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Rodriguez v. City of Philadelphia

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

June 18, 2018

ERIBERTO RODRIGUEZ, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          SLOMSKY, JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

         On July 24, 2014, Plaintiffs, family members of decedent Joanne Rodriguez and the administrator of her estate, commenced this suit in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas and included as a Defendant TriMark Corporation (“TriMark”), the supplier of the locking mechanism used in the ambulance that transported Joanne to Temple University Hospital (“Medic Unit 22”).[1] (Doc. No. 33 ¶¶ 14, 21.) Upon arrival at the hospital, the door locking actuator[2] failed, trapping Joanne and her unborn son inside the ambulance for a matter of minutes. (Id. ¶¶ 61-72.)

         Defendants removed the case to this Court. (Id. ¶ 22.) On August 29, 2014, Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint, [3] and on December 8, 2014, Plaintiffs filed a Second Amended Complaint. (Doc. Nos. 10, 33.)

         On December 22, 2014, TriMark filed a Third-Party Complaint against distributors HMI Group; HMI USA, Inc.; HMI, LTD.; and HMI Sources, Ltd. (hereinafter collectively “HMI”). TriMark had contracted with HMI for the purchase of actuators for ultimate distribution and installation in emergency transport vehicles, including ambulances and specifically Medic Unit 22. (Doc. No. 35 ¶ 6.)

         On December 21, 2015, TriMark amended its Third-Party Complaint, adding as Third-Party Defendants Tesor Plus Corporation (“Tesor”) and Pilock Corporation (“Pilock”), which were identified by HMI as manufacturers of the actuator at issue that was supplied to HMI before being used by TriMark. (Doc. No. 75 ¶ 9.) On August 19, 2016, Tesor and Pilock filed a Motion to Dismiss the Amended Third-Party Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) for lack of personal jurisdiction. (Doc. No. 90.) On February 17, 2017, this Court entered an Order affording a period of jurisdictional discovery. (Doc. No. 119.) In that same Order, the Court denied Tesor and Pilock's Motion to Dismiss without prejudice.[4] (Id.)

         On June 1, 2017, Tesor and Pilock filed another Motion to Dismiss the Amended Third-Party Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2). (Doc. No. 126.) On June 15, 2017, TriMark filed a Response in Opposition to Tesor and Pilock's Motion.[5] (Doc. Nos. 132-36.) On June 22, 2017, Tesor and Pilock filed a Reply. (Doc. No. 140.) On July 7, 2017, a hearing was held on the Motion. (Doc. No. 142.)

         On October 31, 2017, this Court issued an Opinion and Order granting Tesor and Pilock's Motion to Dismiss the Amended Third-Party Complaint. (Doc. Nos. 143-44.) A month later on November 30, 2017, TriMark filed a Motion for Reconsideration, Entry of a Separate Judgment, or Leave to Appeal. (Doc. No. 146.) On December 14, 2017, Tesor and Pilock filed a Response in Opposition to TriMark's Motion. (Doc. No. 147.) On January 1, 2018, TriMark filed a Reply. (Doc. No. 151.)

         TriMark advances three primary arguments in seeking reconsideration: (1) this Court erred by dismissing Tesor and Pilock as parties in this case and instead should transfer the action to the Northern District of Iowa, which would have jurisdiction over them; (2) alternatively, this Court should enter a final judgment as to Tesor and Pilock under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b);[6] and, in the alternative, (3) dismissal of Tesor and Pilock warrants leave to appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b).[7] (Doc. No. 146.)

         Tesor and Pilock respond initially by pointing out that TriMark's Motion should be denied because it is untimely pursuant to Local Rule 7.1(g). (Doc. No. 147.) In response to TriMark's first point, Tesor and Pilock argue that the Motion should be denied because TriMark does not satisfy the Motion for Reconsideration standard, cannot establish that personal jurisdiction exists over them in the proposed transferee court and improperly is seeking new relief in its request for transfer. (Id.) In response to TriMark's second point, they argue that entry of judgment under Rule 54(b) is not proper because TriMark cannot demonstrate the necessary showing that there is no just reason for delay caused by entry of judgment. (Id.) Finally, in response to TriMark's third point, Tesor and Pilock argue that TriMark cannot satisfy its burden of proving exceptional circumstances exist to warrant interlocutory appeal, and that it cannot satisfy the three-part test courts apply when confronted with requests for an interlocutory appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b). (Id.)

         TriMark's Motion for Reconsideration, Entry of a Separate Judgment, or Leave to Appeal (Doc. No. 146) is now ripe for a decision.

         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.” Howard Hess Dental Labs. Inc. v. Dentsply Int'l, Inc., 602 F.3d 237, 251 (3d Cir. 2010) (quoting Max's Seafood Cafe ex rel. Lou-Ann, Inc. v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999)). Thus, a proper motion for reconsideration “must rely on one of three grounds: (1) an intervening change in controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence; or (3) the need to correct clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice.” Wiest v. Lynch, 710 F.3d 121, 128 (3d Cir. 2013) (quoting Lazaridis v. Wehmer, 591 F.3d 666, 669 (3d Cir. 2010)).

         A motion for reconsideration should only address “factual and legal matters that the Court may have overlooked.” In re Blood Reagents Antitrust Litig., 756 F.Supp.2d 637, 640 (E.D. Pa. 2010) (quoting Glendon Energy Co. v. Borough of Glendon, 836 F.Supp. 1109, 1122 (E.D. Pa. 1993)). It is improper that a motion for reconsideration ask the court to “rethink what it had already thought through-rightly or wrongly.” Id. (quoting Glendon Energy Co., 836 F.Supp. at 1122). A motion for reconsideration is not a tool to present new legal theories or arguments that could have been asserted to support the first motion. Federico v. Charterers Mut. Assur. Ass'n, Ltd., 158 F.Supp.2d 565, 578 (E.D. Pa. 2001).

         When the moving party argues that the court overlooked certain evidence or controlling decisions of law which were previously presented, a court should grant a motion for reconsideration only if the issues overlooked might reasonably have resulted in a different conclusion. Cataldo v. Moses, 361 F.Supp.2d 420, 433 (D.N.J. 2004). Federal courts have a strong interest in the finality of judgments and therefore should grant motions for reconsideration sparingly. In re Asbestos Prods. Liab. Litig. (No. VI), 801 F.Supp.2d 333, 334 (E.D. Pa. 2011).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. TriMark's Motion for Reconsideration[8] Will Be Denied Because It Is Untimely Pursuant to Local Rule 7.1(g)

         Eastern District of Pennsylvania Local Rule 7.1(g) provides that “[m]otions for reconsideration or reargument shall be served and filed within fourteen (14) days after the entry of the order concerned.”[9] The time frame is mandatory, evidenced by use of the word “shall.”

         Here, this Court issued its Opinion and Order granting Tesor and Pilock's Motion to Dismiss the Amended Third-Party Complaint on October 31, 2017. (Doc. Nos. 143-44.) TriMark filed its Motion for Reconsideration on November 30, 2017, 16 days after the 14-day time period expired. (Doc. No. 146.) Therefore, TriMark's Motion for Reconsideration is untimely. Bridges v. Colvin, 136 F.Supp.3d 620 (E.D. Pa. 2015) (denying a motion for reconsideration of an interlocutory order that was filed one day late because it was untimely pursuant to Local Rule 7.1(g)). Accordingly, the Motion (Doc. No. 146) will be denied. Id. (“[I]t 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.” (citing United States v. Eleven Vehicles, 200 F.3d 203, 214 (3d Cir. 2000))).

         As noted, Local Rule 7.1(g) provides that the 14-day time frame applies to motions “other than those governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e).” Rule 59(e) provides as follows: “A motion to alter or amend a judgment must be filed no later than 28 days after the entry of the judgment.” This rule does not affect the fact that TriMark's Motion for Reconsideration is untimely because the Motion was filed more than 28 days after entry of the October 31, 2017 Opinion and Order.

         Moreover, the October 31, 2017 Opinion and Order was not a “judgment” under Rule 59(e). The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure define “judgment” to “include[] a decree and any order from which an appeal lies.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(a). “An order dismissing some, but not all, of a party's claims is neither a decree nor an order from which an appeal lies; rather, such an order is interlocutory in nature.” Bridges, 136 F.Supp.3d at 628 (citing Andrews v. United States, 373 U.S. 334, 340 (1963)). “[B]ecause an order dismissing fewer than all claims or parties is generally not a final judgment, a Rule 59(e) motion to challenge such an order may only be filed after the district court enters the final judgment.” Id. (citing Auto Servs. Co. v. KPMG, 537 F.3d 853, 856 (8th Cir. 2008)).

         Thus, the October 31, 2017 Opinion and Order was not a “judgment” because it dismissed some, but not all parties and claims, given that claims against HMI in the Amended Third-Party Complaint still remain. Therefore, Rule 59(e) is not applicable to the instant motion.

         For these reasons, TriMark's Motion for Reconsideration is untimely pursuant to Local Rule 7.1(g) and therefore will be denied. Even if the Motion was not untimely, reconsideration is not warranted.

         B. TriMark's Motion Will Be Denied Because TriMark Has Not Established that Reconsideration Is Warranted

         Even if TriMark's Motion for Reconsideration was timely, reconsideration is not warranted. As noted, a proper motion for reconsideration “must rely on one of three grounds: (1) an intervening change in controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence; or (3) the need to correct clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice.” Wiest v. Lynch, 710 F.3d 121, 128 (3d Cir. 2013) (quoting Lazaridis v. Wehmer, 591 F.3d 666, 669 (3d Cir. 2010)).

         Here, TriMark does not specify how it satisfies the standard for reconsideration. It has not identified an intervening change in controlling law that would affect the Court's recent decision and has not added any new evidence for the Court to consider. Id. TriMark also does not cite any clear errors of law or describe a manifest injustice. Id.

         The only error TriMark alleges that the Court made was to “dismiss[] the Third-Party Complaint filed against [Tesor and Pilock]” instead of transferring the action because “transfer, rather than dismissal, is the option of choice.” (Doc. No. 146-2 at 4 (quoting D'Jamoos v. Pilatus Aircraft Ltd., No. 07-1153, 2009 WL 3152188, at *2 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 1, 2009)).)

         Tesor and Pilock submit that the Court was never asked to transfer, and therefore the Court did not err. (Doc. No. 147 at 22.) As they note, “Courts often take a dim view of issues raised for the first time in post-judgment motions.” (Id. (quoting Kiewit E. Co. v. L&R Constr. Co., 44 F.3d 1194, 1204 (3d Cir. 1995)).) And “[a] motion to reconsider may not raise new arguments that could have (or should have) been made in support of or in opposition to the original motion.” (Id. (quoting Pac. Emp'rs Ins. Co. v. Glob. Reinsurance Corp. of Am., No. 09-6055, 2010 WL 2376131, at *5 (E.D. Pa. June 9, 2010)).)

         The Court agrees with Tesor and Pilock. First, the Court's decision to dismiss rather than transfer cannot be considered as an error of law because, as the record shows, this Court was never asked to transfer before it dismissed Tesor and Pilock as Third-Party Defendants. TriMark improperly raises this argument for the first time in its motion for reconsideration. Pac. Emp'rs Ins. Co., 2010 WL 2376131, at *5.

         Second, the Court's decision to dismiss Tesor and Pilock as Third-Party Defendants does not warrant reconsideration to “prevent manifest injustice” because no such injustice exists. As this Court has observed, “[i]n order for a court to reconsider a decision due to ‘manifest injustice, ' the record presented must be so patently unfair and tainted that the error is manifestly clear to all who view it.'” Teri Woods Publ'g, L.L.C. v. Williams, No. 12-04854, 2013 WL 6388560, at *2 (E.D. Pa. Dec. 6, 2013) (citation omitted). TriMark has failed to demonstrate such an error. For these reasons, reconsideration is not warranted.

         C. Transfer of This Case to the Northern District of Iowa Is Not Warranted

         TriMark asks this Court to transfer the matter to the Northern District of Iowa, which TriMark asserts would have jurisdiction over Tesor and Pilock. Because the Northern District of Iowa does not have personal jurisdiction over Tesor or Pilock either, the Court will not transfer the action.

         1. The Court Will Not Transfer This Action Because the Proposed Transferee Court Does Not Have ...


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