United States District Court, D. Maryland
Margaret E. Kelly, et al.
The Johns Hopkins University
before the Court is Plaintiffs Katrina Allen, Jerrell Baker,
Treva N. Boney, Lourdes Cordero, Jeremiah M. Daley, Jr,
Margaret E. Kelly, Francine Lampros-Klein, and Tracey L.
McCracken's Motion for Partial Reconsideration (ECF No.
51). The Motion is ripe for disposition, and no hearing is
necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D.Md. 2016). For
the reasons outlined below, the Court will deny the Motion.
allege that Defendant Johns Hopkins has not prudently managed
its 403(b) pension plan (the “Plan”) in violation
of sections 404 and 406 of ERISA. (See Am. Compl.,
ECF No. 27). Plaintiffs further allege that Johns Hopkins has
not managed the Plan for the exclusive purpose of providing
benefits to participants and their beneficiaries. (See
id.). On January 6, 2017, Johns Hopkins filed a Motion
to Dismiss. (ECF No. 29). On September 28, 2017, the Court
granted in part and denied in part Johns Hopkins' Motion.
(ECF No. 45). In relevant part, the Court concluded that
“Plaintiffs failed to state a claim to the extent that
they allege that including higher-cost share classes in the
Plan, instead of available lower-cost share classes of the
same funds, is imprudent” in violation of ERISA. (Sept.
2017 Order at 2, ECF No. 45). The Court relied on the reasons
set forth in Sacerdote v. N.Y. Univ., No. 16-CV-6284
(KBF), 2017 WL 3701482 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 25, 2017) and Sweda
v. Univ. of Pa., No. 16-4329, 2017 WL 4179752 (E.D.Pa.
Sept. 21, 2017). (Id.).
now move for the Court to reconsider its September 28, 2017
Order. (ECF No. 51). On October 26, 2017, Johns Hopkins filed
an Opposition. (ECF No. 53). On November 9, 2017, Plaintiffs
filed a Reply. (ECF No. 55).
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure include three Rules that
permit a party to move for reconsideration. Of import here,
Rule 54(b) governs motions to reconsider interlocutory
orders. This Rule provides that interlocutory orders
“may be revised at any time before the entry of a
judgment adjudicating all the claims and all the parties'
rights and liabilities.” Courts treat interlocutory
rulings as law of the case. Carlson v. Boston Sci.
Corp., 856 F.3d 320, 325 (4th Cir. 2017). Under the
law-of-the-case doctrine, in the interest of finality,
“when a court decides upon a rule of law, that decision
should continue to govern the same issues in subsequent
stages in the same case.” Id. (quoting
TFWS, Inc. v. Franchot, 572 F.3d 186, 191 (4th Cir.
may revise an interlocutory order, then, on the same bases
upon which it may depart from the law of the case: “(1)
‘a subsequent trial produc[ing] substantially different
evidence'; (2) a change in applicable law; or (3) clear
error causing ‘manifest injustice.'”
Id. (quoting Am. Canoe Ass'n v. Murphy
Farms, Inc., 326 F.3d 505, 515 (4th Cir. 2003)). While
this standard “closely resembles” the standard
governing motions to alter or amend judgment under Rule
59(e), it accounts for “evidence discovered during
litigation” rather than discovering “new evidence
not available at trial.” Id. (quoting Pac.
Ins. Co. v. Am. Nat. Fire Ins. Co., 148 F.3d 396, 403
(4th Cir. 1998)). In any event, “[a] motion for
reconsideration is ‘not the proper place to relitigate
a case after the court has ruled against a party, as mere
disagreement with a court's rulings will not support
granting such a request.'” Lynn v. Monarch
Recovery Mgmt., Inc., 953 F.Supp.2d 612, 620 (D.Md.
2013) (quoting Sanders v. Prince George's Pub. Sch.
Sys., No. RWT 08CV501, 2011 WL 4443441, at *1 (D.Md.
Sept. 21, 2011)).
Plaintiffs argue that Sacerdote and Sweda
made clear errors of fact and law, and so, the Court's
reliance on them was also a clear error. Plaintiffs'
argument rests on two premises. First, Plaintiffs assert that
Sacerdote and Sweda “rely on the same
critical factual error, ” which is the “mistaken
belief that institutional-class mutual fund shares have less
liquidity than retail-class shares of the same funds.”
(Pls.' Mem. Supp. Mot. Partial Recons. [“Pls.'
Mot.”] at 1, ECF No. 51-1). Second, Plaintiffs contend
that that Sacerdote and Sweda
“overlook controlling authority, ” namely, the
United States Supreme Court's decision in Tibble v.
Edison Intermational, 135 S.Ct. 1823 (2015).
(Id. at 2).
contentions are unavailing. Their arguments reveal that, in
essence, they simply disagree with the reasoning of
Sacerdote and Sweda. And in turn, they
disagree with the Court's reliance on those decisions in
its September 28, 2017 Order. But “mere disagreement
with a court's rulings will not support granting” a
motion for reconsideration. Lynn, 953 F.Supp.2d at
620 (quoting Sanders, 2011 WL 4443441, at *1).
Similarly, “a factually supported and legally
justified” decision does not constitute clear error.
Lawley v. Northam, No. ELH-10-1074, 2013 WL 4525288,
at *1 (D.Md. Aug. 23, 2013) (quoting Hutchinson v.
Staton, 994 F.2d 1076, 1081-82 (4th Cir. 1993)). Put
more colorfully, for a prior judgment to constitute clear
error, it “cannot be ‘just maybe or probably
wrong; it must . . . strike [the court] as wrong with the
force of a five-week-old, unrefrigerated dead
fish.'” Id. (quoting Fontell v.
Hassett, 891 F.Supp.2d 739, 741 (D.Md. 2012)). The Court
concludes that Plaintiffs' disagreements with the
reasoning of Sacerdote and Sweda
insufficiently show that its September 28, 2017 Order was not
factually supported and legally justified, or sufficiently
wrong, to constitute clear error. See Lawley, 2013
WL 4525288, at *1.
therefore, have failed to provide sufficient grounds under
Rule 54(b) for the Court to alter or amend its September 28,
2017 Order. Accordingly, the Court will deny their Motion.
foregoing reasons, Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial
Reconsideration (ECF No. 51) is DENIED. Despite the informal
nature of this memorandum, it shall constitute an Order of
this Court, and the Clerk is directed to docket it
L. Russell, III United States District Judge.