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Robert L. Krug and Bonnie S. v. the City of Troy

December 10, 2010

ROBERT L. KRUG AND BONNIE S. KRUG, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
THE CITY OF TROY, ET AL. , DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thomas J. McAVOY, Senior United States District Judge

DECISION & ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Presently before the Court are: (1) Plaintiff Robert L. Krug's motion for reconsideration of various decisions that dismissed his claims, see Recon. Mot., dkt. # 214; and (2) Plaintiff Bonnie S. Krug's motion for a judgment as a matter of law or, in the alternative, a new trial. See Post-Trial Mot., dkt. # 219. Defendants have opposed the motions, see Resp. in Opp. to Recon. Mot., dkt. # 220; Resp. in Opp. to Post-Trial Mot., dkt. # 221, and Bonnie Krug filed a reply. See Reply, dkt. # 225. For the reasons that follow, both motions are denied.

II. BACKGROUND

The background of this case, up to the time of trial, was set forth in the Court's two prior decisions on Defendants' motions for summary judgment. See March 31, 2008 Decision & Order, dkt. # 148 reported at Krug v. County of Rennselaer, 559 F. Supp.2d 223 (N.D.N.Y. 2008); October 5, 2010 Decision and Order, dkt. # 206, reported at Krug v. County of Rennselaer, Slip Copy, 2010 WL 3937319 (N.D.N.Y., Oct. 5, 2010). Familiarity with these decisions is presumed.

On October 13, 2010, a jury trial commenced on Plaintiff Bonnie S. Krug's remaining claims of false arrest and illegal searches of her property. On October 14, 2010, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the remaining defendants (Troy Police Sergeant John Waters and the City of Troy), finding no cause of action on any claim.

III. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

(a) Motion for Reconsideration A motion for reconsideration is not a substitute for an appeal. "The standard for granting [a motion for reconsideration] is strict, and reconsideration 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); see also Friedman v. S.U.N.Y. at Binghamton, 2006 WL 2882980, at * 1 (N.D.N.Y. Oct. 5, 2006). "The high burden imposed on the moving party has been established in order to dissuade repetitive arguments on issues that have already been considered by the court and discourage litigants from making repetitive arguments on issues that have been thoroughly considered by the court [and] to ensure finality and prevent the practice of a losing party examining a decision and then plugging the gaps of the lost motion with additional matters." Nowacki v. Closson, 2001 WL 175239, *1 (N.D.N.Y. Jan. 24, 2001) (Munson, J.) (internal citations and quotations omitted). Reconsideration "is not a vehicle for relitigating old issues, presenting the case under new theories, securing a rehearing on the merits, or otherwise taking a 'second bite at the apple.'" Sequa Corp. v. GBJ Corp., 156 F.3d 136, 144 (2d Cir. 1998). Reargument is also not a vehicle to "advance new facts, issues or arguments not previously presented to the court." Polanco v. United States, 2000 WL 1346726, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Sept.19, 2000) (quoting Schrader, 70 F.2d at 256). "The Northern District of New York 'recognizes only three possible grounds upon which a motion for reconsideration may be granted: (1) an intervening change in controlling law, (2) the availability of new evidence not previously available, or (3) the need to correct clear error of law to prevent manifest injustice.'" Friedman, 2006 WL 2882980, at * 1 (quoting Nowacki, 2001 WL 175239, at *1).

Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration implicates both Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Northern District of New York Local Rule 7.1(g). *fn1 Plaintiff does not assert which of the subsections of Rule 60(b) he proceeds under although his arguments appear to be made under either Rule 60(b)(1) or the catch-all provision of Rule 60(b)(6). A motion under Rule 60(b)(1) must be made within one year after the judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(c)(1). A motion under Rule 60(b)(6) must be made within a reasonable time. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(c)(1). What is reasonable entails a balancing of the interest in finality with the reasons for the delay. Grace v. Bank Leumi Trust Co. of NY, 443 F.3d 180, 190 n.8 (2d Cir. 2006). "[A] Rule 60(b)(6) motion requires 'extraordinary circumstances,' which 'typically do not exist where the applicant fails to move for relief promptly.'" Id. (quoting 12 Moore's Federal Practice § 60.48[3][c] and Transaero, Inc. v. La Fuerza Area Boliviana, 24 F.3d 457, 462 (2d Cir. 1994)). Local Rule 7.1(g) provides that "[u]nless Fed. R. Civ. P. 60 otherwise governs, a party may file and serve a motion for reconsideration or reargument no later than FOURTEEN DAYS after the entry of the challenged judgment, order, or decree." N.D.N.Y.L.R. 7.1(g)(emphasis in original).

(b) Motion for Judgment As a Matter of Law (JMOL) "In this Circuit, a party seeking to vacate a jury verdict and enter judgment as a matter of law carries a 'heavy burden.'" Tesser v. Board of Educ. of City School Dist. of City of New York, 190 F. Supp.2d 430, 436 (E.D.N.Y. 2002)(citing Burke v. Spartanics Ltd., 252 F.3d 131, 136 (2d Cir. 2001); Ryduchowski v. Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, 203 F.3d 135, 142 (2d Cir. 2000)). "A motion for [JMOL] pursuant to F ED. R. C IV. P. 50, may not properly be granted unless: (1) there is such a complete absence of evidence supporting the verdict that the jury's findings could only have been the result of sheer surmise and conjecture, or (2) there is such an overwhelming amount of evidence in favor of the movant that reasonable and fair minded [persons] could not arrive at a verdict against [it]." Myers v. County of Orange, 157 F.3d 66, 73 (2d Cir. 1998)(internal quotations and citation omitted), cert. denied, 525 U.S. 1146 (1999).

"In ruling on a motion for JMOL, the trial court is required to consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the party against whom the motion was made and to give that party the benefit of all reasonable inferences that the jury might have drawn in his favor from the evidence. The court cannot assess the weight of conflicting evidence, pass on the credibility of the witnesses, or substitute its judgment for that of the jury." Tolbert v. Queens College, 242 F.3d 58, 70 (2d Cir. 2001) (citation omitted). In reviewing the evidence, the Court should consider everything in the record, however, "it must disregard all evidence favorable to the moving party that the jury is not required to believe . . . . That is, the court should give credence to the evidence favoring the non-movant as well as that evidence supporting the moving party that is uncontradicted and unimpeached, at least to the extent that that evidence comes from disinterested witnesses." Id. (citation omitted)(emphasis in original).

(c) Motion for New Trial Rule 59 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that "[a] new trial may be granted . . . for any of the reasons for which new trials have heretofore been granted in action at law in federal court." Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(a)(1)(A). The Second Circuit has interpreted this standard to permit the granting of new trials when "in the opinion of the district court, the jury has reached a seriously erroneous result or . . . the verdict is a miscarriage of justice." DLC Management Corp. v. Town of Hyde Park, 163 F.3d 124, 133 (2d Cir. 1998)(quotation marks and citation omitted); see Tesser v. Board of Educ. of City School Dist. of City of New York, 190 F. Supp.2d 430, 440 (E.D.N.Y. 2002). "A new trial may be granted, therefore, when the jury's verdict is against the weight of the evidence." DLC Management Corp., 163 F.3d at 133.

"Unlike judgment as a matter of law, a new trial may be granted even if there is substantial evidence supporting the jury's verdict. Moreover, a trial judge is free to weigh the evidence himself, and need not view it in the light most favorable to the verdict winner. A court considering a Rule 59 motion for a new trial must bear in mind, however, that the court should only grant such a motion when the jury's verdict is egregious." Id. (internal citations and quotations omitted). "[A] court should rarely disturb a jury's evaluation of a witness's credibility." Id. (internal citations and quotations omitted). Therefore, "[w]here the resolution of the issues depend[s] on assessment of the ...


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