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Patricia Lynch v. the Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation

April 12, 2013

PATRICIA LYNCH, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE SOUTHAMPTON ANIMAL SHELTER FOUNDATION, INC., SUSAN ALLEN, SUSAN KELLY, THE TOWN OF SOUTHAMPTON, AND DONALD BAMBRICK, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Before the court is defendants' motion for reconsideration of the Court's prior Memorandum Opinion and Order, dated January 7, 2013, in which it denied defendants' motion to certify plaintiff in civil contempt pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(e). For the following reasons, defendants' motion is granted and on reconsideration the Memorandum Opinion and Order is affirmed.

DISCUSSION

I. Legal Standard

Motions for reconsideration in this district are governed by Local Civil Rule 6.3 and are committed to the sound discretion of the district court. See Ehrlich v. Inc. Village of Sea Cliff, No. CV 04-4025, 2007 WL 1593241, at *1 (E.D.N.Y. June 1, 2007) ("A motion for reconsideration is within the sound discretion of the district court."); Hunt v. Enzo Biochem, Inc., No. 06 Civ. 170, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. May 7, 2007) ("Motions for reconsideration are governed by Local Civil Rule 6.3 and are committed to the sound discretion of the district court.").

"Reconsideration is an 'extraordinary remedy to be employed sparingly in the interests of finality and conservation of scarce judicial resources.'" Hunt, 2007 WL 1346652, at *1 (quoting In re Health Mgmt. Sys., Inc. Sec. Litig., 113 F. Supp. 2d 613, 614 (S.D.N.Y. 2000)). For this reason, Local Civil Rule 6.3 is "narrowly construed and strictly applied so as to avoid repetitive arguments on issues that have been considered fully by the court." Dietrich v. Bauer, 76 F. Supp. 2d 312, 327 (S.D.N.Y. 1999); see also Ehrlich, 2007 WL 1593241, at *2 (stating that it is well settled in the Second Circuit that the standard for granting a motion for reconsideration is "strict"); Church of Scientology Int'l v. Time Warner, Inc., No. 92 Civ. 3024, 1997 WL 538912, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 27, 1997) ("The standards for reargument are strictly applied in order to preserve scarce judicial resources and avoid piecemeal litigation.").

"To prevail on a motion for [reconsideration], the movant 'must demonstrate that the Court overlooked controlling decisions or factual matters that were put before it on the underlying motion.'" Church of Scientology, 1997 WL 538912, at *2 (quoting Gill v. Gilder, No. 95 Civ. 7933, 1997 WL 419983, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. July 28, 1997)). "A motion for reconsideration is not a substitute for appeal . . . Nor is it 'a second bite at the apple for a party dissatisfied with a court's ruling.'" Hunt, 2007 WL 1346652, at *1 (quoting Pannonia Farms, Inc. v. USA Cable, No. 03 Civ. 7841, 2004 WL 1794504, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 10, 2004)). Accordingly, a party may not merely offer the same arguments that were previously submitted to the court when seeking reconsideration. See Giordano v. Thomson, No. 03-CV-5672, 2006 WL 1882917, at *1 (E.D.N.Y. June 26, 2006) ("This Court cannot merely consider the same arguments that were previously submitted.") (citing Ruiz v. Comm'r of the D.O.T. of New York, 687 F. Supp. 888, 890 (S.D.N.Y. 1988), modified on other grounds, 934 F.2d 450 (2d Cir. 1991)). Moreover, a party is not permitted to "advance new facts, issues or arguments not previously presented to the Court" on a motion for reconsideration. Caribbean Trading & Fid. Corp. v. Nigerian Nat'l Petroleum Corp., 948 F.2d 111, 115 (2d Cir. 1991) (quotation omitted). "Indeed, a party requesting [reconsideration] 'is not supposed to treat the court's initial decision as the opening of a dialogue in which that party may then use Rule [6.3] to advance new facts and theories in response to the court's rulings.'" Church of Scientology, 1997 WL 538912, at *2 (quoting Woddard v. Hardenfelder, 845 F. Supp. 960, 966 (E.D.N.Y. 1994) (additional citation omitted); see also Hunt, 2007 WL 1346652, at *1 ("The restrictive application of Local Rule 6.3 helps to prevent the practice of a losing party examining a decision and then plugging the gaps of a lost motion with additional matters.") (quotation omitted).

II. Basis for Defendants' Motion

Defendants state that the Court overlooked both facts and "controlling authority" that necessitate certification of contempt. (Memorandum of Law in Support of Defendants' Motion for Reconsideration (hereinafter "Def. Mem. in Supp.") at 4.)

A. Matter of Public Record

Defendants maintain that, insofar as the Court concluded that the information published by plaintiff was already in the public domain (Mem. Op. & Order at 12), "the Court apparently overlooked the fact that both letters authored by [p]laintiff and submitted for publication expressly contained information concerning Mr. Bambrick's additional compensation contained only in [the] 'Confidential' 'IRS W-2' documents produced by Ms. Allen and Mr. Bambrick." (Def. Mem. in Supp. at 2) (emphasis in original).

The facts cited by defendants were all part of the record before the Court in reaching its prior decision, and were considered. Though the Court has reached a different conclusion than defendants upon review of these facts, this is not a proper basis for a motion for reconsideration. Calabrese v. CSC Holdings, Inc., No. 02 Civ. 5171, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16059, at *15 (E.D.N.Y. Mar. 7, 2007) ("Motions for reconsideration are not to be made simply because a party disagrees with the court's decision").

B. Disclosure of Information Regarding Mr. Bambrick's Additional Income Defendants claim that the Court erred in its conclusion that the disclosure form in question was part of the public record. (Id.)

As an initial matter, the Court notes that defendants themselves were uncertain, at the time of the hearing on the underlying contempt motion, whether state or municipal law permits or requires redaction of salary information from financial disclosure forms such as that filed by Mr. Bambrick. (Transcript of Hearing Before the Honorable E. Thomas Boyle, United States Magistrate Judge, on July 12, 2012 at 108:20-109:18.) In subsequent submissions to the Court, defendants relied upon several state and municipal statutes in support of their contention that such information would be redacted from Mr. Bambrick's disclosure form in the event that the form were to be made public. The Court reviewed the state and municipal law relied upon by defendants in reaching its conclusion on this subject, and found such ...


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