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In re J.P. Morgan Chase Cash Balance Litigation

July 31, 2007

IN RE J.P. MORGAN CHASE CASH BALANCE LITIGATION


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Harold Baer, Jr., District Judge

THIS DOCUMENT RELATES TO: OPINION & ORDER

All Actions

Plaintiffs, former employees of JPMorgan Chase & Co. ("JPMC") and its various Predecessor Plans, allege various ERISA violations against JPMC and JPMC's Director of Human Resources (collectively "Defendants"). On May 30, 2007, the Court issued an Opinion and Order ("May 30th Order" or the "Order") granting in part and denying in part Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification. I granted clearly and unequivocally Plaintiffs' notice claims that stemmed from the JPMC Plan as of January 1, 1989, and equally clearly, denied class claims to Aldoroty and Schomaker and all those similarly situated that had taken lump sum benefits on their retirement. I found that they lacked standing to bring this action under ERISA.

On June 14, 2007, pursuant to Local Rule 6.3 and Rule 54(b), Plaintiffs filed this motion for certification and because they failed to understand my May 30th Order that persons who took a lump sum distribution after this action was commenced on January 31, 2006, and those that will thereafter, are excluded from the class. Plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration reiterates essentially the same arguments they have made time and time again-the same points this Court has thoroughly considered and found wanting. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiffs' motions for reconsideration and certification are DENIED.

I. BACKGROUND

The facts of this case, including the terms of the Plan at issue, are set forth in detail in my October 30, 2006 Opinion & Order as well as my May 30, 2007 Opinion & Order, familiarity with which is presumed. See In re J.P. Morgan Cash Balance Litigation, 460 F.Supp.2d 479 (S.D.N.Y. 2006); In re J.P. Morgan Chase Cash Balance Litig., No. 06-Civ.-0732, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38766 (S.D.N.Y. May 30, 2007).

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

"Motions for reconsideration are intended to bring to the Court's attention matters that it overlooked, not to examin[e] a decision and then plug[] the gaps of a lost motion with additional matters. . .[a] party seeking reconsideration is not supposed to treat the court's initial decision as the opening of a dialogue in which that party may then use such a motion to advance new theories or adduce new evidence in response to the court's rulings." In re Rezulin Prods. Liab. Litig., 224 F.R.D. 346, 349 (S.D.N.Y. 2004) (internal quotation and citation omitted); In re Health Mgmt. Sys., Sec. Litig., 113 F. Supp. 2d 613, 614 (S.D.N.Y. 2000) (noting that reconsideration is an "extraordinary remedy to be employed sparingly in the interests of finality and conservation of scarce judicial resources."). The purpose of Local Civil Rule 6.3,*fn1 which governs Plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration, is to ensure the finality of decisions. Accordingly, relief is only available to the extent that the Court overlooked controlling law or factual matters that were put before it, or alternatively, where the movant demonstrates a clear error or to prevent manifest injustice. Sequa Corp. v. GBJ Corp., 156 F.3d 136, 144 (2d Cir. 1998).

A court must narrowly construe and strictly apply Local Rule 6.3 "so as to avoid duplicative rulings on previously considered issues and to prevent the Rule from being used as a substitute for appealing a final judgment." Newman v. RCN Telecom Servs., 448 F. Supp. 2d 556, 557 (S.D.N.Y. 2006).

Further, a partial adjudication pursuant to Rule 54(b)*fn2 requires Plaintiff to show "some danger of hardship or injustice through delay which would be alleviated by immediate appeal." Grand River Enters. Six Nations, Ltd. v. Pryor, 425 F.3d 158, 165 (2d Cir. 2005) ("Respect for the historic federal policy against piecemeal appeals requires that a Rule 54(b) certification not be granted routinely[, and] should be used only in the infrequent harsh case where there exists.") (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).

III. DISCUSSION

Plaintiffs contend that reconsideration is appropriate and indeed "critical" here because the status of the Lump Sum participants is unclear. Specifically, Plaintiffs claim that reconsideration is justified for three reasons -- (1) the Court overlooked the Second Circuit's "controlling" decision in Esden v. Bank of Boston, 229 F.3d 154 (2d Cir. 2000); (2) three cases decided after the May 30th Order and which Plaintiffs' allege supports their position, and (3) the Court misapplied the "zone of interest" test discussed in the May 30th Order. Unfortunately for Plaintiffs, this Court will not grant them a second bite at the apple.

a. Reconsideration Pursuant to Local Rule 6.3

Plaintiffs contend that the Court's May 30th Order is inconsistent with controlling law, particularly the Second Circuit's decision in Esden v. Bank of Boston, 229 F.3d 154 (2d Cir. 2000). The Court previously considered Esden and other cases in this Circuit and determined that while the Second Circuit has not yet decided the issue of participant standing with respect to persons who opted for lump sum payments, the cases in this Circuit support a determination that Aldoroty and Schomaker (and those similarly situated) are no longer ERISA "participants" eligible to receive a "benefit," and thus, lack standing to proceed. See May 30th Order, at 4-6; Coan v. Kaufman, 457 F.3d 250, 255-56 (2d Cir. 2006). Similarly, the Court's interpretation and application of the "zone of interests" ...


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