United States District Court, Southern District of New York
June 12, 2003
MUZE, INC., PLAINTIFF,
DIGITAL ON-DEMAND, INC., DEFENDANT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Laura Taylor Swain, District Judge
By order dated April 16, 2001, this action was discontinued with prejudice and without costs to either party (herein the "Original Order of Discontinuance"). The Original Order of Discontinuance further stated that if a settlement was not finalized by May 4, 2001, the case would be reinstated upon the application of any party. Following this order, the Court granted counsels' requests for extensions of the Original Order of Discontinuance because settlement negotiations were continuing. A final order was signed by the Court on January 16, 2002, extending the Original Order of Discontinuance until January 31, 2002. The January 16, 2002 order provided that "no further extensions" would be granted. Then, by letter dated February 6, 2002, Plaintiff's counsel wrote to the Court that "[m]indful of the Court's determination that there should be no further extension of the [Original] Order of Discontinuance . . . [Plaintiff] respectfully request[s] that the matter be returned to the active docket in order to preserve Muze's claims pending the closing." The Court never ruled on the request. On March 27, 2003, Plaintiff applied to the Court to reinstate the instant litigation. By memorandum endorsement dated April 2, 2003, the Court denied Plaintiff's application to reinstate, writing "[t]he foregoing untimely application for relief from the with-prejudice dismissal provision of the Court's April 17, 2001 order (as extended) is denied."
On April 14, 2003, Plaintiff filed, pursuant to Rule 6.3 of the Local Civil Rule for the Southern District of New York and Rule 41(b) of the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure, a motion for reconsideration and reargument of its application to reinstate the action due to the parties' inability to complete the settlement of this action by January 31, 2002 and to substitute the firm of Moses & Singer LLP as attorneys for Muze, Inc. On May 2, 2003, Plaintiff filed a notice of appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.*fn1
As Plaintiff's application, if granted, would constitute an alteration of the Court's ruling, Plaintiff's Rule 6.3 motion will be construed as a motion pursuant Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See United States ex rel. McAllan v. City of New York, 248 F.3d 48, 52 (2d Cir. 2001) (a postjudgment motion requesting alteration or amendment of the judgment but denominated as something other than a motion under Rule governing amendment of judgments is generally treated as having been made under that Rule). Pursuant to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a)(4)(B)(i), the appeal will be held in abeyance until the Rule 59(e) motion is decided, at which point the previously filed Notice of Appeal will return jurisdiction to the circuit court. See Fed.R.App.P. 4(a)(4)(B)(i); Lichtenberg v. Besicorp Group, Inc., 204 F.3d 397, 400 (2d Cir. 2000); Jones v. J.R. O'Keefe, No. 99 Civ. 12279 (RCC), 2000 WL 1804153, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 7, 2000).
A motion for reconsideration or reargument is appropriate when the court has overlooked "controlling decisions or factual matters that were put before it on the underlying motion . . . and which, had they been considered, might have reasonably altered the result before the court." Range Road Music, Inc. v. Music Sales Corp., 90 F. Supp.2d 390, 392 (S.D.N.Y. 2000) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Alternatively, a motion for reconsideration or reargument may be granted to "correct a clear error or prevent manifest injustice." Griffin Indus., Inc. v. Petrojam, Ltd., 72 F. Supp.2d 365, 368 (S.D.N.Y. 1999) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Rule 59(e) allows the district court to alter or amend the judgment, but is not intended to allow a party "`to relitigate old matters, or to raise arguments or present evidence that could have been raised prior to the entry of judgment.'" Supreme Oil Co. v. MTA, No. 96 Civ. 5169 (DLC), 1997 WL 715735 at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 12, 1997), (quoting 11 Charles A. Wright, et al., Federal Practice & Procedure § 2810.1, at 127-28 (1995)), aff'd, 157 F.3d 148 (2d Cir. 1998), cert. denied, 528 U.S. 868 (1999). "The `narrow aim' of Rule 59(e) is `to mak[e] clear that the district court possesses the power' to rectify its own mistakes in the period immediately following the entry of judgment." Greene v. Town of Blooming Grove, 935 F.2d 507, 512 (2d Cir. 1991) (citation omitted). The standard for granting a Rule 59(e) motion is strict and reconsideration is generally denied as a Rule 59(e) motion is not a vehicle for reargument or "`asserting arguments that could and should have been made before judgment issued.'" Katz v. Berisford Int'l PLC, No. 96 Civ. 8695, 2000 WL 1760965, at *5 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 30, 2000) (citation omitted). The decision whether to grant the motion or not lies within the sound discretion of the district court. See Dellefave v. Access Temporaries, Inc., No. 99 Civ. 6098 (RWS), 2001 WL 286771, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. March 22, 2001).
Here, Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate that this Court committed a manifest error of law in entering its order or that the Court overlooked a factual or legal matter that would have changed its decision to deny the March 27, 2003 application. The Original Order of Discontinuance signed by this Court on April 16, 2001 plainly stated that, if settlement was not finalized by May 4, 2001, the case would be reinstated upon request submitted by any date prior to that date. This meaning attached to the extensions of time granted by the Court. The final order extending the Original Order of Discontinuance gave parties until January 31, 2002 to settle the matter, with plain language providing that no further extension would be granted. In its March 27, 2003 application for reinstatement, Plaintiff argued principally that the Court's January 16, 2002 order had not set any deadline for an application to reinstate the case. Plaintiff did not argue that its February 6, 2002 letter was relevant to the timeliness of the its application. In any event, Plaintiff's February 6, 2002 application, like Plaintiff's March 27, 2003 application, was itself untimely. Thus, Plaintiff has not presented any new facts, or any overlooked factual or legal argument, that would alter the Court's decision to deny the March 27, 2003 application. The Court has carefully considered Plaintiff's application and has found nothing in the prior record or in Plaintiff's post-judgment submissions to justify the relief Plaintiff requests.
Finally, Plaintiff has not demonstrated that reconsideration is necessary to prevent manifest injustice. Plaintiff's argument that the Court's refusal to reinstate the matter constitutes a Rule 41(b) involuntary dismissal is groundless. Accordingly, it is hereby ordered that Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration is denied in its entirety.