United States District Court, D. Maryland
Xinis United States District Judge.
March 13, 2018, the Court dismissed the above-captioned case,
granting summary judgment for Defendant Institute for In
Vitro Sciences, Inc. (“IIVS”). ECF No. 45.
Plaintiff Michele Damiano (“Damiano”) now moves
for the Court to alter its judgment pursuant to Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 59(e). ECF No. 47. IIVS opposes the
motion. ECF No. 48. The Court now rules because no hearing is
necessary. See D. Md. Loc. R. 105.6. Upon
consideration of the parties' briefing and the evidence
in the record, the Court DENIES Damiano's motion.
relevant facts are summarized in the Court's Memorandum
Opinion granting summary judgment, ECF No. 45. In short,
Damiano was employed by IIVS from February 3, 2015 until her
termination on September 9, 2015. Upon her termination, IIVS
presented Damiano with a letter stating that the severance
package included “[c]ontinuation of current health and
disability insurance benefits paid in full by IIVS, through
October 31, 2015.” On October 3, 2015, Damiano was
hospitalized and underwent emergency brain surgery. When she
contacted IIVS on October 23, 2015, seeking disability
benefits, she was told that contrary to the terms of the
letter, she was not eligible for coverage. However, based on
IIVS' representations in her termination letter, Damiano
applied for long term disability benefits to the claims
administrator on February 12, 2016. The claims administrator
requested additional information from Damiano's attending
physicians and employer to complete the application, but
Damiano never provided the requested information. As a
result, Damiano's application for benefits was never
completed, and benefits were never conferred.
initially filed suit alleging a variety of claims, which
ultimately narrowed to a single count of breach of fiduciary
duty against IIVS under the Employee Retirement Security Act
of 1971 (ERISA). IIVS then moved for summary judgment on the
sole remaining count, which this Court granted. ECF No. 45.
Damiano timely moved for reconsideration, arguing that the
Court erred in determining that Damiano failed to demonstrate
IIVS' misstatements as to coverage led to any legally
cognizable harm. ECF No. 47.
Standard of Review
motion for reconsideration filed within 28 days of the
underlying order is governed by Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 59(e). See Katyle v. Penn. Nat. Gaming,
Inc., 637 F.3d 462, 470 n.4 (4th Cir. 2011). Courts
recognize three limited grounds for granting a motion for
reconsideration brought pursuant to Rule 59(e): (1) to
accommodate an intervening change in controlling law, (2) to
account for new evidence not previously available, or (3) to
correct a clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice.
See United States ex rel. Becker v. Westinghouse Savannah
River Co., 305 F.3d 284, 290 (4th Cir. 2002) (citing
Pacific Ins. Co. v. Am. Nat'l Fire Ins. Co., 148
F.3d 396, 403 (4th Cir. 1998)), cert. denied, 538
U.S. 1012 (2003). However, a Rule 59(e) motion “may not
be used to re-litigate old matters, or to raise arguments or
present evidence that could have been raised prior to the
entry of judgment.” Pacific Ins. Co., 148 F.3d
at 403 (quoting 11 Wright, et al., Federal Practice
and Procedure § 2810.1, at 127-28 (2d ed. 1995)).
“In general, ‘reconsideration of a judgment after
its entry is an extraordinary remedy which should be used
sparingly.'” Pacific Ins. Co., 148 F.3d at
403 (quoting Wright, et al., supra, §
2810.1, at 124).
contends that reconsideration is warranted “to correct
an error of law or prevent manifest injustice” because
the Court misapprehended her argument as to harm. In
its Memorandum Opinion granting summary judgment, the Court
found that IIVS owed a fiduciary duty to Damiano and that
Damiano had generated sufficient evidence from which a
factfinder could determine that IIVS' misrepresentations
regarding plan benefits were material. However, because
Damiano could not demonstrate that she was harmed by
IIVS' putative material misrepresentation, the Court
granted summary judgment to Defendant.
motion for reconsideration, Damiano specifically asserts that
the harm she suffered was “losing access to benefits
she expected.” ECF No. 47 at 2. Damiano over-simplifies
the requisite analysis. At the summary judgment stage, the
Court must determine, viewing the evidence most favorably to
the plaintiff, whether the plaintiff has generated sufficient
evidence to allow the claim to proceed to trial. Regardless
of the persuasiveness vel non of Plaintiff's
theory of harm, it will not survive if she cannot demonstrate
sufficient facts to establish the existence of an essential
element. “In such a situation, there can be ‘no
genuine issue as to any material fact,' since a complete
failure of proof concerning an essential element of the
nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other
facts immaterial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986).
harm, Plaintiff failed to sustain her burden viewing all
evidence most favorably to her. Plaintiff asserts, again, that
“[h]arm in this instance was the inability to secure
the disability benefits, ” ECF No. 47 at 4. But, as
detailed in the Memorandum Opinion for summary judgment,
Plaintiff “generated no facts to demonstrate how
IIVS' misrepresentations-as opposed to the shortcomings
in the application itself” led to denial of benefits.
ECF No. 45 at 9. The record evidence indisputably showed that
Damiano did not complete the benefits application which
prevented IIVS' claims administrator from determining
eligibility. Accordingly, because of Damiano's failure of
proof on this element, the Court granted summary judgment in
base, Damiano disagrees with the Court's prior ruling.
However, “mere disagreement does not support a Rule
59(e) motion.” U.S. ex rel. Becker, 305 F.3d
at 290 (quoting Hutchinson v. Staton, 994 F.2d 1076,
1082 (4th Cir.1993)). Because disagreement alone is
insufficient to warrant reversal of the Court's prior
decision, Damiano's motion is DENIED.