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Ali Ghadersohi v. Health Research

September 16, 2011


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



On February 29, 2009, the parties filed a Stipulation discontinuing this action with prejudice (Docket No. 45), stating that they had reached a settlement, the terms of which were set forth in a separate Confidential Settlement Agreement ("the Agreement"). The Court "So Ordered" the stipulation on February 13, 2009, and directed the Clerk of the Court to close the case. (Docket No. 48.) On March 11, 2009, Plaintiff moved to enforce the Agreement, alleging a breach by Defendant Roswell Park Cancer Institute ("RPCI"). (Docket No. 52.) The motion was denied on August 10, 2009. (Docket No. 62.)

There are four additional motions now pending, two of which relate to this Court's Decision on Plaintiff's motion to enforce. RPCI has moved for its attorneys' fees incurred in opposing the motion (Docket No. 68), and Plaintiff has moved for reconsideration of the Court's decision on the motion. (Docket No. 69). Plaintiff also has filed two motions alleging that RCPI committed further breaches of the Agreement. (Docket Nos. 91, 96.) All motions are fully briefed and the Court finds oral argument is not necessary. For the reasons stated below, Plaintiff's motions are denied, and Defendant's motion is granted.


A. Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration

In his supporting declaration, Plaintiff contends that this Court, in its Decision and Order, "was not sure what I was asking for. I want the Court to Order defendants to live up to the agreement." (Docket No. 70 ¶ 2.) Plaintiff attaches various exhibits which he claims demonstrate the existence of a breach. To the extent the exhibits are dated, all predate Plaintiff's motion to enforce.*fn1

Motions for reconsideration are not recognized under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in haec verba. Where, as here, a motion for reconsideration is filed no later than 10 days*fn2 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, 554 U.S. 471, 485 n.5, 128 S. Ct. 2605, 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)).

Plaintiff does not point to an intervening change of law, nor has he offered previously unavailable evidence or identified controlling law that the Court overlooked. His sole basis for seeking reconsideration is his belief that this Court did not understand that he was seeking enforcement of the agreement-i.e., to direct Defendants to live up to their agreement.

As is fully discussed in the underlying decision, while Plaintiff was not clear in his "Motion Breach the Confidential Agreement" (Docket No. 52) whether he wished to reopen the underlying action or to enforce the Agreement, this Court ultimately concluded that he was seeking enforcement and proceeded to analyze his evidence and arguments accordingly. So, even were this Court's alleged "misunderstanding" sufficient grounds for reconsideration-which it is not-Plaintiff's belief simply is incorrect. Therefore, the motion for reconsideration is denied.

B. Plaintiff's First Claim of a Further Breach

On October 22, 2009, Plaintiff filed a motion seeking damages for RCPI's alleged breach of the Agreement's confidentiality provision on July 31, 2009. The circumstances are as follows.

On or about July 20, 1999, Plaintiff commenced an action in New York State Supreme Court, County of Erie, alleging a breach of the Agreement based on the same conduct as he alleged in this action in his "Motion Breach the Confidential Agreement" (Docket No. 52). Plaintiff attached to his state court complaint numerous exhibits, including a copy of the Agreement. Plaintiff also filed an Order to Show Cause ...

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