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Rafael Bild v. Michael Konig and Abraham Weider

April 25, 2011

RAFAEL BILD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL KONIG AND ABRAHAM WEIDER, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ross, J.

NOT FOR ELECTRONIC OR PRINT PUBLICATION OPINION & ORDER

Plaintiff Rafael Bild ("Bild" or "plaintiff") commenced this action on December 21, 2009 against defendants Michael Konig ("Konig") and Abraham Weider ("Weider" and, together with Konig, "defendants"), invoking this court's diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332, and asserting New York state law claims of breach of contract. Plaintiff amended his Complaint on May 27, 2010. On February 14, 2011, this court issued an Opinion & Order ("February 14th Order") which denied Weider's motion to dismiss plaintiff's claims as barred by the statute of limitations, and granted Konig's motion to dismiss plaintiff's third party beneficiary claim. On February 28, 2011, plaintiff moved for reconsideration of the February 14th Order pursuant to Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Local Rule 6.3. For the following reasons, plaintiff's motion for reconsideration is granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND

The court presumes familiarity with the underlying factual background. The court directs the parties to the statement of factual allegations in its February 14th Order. Dkt No. 69 at 1-4.

On February 28, 2011, plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration pursuant to Rule 59(e) with this court. In that motion, plaintiff asks the court to reconsider its rulings that (i) plaintiff is not a third-party beneficiary under the agreement entered into between Weider and Konig on March 29, 2007 ("March Agreement") and (ii) the March Agreement did not constitute a valid acknowledgement restarting the statute of limitations for plaintiff's claims against Weider pursuant to Section 17-101 of the New York General Obligations Law ("Section 17-101").

For the reasons set forth below, plaintiff's motion is granted in part and denied in part. The court finds that plaintiff has sufficiently alleged a third-party-beneficiary claim against Konig. The court, however, rejects plaintiff's claim that the March Agreement constituted a valid acknowledgment pursuant to Section 17-101.

DISCUSSION

I. Legal Standard

Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Local Rule 6.3 govern motions to

"alter or amend a judgment." Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e). Courts have recognized three major grounds justifying reconsideration pursuant to Rule 59(e): "an intervening change of controlling law, the availability of new evidence, or the need to correct a clear error or prevent manifest injustice." Virgin Atlantic Airways, Ltd. v. Nat'l Mediation Bd., 956 F.2d 1245, 1255 (2d Cir. 1992) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). "The standard for granting such a motion 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." Rafter v. Liddle, No. 07-2282-cv, 2008 WL 3842709, at *1 (2d Cir. Aug. 13, 2008) (quoting Shrader v. CSX Transp., Inc., 70 F.3d 255, 257 (2d Cir.1995)). However, a Rule 59(e) and "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.'" Johnson v. Bartlett, No. 96 CIV. 6941, 1999 WL 2872, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Jan.4, 1999) (quoting In re Houbigat, Inc., 914 F.Supp. 997, 1001 (S.D.N.Y. 1996)).

II. Plaintiff's Third-Party-Beneficiary Claim

Under New York law, a party asserting rights as a third-party beneficiary must establish that "(1) a valid and binding contract existed, (2) the contract was intended for the plaintiff[']s benefit, and (3) the benefit to the plaintiff is immediate (rather than incidental), indicating that the contracting parties intended to compensate the plaintiff." ACE Chrome Corp. v. IBEX Const., LLC, No. 08 Civ. 10401, 2009 WL 2482136, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 13, 2009). The "parties' intent to benefit the third party must be apparent from the face of the contract . . . [and]

[a]bsent clear contractual language evincing such intent, New York courts have demonstrated a reluctance to construe such an intent." LaSalle Nat'l Bank v. Ernst & Young LLP, 285 A.D.2d 101, 729 N.Y.S.2d 671, 676 (N.Y. App. Div. 2001) (citations omitted).

In its February 14 Order, this court held that because "the language of the March Agreement, taken as a whole, does not evidence an intent on the part of Defendants to benefit Plaintiff, he is not a third-party beneficiary thereunder." Dkt. No. 69 at 17. The court found that the March Agreement contained several provisions indicating that defendants intended that the agreement define the scope of their arbitration proceedings. Id. at 16-17. But the court found that defendants did not intend ...


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