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Lopez v. CSX Transportation, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

December 7, 2017

JUINAIMAJN LOPEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
CSX TRANSPORTATION, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          KIM R. GIBSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         Before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Reconsideration of the Denial of Summary Judgment as to Punitive Damages Based on Newly-Decided Authorities ("Motion for Reconsideration"). (ECF No. 64.) The issues have been fully briefed (see ECF Nos. 65, 66) and the Motion is ripe for disposition. For the reasons that follow, Defendant's motion will be DENIED.

         II. Jurisdiction

         The Court has subject matter jurisdiction over the instant action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1332 and 28 U.S.C. § 1441. Venue is proper pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391.

         III. Background

         This case arises from injuries that Plaintiff suffered when he was struck by a train operated by Defendant at a public grade crossing. On September 13, 2017, this Court published a memorandum opinion and accompanying order granting Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment on Plaintiff's claims that Defendant (1) negligently exceeded the speed limit, (2) negligently failed to have adequate pedestrian warnings, (3) negligently designed and maintained the crossing, and (4) negligently failed to issue adequate audible warnings. The Court denied Defendant's motion for summary judgment on (1) Plaintiff's claim for negligent operation of the train and (2) Plaintiff's claim for punitive damages. See Lopez v. CSX Transportation, Inc., No. 3:14-CV-257, 2017 WL 4063931, at *13 (W.D. Pa. Sept. 13, 2017).

         Defendant now asks this Court to reconsider its denial of summary judgment on Plaintiff's punitive damages claim. (See ECF No. 64; ECF No. 65.)[1]

         IV. Legal Standard

         "A motion for reconsideration is a limited vehicle used 'to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence.'" Jackson v. City of Philadelphia, 535 Fed.Appx. 64, 69 (3d Cir. 2013) (quoting Max's Seafood Cafe ex rel. Lou-Ann, Inc. v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir.1999)). "Accordingly, a judgment may be altered or amended if the party seeking reconsideration shows at least one of the following grounds: (1) an intervening change in the 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." U.S. ex rel. Schumann v. Astrazeneca Pharm. L.P., 769 F.3d 837, 848-49 (3d Cir. 2014) (quoting Max's Seafood Cafe, 176 F.3d at 677) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         "Motions for reconsideration are not designed to provide litigants with a 'second bite at the apple.'" Cole's Wexford Hotel, Inc. v. UPMC & Highmark Inc., No. CV 10-1609, 2017 WL 432947, at *2 (W.D. Pa. Feb. 1, 2017) (quoting 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." Cole's Wexford Hotel, WL 432947, at *2 (citing Williams v. City of Pittsburgh, 32 F.Supp.2d 236, 238 (W.D. Pa. 1998)). "By reason of the interest in finality, at least at the district court level, motions for reconsideration should be sparingly granted." Cole's Wexford Hotel, WL 432947, at *1.

         V. Discussion

         Defendant contends that an intervening change in controlling law mandates that this Court grant summary judgment in favor of Defendant on Plaintiff's punitive damages claim. (See ECF No. 65 at 3.) Defendant relies on two recent cases: (1) Marsh v. Norfolk S., Inc., 243 F.Supp.3d 557 (M.D. Pa. 2017); and (2) In re Paulsboro Derailment Cases, 2017 WL 3700902 (3d Cir. Aug. 28, 2017). As explained below, these cases have not changed controlling the law on punitive damages. Accordingly, the Court will deny Defendant's Motion.

         A. Defendant's Reliance on Marsh ...


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