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KNOLL v. EQUINOX FITNESS CLUBS

March 9, 2004.

MONICA KNOLL, Plaintiff, -against- EQUINOX FITNESS CLUBS n/k/a EQUINOX HOLDINGS, INC., EQUINOX WELLNESS CENTER INC., HARVEY J. SPEVAK, and THE EQUINOX HEALTH AND WELFARE PLAN, Defendants


The opinion of the court was delivered by: SHIRA SCHEINDLIN, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff seeks reconsideration of this Court's December 22, 2003 Opinion and Order dismissing her case in its entirety. See Knoll v. Equinox Fitness Clubs, No. 02 Civ. 9120, 2003 WL 23018807, at *9 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 22, 2003). Plaintiff argues that her fraudulent inducement claim was erroneously dismissed as a matter of law and that this Court overlooked facts favoring plaintiff and construed disputed facts in defendants' favor with regard to her repudiation claim. Plaintiff also argues that the Court erred in dismissing her Fourth and Fifth Claims. For the following reasons, plaintiff's motion is granted in part and denied in part. I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

  Motions for reconsideration are governed by Local Civil Rule 6.3 and are committed to the sound discretion of the Page 2 district court. See AT&T Corp. v. Microsoft, No. 01 Civ. 4872, 2004 WL 309150, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 19, 2004). Reconsideration is an "extraordinary remedy to be employed sparingly in the interests of finality and conservation of scarce judicial resources." In re Health Mgmt. Sys., Inc. Sec. Litig., 113 F. Supp.2d 613, 614 (S.D.N.Y. 2000) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). See also Range Road Music, Inc. v. Music Sales Corp., 90 F. Supp.2d 390, 392 (S.D.N.Y. 2000) ("The . . . limitation on motions for reconsideration is 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.") (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

  Under Local Civil Rule 6.3, "the moving party must demonstrate controlling law or factual matters put before the court on the underlying motion that the movant believes the court overlooked and that might reasonably be expected to alter the court's decision." Montanile v. National Broad. Co., 216 F. Supp.2d 341, 342 (S.D.N.Y. 2002), aff'd, 2003 WL 328825 (2d Cir. Feb. 13, 2003) (unpublished). The standard for granting a motion for reconsideration is strict so as to prevent repetitive arguments on issues that have been thoroughly considered by the court. See In re Houbigant, Inc., 914 F. Supp. 997, 1001 (S.D.N.Y. 1996). Page 3

  A motion for reconsideration is not a substitute for appeal. See RMED Int'l, Inc. v. Sloan's Supermarkets, Inc., 207 F. Supp.2d 292, 296 (S.D.N.Y. 2002). Nor is it a vehicle "to reargue those issues already considered when a party does not like the way the original motion was resolved." In re Houbigant, Inc., 914 F. Supp. at 1001. Accordingly, the moving party may not "advance new facts, issues or arguments not previously presented to the Court." Morse/Diesel, Inc. v. Fidelity and Deposit Co. of Maryland, 768 F. Supp. 115, 116 (S.D.N.Y. 1991).

 II. DISCUSSION

  A. Plaintiff's Fraudulent Inducement Claim

  Plaintiff argues that the Court overlooked facts and law concerning the validity and enforceability of the Release. Specifically, plaintiff claims that defendants failed to provide her with timely notice under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act ("COBRA") and affirmatively misled her concerning her COBRA rights. See Plaintiff's Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion for Reconsideration ("Pl. Rec. Mem.") at 8 ("The uncontroverted evidence in this case indicates that the Benefits Administrator, a `fiduciay' under ERISA, misled Plaintiff to believe she would have no health insurance at all if she did not sign the release. Specifically, `the Benefits Administrator told [her] that she only had 30 days to get COBRA.'"). Page 4

  In particular, plaintiff claims that this Court overlooked controlling law holding that when the employer and the plan administrator are the same person, the required notice must be made within fourteen days of termination. Plaintiff also claims that this Court overlooked facts contained in plaintiff's declaration where she claims she was affirmatively misled by defendants as to her COBRA rights.

  1. Affirmative Misrepresentation

  While it may be true that defendants failed to timely provide plaintiff with the required COBRA notice, the claim that plaintiff was misled by the Benefits Administrator is supported only by plaintiff's declaration which was submitted after she was deposed. See 8/22/03 Declaration of Monica Knoll Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1746 ("Knoll Decl.") ¶ 11 ("After I was terminated, the Benefits Administrator at Equinox told me that I only had 30 days to get COBRA. I asked for information about COBRA, but I never received anything in response.").

  The following deposition testimony, cited by plaintiff as further evidence of an affirmative misrepresentation by Equinox, indicates only a mistaken belief on plaintiff's part:
Q: Do you know how long you waited between executing the release and the time that you first received it?
  A: I know there was an e-mail that Kathy — I had sent to Kathy dated October that I think I sent her in mid October saying that, at that time, I still hadn't Page 5 received anything on COBRA. So it had to have been after the 12th, and I just, you know, I just know there was some back and forth on the corrections, but we got closer and closer to the date of November 1, and in my understanding, I just thought that there was 30 days to COBRA. . . . I thought that there was no time to even have the conversation, and it was November 1. I had —
 
Q: Was your concern that you wouldn't be eligible for COBRA or that you wouldn't have the money to pay for it?
A: I was concerned that I wouldn't have insurance after — on November 1 without signing this.
Q: Because —
A: That I missed the 30-day mark or something. I felt that if I didn't sign this, then I wouldn't have insurance, . . .
3/13/03 Deposition of Monica Knoll ("Knoll Dep.") at 152-54 (emphasis added).
 
Q: Did you have any concern that you wouldn't be able to avail yourself of COBRA if you didn't sign this?
A: Yes.
Q: Because you wouldn't be able to pay for it or because you wouldn't be —
A: Both.
Q: When you say both, what do you mean? I think you are reading my mind here.
A: I thought that if I was — if I didn't sign this ...

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