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ACKOFF-ORTEGA v. WINDSWEPT PACIFIC ENTERTAINMENT

December 11, 2000

SUSAN ACKOFF-ORTEGA, CELE ACKOFF, AND JON ACKOFF, PLAINTIFFS,
V.
WINDSWEPT PACIFIC ENTERTAINMENT CO. (INC.), EMI VIRGIN MUSIC, INC., AND RICHARD ROSENBLATT, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Scheindlin, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM ORDER

On December 1, 1999, Susan Ackoff-Ortega, Cele Ackoff, and Jon Ackoff (collectively "the Ackoffs") filed an action seeking a declaratory judgment that Ackoff-Ortega — not defendants — owns the share of the renewal copyright in "Mony, Mony" attributable to Robert Ackoff.*fn1 On October 11, 2000, this Court issued an Opinion and Order granting Windswept Pacific Entertainment Co. (Inc.) and EMI Virgin Music, Inc. (collectively "Windswept") judgment on the pleadings, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). The Court held that the general release (the "Release") Rosenblatt provided Windswept discharged plaintiffs' claims against Windswept, including their claim to Robert Ackoff's share of the renewal copyright in "Mony, Mony".*fn2 See Opinion at *9-*10. The Court also rejected plaintiffs' argument that the January 10, 1989 agreement (the "1989 Agreement") where Cele and Jon Ackoff assigned to Rosenblatt their expectancies of renewal copyrights in twenty-one of Robert Ackoffs songs, including "Mony, Mony", was unconscionable. The Court held that any unconscionabiity claim was time-barred because New York's six-year statute of limitations began to run at the execution of the 1989 Agreement. See id. at *11.

Plaintiffs now seek reconsideration of the Opinion, pursuant to Rule 6.3 of the Local Civil Rules for the United States District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York ("Local Rule 6.3"), and move the Court to alter and amend its final judgment entered on October 13, 2000, pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 59(e) and 60(b). Similarly, defendant Rosenblatt seeks reconsideration of the Opinion, pursuant to Local Rule 6.3, and moves the Court to amend its final judgment, pursuant to Rule 59(e).*fn3 While reconsideration is granted to both movants, with one exception, the Court adheres to its prior ruling.

I. LEGAL STANDARD

"The standard for granting . . . a motion [for reconsideration] is strict, and reconsideration will generally be denied unless the moving party can point to controlling decisions or data that the court overlooked — matters, in other words, that might reasonably be expected to alter the conclusion reached by the court." Shrader v. CSX Transp., Inc., 70 F.3d 255, 257 (2d Cir. 1995). "Because the motion does not afford the losing party the right to submit new evidence to bolster relief, parties are not to submit affidavits in support of a [Local] Rule 6.3 motion for reconsideration `unless directed by the court.'" First Fin. Ins. Co. v. Allstate Interior Demolition Corp., No. 96 Civ. 8243, 1998 WL 567900, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 3, 1998). "Motions for reconsideration must be narrowly construed and the standard strictly applied `to discourage litigants from making repetitive arguments on issues that have been thoroughly considered by the court,' `to ensure finality,' and `to prevent the practice of a losing party examining a decision and then plugging the gaps of the lost motion with additional matters.'" Polar Int'l Brokerage Corp. v. Reeve, No. 98 Civ. 6915, 2000 WL 1341599, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 19, 2000) (quoting Range Road Music Inc. v. Music Sales Corp., 90 F. Supp.2d 390, 392 (S.D.N.Y. 2000)); see also Shrader, 70 F.3d at 257 ("[A] motion to reconsider should not be granted where the moving party seeks soley to religitate an issue already decided.").*fn4

II. FACTS

The pertinent facts were discussed extensively in the Court's prior opinions, and will not be repeated here. See Opinion, 2000 WL 1509993, at *1-*5; Ackoff-Ortega v. Windswept Pac. Entm't Co., 98 F. Supp.2d 530, 531-33 (S.D.N.Y. 2000). Familiarity with those opinions is assumed.

III. DISCUSSION

Collectively, plaintiffs and Rosenblatt advance four arguments in support of their motions for reconsideration. First, Rosenblatt contends that the Court considered matters outside the pleadings in deciding the Rule 12(c) motion. See Rosenblatt's Memorandum in Support of Reargument/Reconsideration under Local Civil Rule 6.3 Respecting the Opinion and Order of this Court, Docketed October 11, 2000 ("Rosenblatt Mem.") at 2. Accordingly, he argues that the Court should have treated the Rule 12(c) motion as a motion for summary judgment under Rule 56, and provided the parties reasonable opportunity to present all pertinent material. See id.; see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). Second, plaintiffs and Rosenblatt maintain that the Court overlooked evidence extrinsic to the Release that demonstrates that the Release did not include Rosenblatt's claim to Robert Ackoffs share of the renewal copyright in "Mony, Mony". See Plaintiffs' Memorandum in Support of Motion for Reconsideration ("Pl. Mem.") at 2-3; Rosenblatt Mem. at 4-8. Third, plaintiffs contend that the Court erred in its conclusion that their unconscionability claim is time-barred. See Pl. Mem. at 3-4. Fourth, Rosenblatt argues that footnote 15 of the Opinion — where the Court stated that the 1989 Agreement was canceled by Rosenblatt in 1998 — is inaccurate. See Rosenblatt Mem. at 9.*fn5

A. Consideration of Matters Outside the Pleadings

Rosenblatt argues that Windswept's motion for judgment on the pleadings should have been treated as a summary judgment motion because the Court relied on three documents outside the pleadings: (1) a document that Rosenblatt executed assigning him Cele Ackoff's renewal copyright in "Mony, Mony" ("the 1997 Transfer Document"); (2) the transcript of Justice Schlesinger's February 23, 2000 oral decision holding that the Ackoffs' unconscionability claim is not time-barred;*fn6 and (3) the Ackoffs' memoranda of law, submitted in the 1998 State Suit, which argue that the unconscionability claim is not time-barred. See Rosenblatt Mem. at 2.

With respect to the 1997 Transfer Document, the Opinion explained that the Amended Complaint necessarily incorporated this document because it referenced Rosenblatt's June 23, 1998 cancellation of Cele Ackoff's assignment to Rosenblatt of her renewal copyright in "Mony, Mony", a cancellation which was handwritten on the side of the 1997 Transfer Document. See Opinion at *2 n. 5. Plaintiffs therefore had notice of the 1997 Transfer Document and it can properly be considered part of the pleadings. See Rothman v. Gregor, 220 F.3d 81, 88-89 (2d Cir. 2000) (pleadings include "documents that the plaintiffs either possessed or knew about and upon which they relied in bringing the suit") (citing Cortec Indus., Inc. v. Sum Holding, L.P., 949 F.2d 42, 48 (2d Cir. 1991)).

Rosenblatt and the Ackoffs also had notice of the transcript of Justice Schlesinger's oral decision and the Ackoffs' memoranda of law. Indeed, Rosenblatt and the Ackoffs were parties to the 1998 State Suit.*fn7 Moreover, although a court must limit itself to the pleadings when considering a Rule 12(c) motion, it "may also consider matters of which judicial notice may be taken under Fed.R.Evid. 201." Kramer v. Time Warner Inc., 937 F.2d 767, 773 (2d Cir. 1991). Because these documents are "capable of accurate and ready determination by resort to sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned," Fed.R.Evid. 201(b)(2), this Court was permitted to take judicial notice of Justice Schlesinger's oral decision and the Ackoffs' memoranda of law. See Kramer, 937 F.2d at 774 ("[C]ourts routinely take judicial notice of documents filed in other courts, again not for the truth of the matters ...


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