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Hagan v. Leon

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

May 18, 2018

DANIEL HAGAN, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
DEISY BRAVO LEON, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ROBERT D. MARIANI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Presently before the Court is a Motion for Reconsideration, (Doc. 22), filed by Plaintiffs, Daniel and Karen Hagan. The Motion asks this Court to reconsider its Memorandum Opinion and accompanying Order of January 3, 2018, (Docs. 18, 19), which denied Plaintiffs' Motion for Remand. Also before the Court is a Motion to Strike Plaintiffs' Motion for Reconsideration, (Doc. 26), filed by Defendant Progressive Insurance Company. Because the Court finds that Plaintiffs' Motion for Reconsideration should be denied, the Court need not reach Progressive's Motion to Strike.

         II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         This lawsuit arose in the wake of a two car accident involving Daniel Hagan and Deisy Bravo Leon. (Doc. 1-1). According to Plaintiffs' Complaint, Mr. Hagan was driving his car on July 5, 2016, when a Dodge Durango-owned by Efrain Hernandez but driven by Deisy Bravo Leon-made an improper turn and collided with Mr. Hagan's car. (Doc. 1-1 at ¶¶ 8-10, 26). As a result, Mr. and Mrs. Hagan filed suit in state court on September 12, 2017. (Doc. 1 at¶ 1). In addition to suing Hernandez and Leon, Mr. Hagan also included a claim against his car insurance provider, Progressive, asserting that Mr. Hagan was entitled to underinsured motorist benefits under his policy. (Doc. 1-1 at ¶¶ 29-33). On October 12, 2017, Plaintiffs released Hernandez and Leon from "all claims and demands that [Plaintiffs] ever had, or now have, or may have, known or unknown, against [Hernandez and Leon], created by, or arising out of the incident of July 5, 2016." (Doc. 1-2). In exchange for the release, Hernandez and Leon agreed to pay Plaintiffs $15, 000 and to "refus[e] to consent to Removal if [Progressive] seeks to Remove the matter to Federal Court." (Id.).

         Progressive filed a Notice of Removal on November 22, 2017. (Doc. 1). Plaintiffs then filed a Motion to Remand on November 30, 2017, which argued that removal was improper because (1) the Notice of Removal failed to allege the citizenship of all parties at the time the Complaint was filed, and (2) not all of the defendants consented to removal. (Doc. 3). On the same day, Progressive Amended its Notice of Removal to allege the citizenship of all parties at the time the Complaint was filed. (Doc. 7).

         On January 3, 2018, this Court issued an Opinion denying Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand. (Doc. 18). The Court first found that any defect in the citizenship allegations was cured by Progressive's Amendment. (Id. at 3). The Court then held that the consent of Hernandez and Leon was not required to remove the action to federal court because both Hernandez and Leon had settled Plaintiffs' claims against them, had no remaining interest in the litigation, and were nominal parties. (Id. at 4-6). On January 18, 2018, Plaintiffs' filed their Motion for Reconsideration. (Doc. 22).

         III. 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). Specifically, the motion is generally permitted only if (1) there is an intervening change in the controlling law; (2) new evidence becomes available that was not previously available at the time the Court issued its decision; or (3) to correct clear errors of law or fact or prevent manifest injustice. Max's Seafood Cafe ex rel. Lou-Ann, Inc. v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999). Moreover, "motions for reconsideration should not be used to put forward arguments which the movant... could have made but neglected to make before judgment." United States v. Jasin, 292 F.Supp.2d 670, 677 (E.D. Pa. 2003) (internal quotation marks and alterations omitted) (quoting Reich v. Compton, 834 F.Supp.2d 753, 755 (E.D. Pa. 1993) rev'd in part and aff'd in part on other grounds, 57 F.3d 270 (3d Cir. 1995)). Nor should they "be used as a means to reargue matters already argued and disposed of or as an attempt to relitigate a point of disagreement between the Court and the litigant." Donegan v. Livingston, 877 F.Supp.2d 212, 226 (M.D. Pa. 2012) (quoting Ogden v. Keystone Residence, 226 F.Supp.2d 588, 606 (M.D. Pa. 2002)).

         IV. ANALYSIS

         Plaintiffs put forth a number of arguments as to why this Court should reconsider its January 3, 2018, Opinion and Order, all falling within the category of clear errors of law or fact. (Doc. 23 at 1). First, Plaintiffs argue that this Court erred in determining that Hernandez and Leon were nominal parties because the Court should have examined whether Hernandez and Leon had an interest in the litigation at the time the Complaint was filed, not at the time the Notice of Removal was filed. (Id. at 2-4). Relying on cases that hold that a party's citizenship for diversity jurisdiction purposes is determined with respect to the time a complaint is filed-that is, subsequent changes in citizenship do not impact diversity jurisdiction-Plaintiffs urge that the same should be true for a party's status as interested or nominal. Stated otherwise, Plaintiffs argue that if they had a viable claim against Hernandez and Leon at the time the Complaint was filed, subsequent developments in the case do not render Hernandez and Leon nominal parties.

         There are several problems with this argument. First, Plaintiffs do not cite a single case which holds that a Court, in determining whether or not a party is nominal, should only examine the party's interest at the time the complaint was filed. Thus, Plaintiffs are in the untenable position of arguing this Court made a clear error of law without being able to point to any authority that directly supports their position. Without any such authority, Plaintiffs' argument fails. Second, Plaintiffs' position is contradicted by the removal statute. Section 1446 of Title 28 of the United States Code provides, in part, that

if the case stated by the initial pleading is not removable, a notice of removal may be filed within 30 days after receipt by the defendant, through service or otherwise, of a copy of an amended pleading, motion, order or other paper from which it may first be ascertained that the case is one which is or has become removable.

28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(3) (emphasis added).[1] This provision clearly contemplates that a case that is not initially removable may ...


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