending the outcome of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy of a debtor who is no longer a party to the case. For the reasons set forth below, I will deny this motion.

I. BACKGROUND

A detailed explanation of the procedural background of this case is necessary to understand this motion's disposition. Plaintiff Wanda Hamilton filed her complaint on May 28, 2013 against defendants McGuigan Law Office, LLM Management, Lawrence Weil, and CACH.[1] On August 23, 2013, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint, adding Square Two as a defendant.

On Septemb e r 1, 2013, Defendant McGuigan Law Office filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Bankr. E.D. Pa. 13-17633). Upon filing, the bankruptcy was listed as a no asset case. On September 26, 2013, McGuigan Law filed a suggestion of bankruptcy in this court; as a result, this court entered an Order on September 30, 2013 placing this case in suspense pending the bankruptcy of McGuigan Law Office.[2]

On October 1, 2013, the plaintiff requested that the automatic stay be lifted, indicating that the non-debtor defendants were not entitled to the automatic stay. A telephone conference of counsel for the parties with this court was held on October 25, 2013 to discuss this request.[3] At that conference, counsel for McGuigan Law argued that all of the defendants were so intertwined such that the bankruptcy proceeding will have an effect on the other defendants.[4] After further discussion, the plaintiff agreed not to proceed with her claims against McGuigan Law in this case and to submit a second amended complaint with this change. The court agreed to this resolution with no objection from the defendants.

On October 29, 2013, this court entered an Order returning this case to the active docket and granting the plaintiff's request to amend her complaint. On November 1, 2013, the plaintiff filed a second amended complaint, which no longer named McGuigan Law as a defendant. On November 18, 2013, the defendants answered this complaint.[5] A Rule 16 conference was then scheduled for January 3, 2013.[6]

On December 30, 2013, the defendants filed this motion under Rule 60(b), asking the court to again stay the case.[7] They argue that the change in McGuigan Law's bankruptcy case from a non-asset case to an asset case on November 21, 2013 is "newly discovered evidence" that warrants a reconsideration of the court's previous decision to return the case to the active docket. See Order dated October 29, 2013, Doc. No. 16. The plaintiff argues that the motion is procedurally deficient and should be dismissed accordingly.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The defendants bring their motion pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(2) and (6). These provisions state that a court "may relieve a party or a party's legal representative from a final judgment, order, or proceeding for... newly discovered evidence which by due diligence could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b)... or any other reason justifying relief from the operation of the judgment." FED. R. CIV. P. 60(b)(2) and (6). "The purpose of a motion for reconsideration is to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence." Dasilva v. Esmor Correctional Services, Inc., 167 Fed.Appx. 303, 308 (3d Cir. 2006)(quoting Harsco Corp. v. Zlotnicki , 779 F.2d 906, 909 (3d Cir.1985))(quotation marks omitted). Any party requesting such relief "bears a heavy burden." Compass Technology, Inc. v. Tseng Laboratories, Inc. , 71 F.3d 1125, 1130 (3d Cir.1995)(quoting Plisco v. Union R. Co. , 379 F.2d 15, 17 (3d Cir.1967)). Courts should grant motions for reconsideration sparingly, in the interest of finality. Karibjanian v. Chromalloy Pharmaceutical, Inc., Civ. A. No. 90-4641, 1991 WL 125176, at *4 (E.D.Pa. June 28, 1991).

III. DISCUSSION

Rule 60(b) only allows reconsideration of final orders or judgments. An order is final when it fully resolves all the claims presented to the district court such that there is nothing further for the district court to do. See, e.g., Catlin v. United States , 324 U.S. 229, 233 (1945); Penn West Associates, Inc. v. Cohen , 371 F.3d 118, 125 (3rd Cir. 2004); Aluminum Co. of Amer. v. Beazer East, Inc. , 124 F.3d 551, 557 (3d Cir.1997); Isidor Paiewonsky Assocs., Inc. v. Sharp Props., Inc. , 998 F.2d 145, 150 (3d Cir.1993).

The plaintiff argues the defendants' motion should be denied because the Order dated October 29, 2013 would not be a final order under Rule 60(b).[8] I agree. The Order did not resolve all the claims asserted in this matter. See Vintage Grapevine, Inc. v. Mara, No. Civ.A. 00-2828, 2001 WL 940422, at *1 (E.D.Pa. Aug. 6, 2001)(denying a Rule 60(b) motion for reconsideration of a motion for summary judgment because the decision was not a final judgment or order); Karibjanian v. Chromalloy Pharmaceutical, Inc., Civ. A. No. 90-4641, 1991 WL 125176, at *4 (E.D.Pa. June 28, 1991)(finding that an order was not final under Rule 60(b) "because it did not resolve all claims against all parties in th[e] action"). For this reason, Rule 60(b) cannot provide a basis for relief.[9]

Even if the motion pertained to an order that was final, the defendants offer no valid reason to undo the previous decision. They claim that the change in McGuigan Law's bankruptcy from a non-asset case to an asset case is "newly discovered evidence" under Rule 60(b).[10] However, the defendants fail to explain why this evidence was not available at the time the previous decision was made or why they ...


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