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Cheryl E. Farb and Harold R, Newman v. Baldwin Union Free

December 5, 2011

CHERYL E. FARB AND HAROLD R, NEWMAN, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
BALDWIN UNION FREE SCHOOL DISTRICT, BALDWIN UNION FREE SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD OF EDUCATION, JAMES BROWN IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS PRINCIPAL AND INDIVIDUALLY, ARLENE GUERRERO IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL AND INDIVIDUALLY, DR. KATHY WEISS IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS SUPERINTENDENT AND INDIVIDUALLY, AND DR. LEE CHAPMAN IN HIS FORMER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS DEPUTY SUPERINTENDENT AND INDIVIDUALLY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: E. Thomas Boyle United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Before the court is the motion by plaintiffs' former counsel, Thomas F. Liotti, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60, to vacate the Court's September 26, 2011 Memorandum Opinion and Order denying him attorney's fees for his earlier representation of plaintiffs. For the following reasons, Liotti's motion is denied in its entirety.

Familiarity with the facts of the underlying action is presumed and will not be repeated here.

Following an evidentiary hearing held on May 26, 2011, during which both plaintiffs and Liotti were afforded the opportunity to testify and submit evidence, the Court, by Memorandum Opinion and Order dated September 26, 2011, denied Liotti's motion for attorney's fees. Liotti thereafter filed the instant motion to vacate that decision. Plaintiffs have cross-moved for sanctions to be imposed against Liotti for filing a frivolous motion, pursuant to Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

DISCUSSION

I. Legal Standard

In the Second Circuit, motions to vacate a decision pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) are "generally not favored and [are] properly granted only upon a showing of exceptional circumstances."*fn1 Cyrus v. City of New York, No. 06 CV 4685, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2800, at *8 (E.D.N.Y. Jan. 12, 2010) (quoting United States v. Int'l Brotherhood of Teamsters, 247 F.3d 370, 391 (2d Cir. 2001)) (additional citations omitted); see also Kinlaw v. Walsh, No. 10 Civ. 7539, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129255, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 8, 2011) ("A Rule 60(b) motion is granted only under 'extraordinary circumstances,' or to prevent 'extreme and undue hardship.'"). "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." Cyrus, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2800, at *8 (quoting Shrader v. CSX Transp., Inc., 70 F.3d 255, 257 (2d Cir. 1995)). The burden of proof is on the party seeking to vacate the judgment and "the decision whether to grant a Rule 60(b) motion for reconsideration lies in the discretion of the district court." Cyrus, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2800, at *8 (citing Bennett v. Watson Wyatt & Co., 156 F. Supp. 2d 270, 272 (S.D.N.Y. 2001)).

"Rule 60(b) does not provide a party with the opportunity to relitigate the merits of a case in an attempt to win a point already carefully analyzed and justifiably disposed." Bernstein v. App. Div. First Dep't Disciplinary Comm., No. 07 Civ. 11196, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 132830, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 15, 2010) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Accordingly, "[i]t is not appropriate for a district court to vacate an order under Rule 60(b) where 'no additional claims are advanced,' and the movant[] 'simply argue[s] on the same facts that there are extraordinary circumstances justifying the exercise of the district court's equitable powers.'" Wells v. Lefavre, No. 96 Civ. 3417, 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16932, at *5-6 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 28, 1997) (quoting Cruickshank & Co. v. Dutchess Shipping Co., 805 F.2d 465, 469 (2d Cir. 1986)).

II. The Motion

Rule 60(b) permits a court to vacate a final judgment, order or proceeding for one of six enumerated reasons:

(1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise or excusable neglect;

(2) newly discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence, could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b);

(3) fraud (whether previously called intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or ...


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