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Gay v. Rorer

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

January 3, 2018

MADISON GAY, Plaintiff,
v.
EDWARD RORER, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM

          ROBERT F. KELLY, Sr. J.

         Presently before this Court is Plaintiff, Madison Gay's (“Gay”), Motion for Reconsideration of this Court's October 16, 2017 Order (“October 16th Order”), and the Defendant, Edward Rorer's (“Rorer”), Response in Opposition. For the following reasons, Gay's Motion for Reconsideration is denied as untimely.

         I.BACKGROUND

         Gay was driving on the morning of October 10, 2016, when Rorer struck her motor vehicle. (Def.'s Mem. Supp. Mot. for Partial Summ. J. at 3.) Gay filed a civil action against Rorer in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County on November 18, 2016. (Id.) On December 20, 2016, Rorer filed an Answer with New Matter. Rorer's New Matter claimed, in part, that Gay was precluded from seeking non-economic damages pursuant to the Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law (“MVFRL”), 75 Pa. Const. Stat. § 1705. (Id.) Shortly thereafter, the case was properly removed to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. (Id.)

         Rorer filed a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on July 24, 2017, arguing that Gay must be deemed to have selected the limited tort option because there was no evidence in the record to support that Gay or the vehicle she was driving at the time of the accident was insured. (Id. at 14-16.) Therefore she could not be considered a full tort Plaintiff under the MVFRL. (Id.) Gay responded by stating that there was a dispute as to her limited tort or full tort status and she should therefore be defaulted to full tort status. (Pl.'s Mem. in Opp'n Def.'s Mot. for Partial Summ. J. at 3-6.) Gay claims that she was merely “listed as a permissive driver under her [father's limited tort] policy covering the vehicle she was permitted to drive.” (Id. at 6.) Gay argued that since she was not an insured under the MVFRL and did not own the vehicle she was driving, she should not be precluded from claiming non-economic damages. (Id. at 5 (citing McWeeney v. Strickler, 61 A.3d 1023, 1030 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2013); 75 Pa. Const. Stat. § 1705(b)(3).)

         Rorer filed a Brief in Response to the Opposition of Plaintiff to the Motion for Summary Judgment, claiming Gay failed to provide evidence showing that she did not own the vehicle or that the vehicle was insured. (Def.'s Br. in Resp. to Opp'n of Pl. to Mot. for Summ. J. at 2-4.) Rorer cited Gay's verified Complaint and her deposition testimony that supported the proposition that she owned the vehicle she was driving at the time of the October 10, 2016 accident. (Id. at 3-4.) Additionally, the vehicle in question was not listed under the insurance declaration page Gay filed. (Id. at 2-3.) Accordingly, in denying Rorer's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, this Court found that the record indicated Gay was driving an uninsured vehicle which she repeatedly claimed to have owned. (See Doc. No. 12.) Therefore, this Court found her “to have selected the limited tort alternative pursuant to 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 1705(a)(5).” (Id.)

         On November 3, 2017, Gay filed the Motion for Reconsideration now before the Court. In it she claimed “new evidence has come to light” in the form of vehicle registration and insurance cards for a 1999 Ford Taurus.[1] (Pl.'s Mot. Recons. at 9-10.) Gay asserts that this evidence shows the car was owned and insured by her father, Michael Gay, at the time of the accident, therefore, refuting the foundation of the finding in the October 16th Order that she owned the vehicle involved in the accident and that said vehicle was uninsured. (Id. at 10, Ex. E.) Gay argues that under the MVFRL, this new evidence makes her an uninsured driver of a car she does not own and, therefore, not subject to the limited tort alternative election of her father's insurance policy. (Id. at 10). Thus, Gay argues she should not be precluded from maintaining an action for noneconomic damages under the MVFRL. (Id.) Gay requests this Court reconsider that finding and find that she retains all recovery rights under the full tort alternative. (Id. at 12.)

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A. Timeliness

         Motions for reconsideration filed in this Court are governed by Local Rule 7.1(g), which states that such motions “shall be served and filed within fourteen (14) days after the entry of the order concerned . . . .” Local R. Civ. P. 7.1(g). The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (“Third Circuit”) has held that “local rules play a significant role in the district courts' efforts to manage themselves and their dockets” and that it is “not an abuse of discretion for a district court to impose a harsh result, such as dismissing a motion or an appeal, when a litigant fails to strictly comply with the terms of a local rule.” United States v. Eleven Vehicles, Their Equip. and Accessories, 200 F.3d 203, 214 (3d. Cir. 2000) (citing Smith v. Oelenschlager, 845 F.2d 1182, 1184 (3d. Cir. 1988)). In United States v. Eleven Vehicles, Their Equip. and Accessories, the Third Circuit did, however, provide a framework for district courts to depart from a local rule where “(1) it has a sound rationale for doing so, and (2) so doing does not unfairly prejudice a party who has relied on the local rule to his detriment.” Id.

         B. Reconsideration

         “The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has held that ‘the purpose of a motion of reconsideration is to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence.'” Cohen v. Austin, 869 F.Supp. 320, 321 (E.D. Pa. 1994) (quoting Harsco Corp. v. Zlotnicki, 779 F.2d 906, 909 (3d. Cir. 1985)). Accordingly, a District Court should grant a party's motion for reconsideration under any of the following grounds: (1) an intervening change in controlling law, (2) the availability of new evidence not previously available, or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or to prevent manifest injustice. Max's Seafood Cafe ex rel. Lou-Ann, Inc. v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d. Cir. 1999). Federal courts have a strong interest in the finality of judgments, and motions for reconsideration should be granted sparingly. Continental Cas. Co. v. Diversified Indus., Inc., 884 F.Supp. 937, 943 (E.D. Pa. 1995). Dissatisfaction with the Court's ruling is not a proper basis for reconsideration. Glendon Energy Co. v. Borough of Glendon, 836 F.Supp. 1109, 1122 (E.D. Pa. 1993). Nor may a party “submit evidence which was available to it prior to a court's grant of summary judgment.” Tobin v. Gen. Elec. Co., No. 95-4003, 1998 WL 31875, at *2 (E.D. Pa. 1998) (citing Smith v. City of Chester, 155 F.R.D. 95, 97 (E.D. Pa. 1994)). The Court should consider “facts or legal issues properly presented but overlooked” when deciding whether to grant reconsideration. Blue Mountain Mushroom Co. v. Monterey Mushroom, Inc., 246 F.Supp.2d 394, 398-99 (E.D. Pa. 2002).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Gay moves for this Court to reconsider its October 16th Order with respect to the finding that she is a limited tort Plaintiff. We decline to consider this Motion due to it being untimely. Local Rule 7.1(g) clearly states that Motions for Reconsideration must be filed within fourteen days of the Order concerned. Local R. Civ. P. 7.1(g). This Court's Order was filed on October 16, 2017. (Doc. No. 12.) Gay filed her ...


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