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Esurance Insurance Co. v. Bowser

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

May 8, 2017

ESURANCE INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
LAVADA BOWSER, CAROL HARVEY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          J. CURTIS JOYNER, J.

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Esurance Insurance Company brought this declaratory judgment action pursuant to the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201, seeking a determination that it has no duty to defend or to indemnify the Defendants, Lavada Bowser and Carol Harvey, in connection with two lawsuits pending in state court.[1] The underlying proceedings are tort actions involving allegations relating to excessive corporal punishment and the physical, mental, and sexual abuse of two foster children while in the care of Defendants. Defendants were served with the declaratory judgment complaint on November 10, 2016. The time to plead or otherwise defend having expired, the Clerk of the Court entered a default on the record on December 7, 2016. On Plaintiff's motion for entry of default judgments, we declined to exercise jurisdiction over the matter and, sua sponte, dismissed the complaint without prejudice to Plaintiff's ability to seek a declaration in state court. (Doc. No. 8). Plaintiff now moves for reconsideration of that decision. (Doc. No. 9). For the following reasons, Plaintiff's Motion will be denied.

         II. Standard of Review

         “The purpose of a motion for reconsideration is to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence.” Harsco Corp. v. Zlotnicki, 779 F.2d 906, 909 (3d Cir. 1985). A motion for reconsideration may be granted if the moving party can show at least one of the following: “(1) an intervening change in the controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence that was not available when the court [ruled previously]; or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice.” Howard Hess Dental Labs. Inc. v. Dentsply Int'l, Inc., 602 F.3d 237, 251 (3d Cir. 2010). Plaintiff rests its Motion on the third factor, arguing that the Court committed a clear error of law by failing to fully and properly consider the relevant factors set out in Reifer v. Westport Ins. Corp., 751 F.3d 129 (3d Cir. 2014), and that the dismissal of Plaintiff's case has resulted in a manifest injustice.

         III. Analysis

         Plaintiff argues that the Court committed a clear error of law by considering only those factors enumerated in State Auto Ins. Co. v. Summy, 234 F.3d 131 (3d Cir. 2000), without considering additional factors enumerated by the Third Circuit in Reifer. In Reifer, the Third Circuit stated that in cases brought under the Declaratory Judgment Act district courts should guide their exercise of discretion by considering eight non-exhaustive factors, “to the extent they are relevant:

(1) the likelihood that a federal court declaration will resolve the uncertainty of obligation which gave rise to the controversy;
(2) the convenience of the parties;
(3) the public interest in settlement of the uncertainty of obligation;
(4) the availability and relative convenience of other remedies;
(5) a general policy of restraint when the same issues are pending in a state court;
(6) avoidance of duplicative litigation;
(7) prevention of the use of the declaratory action as a method of procedural fencing or as a means to provide another forum ...

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