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Hinterberger v. Catholic Health

November 17, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: William M. Skretny United States District Judge



On November 25, 2008, this Court issued a Decision and Order (Docket No. 147, hereafter, "Decision"), granting in part, and denying in part, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. Presently before this Court are Defendants' Motion for Partial Reconsideration*fn1 (Docket No. 149), and Plaintiffs' Motion for Reconsideration (Docket No. 152).*fn2 For the reasons discussed below, Defendants' Motion is granted in part and denied in part, and Plaintiffs' Motion is granted in part and denied in part.


Plaintiffs commenced this action by filing a Complaint in the United States District Court for the Western District of New York on May 22, 2008, alleging, inter alia, that Defendants (collectively, "Catholic Health") violated the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") and the New York Labor Law ("NYLL") by failing to pay hourly employees for all hours worked, including overtime for hours worked over 40 per week. In particular, Plaintiffs claim Catholic Health failed to pay them for time worked during meal breaks, before and after their scheduled shifts, and for attendance at compensable training sessions.

On July 1, 2008, Catholic Health moved to dismiss the complaint in its entirety pursuant to Rules 8 and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Docket No. 86.) Plaintiffs subsequently withdrew without prejudice all but three of their thirteen causes of action, leaving the first (FLSA), second (NYLL), and thirteenth (estoppel) remaining. (Docket No. 101.) This Court, on November 25, 2008, declined to dismiss the FLSA claim, but granted partial dismissal of the NYLL claim. Specifically, the Court found Plaintiffs' NYLL claim preempted by section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA") to the extent it seeks recovery for unpaid preliminary and postliminary work and unpaid training time. Dismissal was denied to the extent the NYLL claim seeks recovery for unpaid work during meal periods.*fn3

Both parties moved for reconsideration. Catholic Health contends this Court committed legal error when it concluded the NYLL claim relating to work allegedly performed during meal breaks is not preempted by the LMRA. It urges that section 162 of the NYLL, cited by the Court, does not provide a private cause of action, and even if Plaintiffs do have an independent statutory right to recovery, the Court erred in its application of the preemption analysis. Plaintiffs, on the other hand, contend that the Court committed legal error in holding that claims for preliminary and postliminary work and compensatory training time are preempted by the LMRA. They urge that the NYLL does provide a statutory right to compensation for such work and that the Court erred in concluding those aspects of the NYLL claim are preempted.


A. The Motions for Reconsideration

1. Standard of Review

Motions for reconsideration are not recognized under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in haec verba. Catholic Health cites to Rules 59(e) and 60(b) as the basis for its motion, and Plaintiffs cite generally to Rules 59 and 60. Where, as here, a motion for reconsideration is filed no later than 10 days after the challenged order or entry of judgment, courts ordinarily treat the motion as brought under Rule 59(e). See, e.g., Constellation Brands, Inc. v. Arbor Hill Assocs., Inc., No. 02 Civ. 6498 CJS, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20264, at *5-6 (W.D.N.Y. Mar. 14, 2008).

Alteration of a court's judgment pursuant to Rule 59(e) is an "extraordinary remedy to be employed sparingly in the interests of finality and conservation of scarce judicial resources." USA Certified Merchants, LLC v. Koebel, 273 F. Supp. 2d 501, 503 (S.D.N.Y. 2003) (citations omitted). "A court is justified in reconsidering its previous ruling if: (1) there is an intervening change in the controlling law; (2) new evidence not previously available comes to light; or (3) it becomes necessary to remedy a clear error of law or to prevent obvious injustice." Nnebe v. Daus, No. 06 Civ. 4991 KMK, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58611, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 7, 2006) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

The standard for granting a Rule 59(e) motion is strict, and reconsideration is generally denied as Rule 59(e) "motions are not a vehicle for re-litigating old issues, presenting the case under new theories, securing a rehearing on the merits, or otherwise taking a second bite of the apple." Celeste v. East Meadow Union Free Sch. Dist., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61099, at *3 (E.D.N.Y. Aug. 5, 2008) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted); see also, Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker, ___ U.S. ___, 128 S.Ct. 2605, 2617 n.5, 171 L.Ed. 2d 570 (2008) (Rule 59(e) "may not be used to relitigate old matters, or to raise arguments or present evidence that could have been raised prior to the entry of judgment" (citation omitted)).

A decision to grant or deny a Rule 59(e) motion is within the sound discretion of the court, and the motion should be granted only when the moving party can demonstrate that the Court overlooked controlling decisions or factual matters that were put before it on the underlying motion and which, had they been considered, would have changed its decision. Atlantic Cas. Ins. Co. v. Joney Const. Corp., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54151, at *3-4 (E.D.N.Y. July 12, 2008) (citations omitted); see also, North River Ins. Co. v. Philadelphia Reinsurance Corp., 63 F.3d 160, 165 (2nd Cir. 1995), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 1184, 116 S.Ct. 1289, 134 L.Ed. 2d 233 (1996) ("A court should be 'loath' to revisit an ...

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