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Ali Ghadersohi v. Health Research

October 18, 2011

ALI GHADERSOHI, PLAINTIFF,
v.
HEALTH RESEARCH, INC. AND ROSWELL PARK CANCER INSTITUTE,
DEFENDANTS.



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

DECISION AND ORDER AMENDED

I. INTRODUCTION

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 five additional motions now pending, three 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) and for reconsideration and relief from judgment (Docket No. 84). 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.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Plaintiff's Motions for Reconsideration and Relief from Judgment

1. The 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.

2. Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration and Relief from Judgment

In this motion, Plaintiff seeks relief under Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides for relief from a final judgment for six specified reasons. Plaintiff does not specify which of those reasons he relies on. Upon review, it appears Plaintiff's motion is predicated on Rule 60(b)(1) and/or (2). Rule 60(b)(1) provides district courts with discretion to relieve a party from a final judgment or order because of "mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect," including the district court's own mistake of fact. FED. R. CIV. P. 60(b)(1); see Johnson v. Univ. of Rochester Med. Ctr., 642 F.3d 121, 125 (2d Cir. 2011). Here, Plaintiff contends that the Court made a statement that is "not mentioned in the Agreement" and that a particular factual finding is incorrect. (Docket No. 84 ¶¶ 2, 7.) Having reviewed Plaintiff's specific complaints, I find no mistake of fact that would alter the prior decision on his motion to enforce.

Relief under 60(b)(2) is warranted when a party presents "newly discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence, could not have been discovered in time to move . . . under Rule 59(b)." FED. R. CIV. P. 60(b)(2). The Court will presume Plaintiff intended to move under this provision in light of his submission of 48 pages of exhibits. The documents consist of emails to and from Plaintiff, letters regarding his work, and documents that are a matter of public record. All predate the Court's decision on Plaintiff's motion to enforce. The movant who seeks to obtain relief from judgment under Rule 60(b)(2) must meet an "onerous standard" by showing that, inter alia, he was justifiably ignorant of those facts despite due diligence. United Srates v. Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters, 247 F.3d 370, 392 (2d Cir. 2001). Plaintiff has not attempted to make such a demonstration here. Accordingly, his Rule 60(b) motion for relief ...


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