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Jackson v. Egira, LLC

United States District Court, D. Maryland

November 4, 2016

SEAN JACKSON, et al, Plaintiffs,
v.
EGIRA, LLC, et al, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

          Richard D. Bennett United States District Judge

         Following a four day jury trial and jury verdict in favor of plaintiffs, this Court entered Judgment against defendants Egira, LLC, Anastasia Vasilakopoulos, and Konstantinos Vasilakopoulos, jointly and severally, on October 5, 2016. (ECF No. 147.) The Court also entered Judgment in favor of plaintiffs' counsel for an award of attorney's fees on October 5, 2016. (ECF No. 149.)

         On November 2, 2016, this Court received a "Morion to Reconsider" filed by defendant Anastasia Vasilakopoulos on a pro se basis (ECF No. 189) ("Defendant's Motion").[1] In her motion, Ms. Vasilakopoulos asks the Court to "dismiss any liability wrongfully attributed to me...or at a minimum be granted a new trial." (Id. at 1.) The parties' papers have been fully considered, and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons stated below, Defendant's Motion is DENIED.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not expressly recognize motions for "reconsideration." Instead, Rule 59(e) authorizes a district court to alter, amend, or vacate a prior judgment, and Rule 60 provides for relief from judgment. See Katyle v. Penn Nat'l Gaming, Inc., 637 F.3d 462, 471 n.4 (4th Cir. 2011), cert, denied, 132 S.Ct. 115 (2011). As this Court has explained:

A party may move to alter or amend a judgment under Rule 59(e), or for relief from a judgment under Rule 60(b). See Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e) & 60(b). A motion to alter or amend filed within 28 days of the judgment is analyzed under Rule 59(e); if the motion is filed later, Rule 60(b) controls. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e); MLC Auto., LLC v. Town of S. Pines, 532 F.3d 269, 280 (4th Cir. 2008); In re Burnley, 988 F.2d 1, 2-3 (4th Cir. 1992).

Cross v. Fleet Reserve Ass'n Pension Plan, Civ. No. WDQ-05-0001, 2010 WL 3609530, at *2 (D. Md. Sept. 14, 2010).

         Here, Ms. Vasilakopoulos filed her "Motion to Reconsider" within twenty-eight (28) days of this Court's entry of Judgment on October 5, 2016. (ECF No. 189.) Accordingly, insofar as her motion seeks to alter or amend this Court's Judgment, it will be considered under Rule 59(e). To the extent that Ms. Vasilakopoulos' motion seeks a new trial, it will be considered under Rule 59(a).

         I. Rule 59(e)

         The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has repeatedly recognized that a final judgment may be amended under Rule 59(e) in only three circumstances: (1) to accommodate an intervening change in controlling law; (2) to account for new evidence not available at trial; or (3) to correct a clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice. See, e.g., Gagliano v. Reliance Standard Life Ins. Co., 547 F.3d 230, 241 n.8 (4th Cir. 2008). Moreover, "[t]he district court has considerable discretion in deciding whether to modify or amend a judgment." Id. Such motions do not authorize a "game of hopscotch, " in which parties switch from one legal theory to another "like a bee in search of honey." Cochran v. Quest Software, Inc., 328 F.3d 1, 11 (1st Cir, 2003). In other words, a Rule 59(e) motion "may not be used to relitigate old matters, or to raise arguments or present evidence that could have been raised prior to entry of judgment." Pac. Ins. Co. v. Am. Natl Fire Ins. Co., 148 F.3d 396, 403 (4th Cir. 1998) (quoting 11 Wright, et al, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2810.1, at 127-28 (2d ed. 1995)). A motion for reconsideration thus should be denied when it "merely reiterates arguments [the] Court previously rejected in its Memorandum Opinion[.]" Redner's Markets, Inc. v. Joppatown G.P. Ltd. P'ship, RDB-11-1864, 2013 WL 5274356, at *8 (D. Md. Sept. 17, 2013).

         Where a party presents newly discovered evidence in support of its Rule 59(e) motion, it "must produce a legitimate justification for not presenting the evidence during the earlier proceeding." Id. (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). Where a party seeks reconsideration on the basis of manifest error, the earlier decision cannot be "'just maybe or probably wrong; it must. . . strike us as wrong with the force of a five-week old, unrefrigerated dead fish." TPWS, Inc. v. Francbot, 572 F.3d 186, 194 (4th Cir. 2009) (quoting Bellsouth Telesensor v. Info. Sys. & Networks Corp., Nos. 92-2355, 92-2437, 1995 WL 520978 at *5 n. 6 (4th Cir. Sept. 5, 1995)). "In general, reconsideration of a judgment after its entry is an extraordinary remedy which should be used sparingly." Id. (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).

         II. Rule 59(a)

         Following a jury trial, Rule 59(a) allows the court to grant a new trial on all or some issues "for any reason for which a new trial has heretofore been granted in an action at law in federal court." Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(a)(1)(A). "Because every litigant is entitled to one fair trial, not two, the decision of whether to grant or deny a motion for a new trial lies within the discretion of the district court." Wallace v. Poulos,861 F.Supp.2d 587, 599 (D. Md. 2012) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). See also King v, McMillan,594 F.3d 301, 314 (4th Cir. 2010). The court must exercise its discretion to grant a new trial only if the verdict "(1) is against the clear weight of the evidence, (2) is based upon evidence which is false, or (3) will result in a miscarriage of justice, even though there may be substantial evidence which would prevent the direction of a verdict." Wallace, 861 F.Supp.2d at 599 (citing Knussman v. Maryland, 272 F.3d 625, 639 (4th Cir. 2001)). Granting a new trial is not warranted "unless it is reasonably clear that ...


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