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Tyger v. Air Line Pilots Association

August 16, 2008

DANIEL TYGER, ET. AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
AIR LINE PILOTS ASSOCIATION, INTERNATIONAL, AND DUANE E. WOERTH AS PRESIDENT OF AIR LINE PILOTS ASSOCIATION, INTERNATIONAL, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dora L. Irizarry United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

DORA L. IRIZARRY, U.S. District Judge

Before the court is Defendants' joint motion for reconsideration of the court's Memorandum and Order dated March 7, 2007, conditionally granting Plaintiffs' motion to reopen and restore this action, pursuant to Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ("Rule 60(b)"). Defendants contend that (i) the court properly denied relief under Rule 60(b)(1) and (ii) that the court should reconsider its grant of relief under Rule 60(b)(6). Plaintiffs assert that this court's judgment restoring the instant action pursuant to Rule 60(b)(6) was proper. As set forth more fully below, Defendants' motion for reconsideration is granted due to Plaintiffs' failure to establish extraordinary circumstances. Moreover, consideration of the totality of circumstances of this case warrants the granting of Defendants' motion.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs, approximately ninety airline pilots, filed the instant action on January 7, 2004, alleging that Defendants deprived Plaintiffs of opportunities for career advancement. Defendants never filed an answer and Plaintiffs failed to take any further action in this case. On July 28, 2005, the court entered a Notice of Impending Dismissal for Failure to Prosecute, see Notice, Docket Entry No. 3, warning the Plaintiffs of dismissal absent any further action by August 18, 2005. Plaintiffs took no further action. Accordingly, on September 1, 2005, the court entered an order dismissing the action ("Dismissal Order"). See Dismissal Order, Docket Entry No. 4. Nearly one year later, on August 29, 2006, Plaintiffs filed a motion seeking to reopen the case pursuant to Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Defendants filed no opposition to Plaintiffs' motion.

On March 7, 2007, the court conditionally granted Plaintiffs' motion ("March 7, 2007 Order"). See generally March 7, 2007 Order, Docket Entry No. 7. The court denied Plaintiffs' motion to the extent that it sought relief from judgment for excusable neglect under Rule 60(b)(1), holding that Plaintiffs failed to establish excusable neglect. After balancing the equities of the case, however, the court conditionally granted Plaintiffs relief from judgment under the "catch-all" provision of Rule 60(b)(6). The court sanctioned Plaintiffs' attorney for his neglect and ordered him to pay a fine in the amount of $2,500.00 as a condition to restoring the case.

On March 26, 2007, thirteen business days after the court restored the case, Defendants requested a pre-motion conference for reconsideration of the March 7, 2007 Order. This request, even if construed as a motion for reconsideration, was untimely; however, due to new facts alleged in the request and in the interest of justice, the court permitted Defendants to move for reconsideration. Defendants alleged that they never received service of Plaintiffs' Rule 60(b) motion. Plaintiffs contend that they served Defendants; however, Plaintiffs failed to submit an affidavit of service. Without an affidavit of service, the court presumes Plaintiffs failed to serve Defendants. Additionally, Defendants asserted that they intended to answer the complaint; however, Plaintiffs informed them that Plaintiffs intended to file an amended complaint, thereby negating the need for an answer. Defendants provided the court with a letter memorializing this understanding.

See Vitale Decl. ¶ 3; Vitale Decl. Ex. 2.

DISCUSSION

I. Standards for Reconsideration

Motions for reconsideration or reargument are governed by Local Civil Rule 6.3 and are entrusted to the discretion of the court. See McCarthy v. Manson, 714 F.2d 234, 237 (2d Cir. 1983). "The standard for granting [a motion for reconsideration or reargument] is strict, and reconsideration [or reargument] 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). In addition, the moving party must demonstrate that the factual matters or controlling precedent overlooked by the court "were presented to it on the underlying motion." In re N.Y. Comm. Bancorp, Inc., 04-CV-4165 (ADS)(AKT), 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47405, at *7 (E.D.N.Y. June 29, 2007) (citation omitted). Reconsideration or reargument is, furthermore, justified on the following grounds: "an intervening change of controlling law, the availability of new evidence, or the need to correct a clear error or prevent manifest injustice." Virgin Atl. Airways, Ltd. v. Nat'l Mediation Bd., 956 F.2d 1245, 1255 (2d Cir. 1992).

A court's reconsideration of an earlier order is an "extraordinary remedy to be employed sparingly in the interests of finality and conservation of scarce judicial resources." In re Health Mgt. Sys., Inc. Sec. Litig., 113 F. Supp. 2d 613, 614 (S.D.N.Y. 2000). Accordingly, reconsideration or reargument motions should not be granted when the moving party seeks solely to re-litigate an issue already decided. In re Houbigant, Inc., 914 F. Supp. 997, 1001 (S.D.N.Y. 1996) (finding that a Rule 6.3 motion is "not a motion to reargue those issues already considered when a party does not like the way the original motion was resolved").

II. Application

Plaintiffs sought relief from judgment under subsections one and six of Rule 60(b). In the March 7, 2007 Order, this court denied Plaintiffs' motion to the extent it sought relief under Rule 60(b)(1) for excusable neglect. Their attorney's persistent delays and failures fall outside the scope of what is said to be excusable neglect. Upon due consideration of the equities of this case, however, the court granted relief from judgment under Rule 60(b)(6), the "catch-all" provision. The court noted that the inactivity of both Plaintiffs and Defendants led to dismissal, that Defendants had incurred minimal expenses in litigating the case, and that the hardship Plaintiffs would suffer tipped the scales in favor of granting relief ...


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