United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
JANICE M. LEAMAN, Plaintiff,
GREGG B. WOLFE, Defendant.
FLOWERS CONTI CHIEF JUDGE.
Janice Leaman's (“Leaman”) filed a motion for
reconsideration or modification of this court's
memorandum opinion and order dated February 9, 2017 (ECF No.
88). Defendant Gregg Wolfe (“Wolfe”) filed a
response in opposition and plaintiff filed a reply brief. The
motion is ripe for disposition.
case arises from the breach of a settlement agreement between
two former business partners. The case has a lengthy
procedural history in the United States District Court for
the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the United States
Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit which will not be
repeated in full. In a nonprecedential opinion dated October
6, 2015, the court of appeals remanded the case to the
district court to calculate the damages and reasonable
attorneys' fees to which Leaman is entitled. On January
4, 2017, the case was reassigned to the undersigned judge
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 292(b). (ECF No. 80).
for summary judgment were filed after the remand (ECF Nos.
75, 76). The parties fully briefed the issues and submitted
numerous documents in support of their respective positions,
including a joint appendix (“J.A., ” ECF Nos.
75-4 to 75-11). The parties presented vastly different
proposals. Leaman contended that judgment for $81, 029.89
should be entered in her favor. This amount consisted of: (1)
interest of $10, 523.97; and (2) attorney fees and costs of
$70, 505.92. Leaman also sought the opportunity to prove at
trial “lost opportunity” damages of $230, 000 and
to recover the additional attorneys' fees she would incur
in that endeavor. Defendant proposed that judgment for
$641.78 be entered in favor of Leaman. This amount consisted
of: (1) interest of $26.65; (2) attorney fees of $265.13; and
(3) the $350 court filing fee. On February 9, 2017, the court
granted Leaman's motion in part, denied Wolfe's
motion, and entered judgment in favor of Leaman and against
Wolfe for damages of interest in the amount of $10, 523.97
and reasonable attorneys' fees of $28, 349.35, for a
total judgment of $38, 873.32.
contends that the court's award was too low. Leaman
argues that: (1) the caselaw cited by the court does not
support a 50% reduction from the lodestar calculation of
attorneys' fees; (2) the attorneys' fees were
incurred as a result of activities required by the court; and
(3) Leaman incurred additional attorneys' fees after
October 2016 which were not presented to the court due to the
aggressive briefing schedule imposed by a prior judge.
contends that the court's award was too high. Wolfe filed
an appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in
which he asserts that the court erred in calculating the
damages resulting from his minimally late payment and awarded
excessive attorneys' fees, and that Leaman waived her
right to accelerate payment. Wolfe also argues that many of
the additional counsel fees claimed by Leaman could have been
submitted to the court and that Leaman's failure to do so
was due to carelessness.
LEGAL STANDARDS APPLICABLE TO MOTIONS FOR
purpose of a motion to reconsider is “to correct
manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered
evidence.” Bootay v. KBR, Inc., 437 F.
App'x 140, 146-47 (3d Cir. 2011) (citing Harsco Corp.
v. Zlotnicki, 779 F.2d 906, 909 (3d Cir. 1985)). In
order to be successful on a motion for reconsideration, the
movant must demonstrate a “definite and firm conviction
that a mistake has been committed, ” or that the court
overlooked arguments that were previously made. United
States v. Jasin, 292 F.Supp.2d 670, 676 (E.D. Pa. 2003).
There are three circumstances in which a court may grant a
motion for reconsideration: (1) there has been an intervening
change in the law; (2) new evidence is now available that was
not available when the court entered judgment; or (3) there
is a need to correct a clear error of law or fact, or to
prevent manifest injustice. Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e); Allah v.
Ricci, 532 F. App'x 48, 51 (3d Cir. 2013) (citing
Lazaridis v. Wehmer, 591 F.3d 666, 669 (3d Cir.
2010)); Max's Seafood Café 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)). By reason of the interest in finality, at least
at the district court level, motions for reconsideration
should be sparingly granted. See Rottmund v. Cont'l
Assurance Co., 813 F.Supp. 1104, 1107 (E.D. Pa. 1992).
for reconsideration are not designed to provide litigants
with a “second bite at the apple.” Bhatnagar
v. Surrendra Overseas Ltd., 52 F.3d 1220, 1231 (3d Cir.
1995). A motion for reconsideration is not to be used to
relitigate, or “rehash, ” issues the court
already decided, or to ask a district court to rethink a
decision it, rightly or wrongly, already made. Williams
v. City of Pittsburgh, 32 F.Supp.2d 236, 238 (W.D. Pa.
1998); Reich v. Compton, 834 F.Supp. 753, 755 (E.D.
Pa. 1993), aff'd in part, rev'd in part, 57
F.3d 270 (3d Cir. 1995); Keyes v. Nat'l R.R.
Passenger Corp., 766 F.Supp. 277, 280 (E.D. Pa. 1991). A
motion for reconsideration is not to be used as a way to
advance additional arguments that the litigant could have
made, but chose not to make, sooner, or as an opportunity for
a litigant, having lost, to change theories of the case and
advance new, often contradictory, evidence in support.
Bell v. City of Phila., 275 F. App'x 157, 160
(3d Cir. 2008); Spence v. City of Phila., 147 F.
App'x 289, 291-92 (3d Cir. 2005); Bhatnagar, 52
F.3d at 1231; Trenton v. Scott Paper Co., 832 F.2d
806, 810 (3d Cir. 1987); Miller v. Court of Common Pleas
of Erie Cnty., No. 12-206, 2014 WL 108585, at *2 (W.D.
Pa. Jan. 10, 2014).
failed to identify a valid basis for reconsideration. She
essentially invites the court to rethink the decision and
reasoning set forth in the February 9, 2017 memorandum
opinion and order. Leaman did not identify any intervening
change in the law, but merely disputes the court's
application of prior decisions. The court will not revisit or
reiterate its analysis and application of those decisions to
the facts of this case.
court disagrees with Leaman's assertion that she was more
“successful” than the plaintiffs in those cases.
Leaman commenced this litigation by obtaining a confessed
judgment of $390, 350.00. Ultimately, the confessed judgment
was opened, Leaman was paid the remaining balance of the debt
owed by Wolfe, Leaman's claim for liquidated damages of
$100, 000 was defeated, her request for “lost
opportunity” damages of $230, 000 was rejected, and she
was awarded damages of interest in the amount of $10, 523.97,
plus attorneys' fees. By any measure, Leaman obtained a
modest percentage of the relief she sought.
now argues that many of her counsel fees resulted from
litigation activities that were required by the court. The
court is well aware that during litigation the court will
require parties to undertake activities to resolve issues
raised. This court considered that situation in reaching its
decision. The court commented: “Leaman's
entitlement to counsel fees throughout the litigation is
particularly appropriate in this case, in which she lost in
the district court but prevailed (in part) on appeal.”
Memorandum Opinion at 11-12. In evaluating the reasonable
amount of counsel fees, however, ...