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Prisco v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

United States District Court, Second Circuit

December 30, 2013

RANDOLPH PRISCO, Appellant,
v.
WELLS FARGO BANK, NA, et al., Appellees.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER

LAWRENCE E. KAHN, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Before the Court is Appellant Rudolph Prisco's ("Appellant") Motion for reconsideration of an Order dismissing an appeal for failure to prosecute. Dkt. Nos. 10; 14 ("Motion"). Appellant subsequently amended his Motion. Dkt. No. 15 ("Amended Motion"). No responses or replies were filed. For the reasons that follow, Appellant's Motion is denied.

II. BACKGROUND

Appellant filed a voluntary petition for Chapter 13 bankruptcy relief ("Petition") in the Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of New York. See Dkt. No. 1-1 ("Bankruptcy Court Docket Sheet").[1] The Bankruptcy Court later converted Appellant's Petition to a Chapter 7 filing. See Bankr. Ct. Dkt. No. 172. The filing of the Petition commenced the 11 U.S.C. ยง 362 automatic stay. Appellee Wells Fargo Bank, NA ("Appellee") moved to lift the stay as to Appellant's home, which he had refinanced with a mortgage ("Mortgage") obtained from Appellee. See Bankr. Ct. Dkt. No. 43. The bankruptcy court issued a conditional order that lifted the stay ("Conditional Order") to allow Appellant and Appellee to modify the Mortgage, and provided that the stay would be unconditionally lifted if Appellant defaulted under the terms of the Conditional Order. Bankr. Ct. Dkt. No. 62. Appellee subsequently filed an ex parte application to lift the stay after Appellant allegedly defaulted on his payments. Bankr. Ct. Dkt. No. 200 ("Application"). The Court granted the Application. Bankr. Ct. Dkt. No. 201. Appellant moved to reconsider the Bankruptcy Court Order, Appellee filed a Response, and Appellant a Reply. Bankr. Ct. Dkt. Nos. 202; 206; 209. After two hearings, the Bankruptcy Court ruled from the bench that Appellant's Motion to reconsider was denied. Dkt. Nos. 7 ("November Transcript"), 7-1 ("December Transcript") at 40:11-12; see also Bankr. Ct. Dkt. No. 219. Appellant filed a notice of appeal, which is now before the Court. Bankr. Ct. Dkt. No. 222.

The Court set an initial due date of April 23, 2012 for Appellant's brief. See Dkt. No. 3 ("Scheduling Order"). On April 20, Appellant moved for an extension of time to submit his brief. Dkt. No. 5. The Court granted that Motion. Dkt. No. 6. On July 2, 2012, Appellant moved to further extend time until July 16, 2012, stating that he was caring for his mother, who had recently been a victim of cardiac arrest. Dkt. No. 8. The Court granted the requested extension. Dkt. No. 9. On July 16, Appellant called the Court to explain that he could not timely file his brief because no one is there to help Appellant's mother while he is away. The Court advised Appellant to file a letter along with his brief at the earliest possible opportunity.

Still having received no brief from Appellant as of June 2013, the Court dismissed the appeal for failure to prosecute. Dkt. No. 10. Appellant then filed the Motions for reconsideration. Mot.; Am. Mot.

III. DISCUSSION

The standard for granting a motion for reconsideration is strict. Shrader v. CSX Transp., Inc. , 70 F.3d 255, 257 (2d Cir. 1995). A motion for reconsideration "should not be granted where the moving party seeks solely to relitigate an issue already decided." Id . Furthermore, a motion for reconsideration is not to be used for "presenting the case under new theories, securing a rehearing on the merits, or otherwise taking a second bite at the apple.'" Sequa Corp. v. GBJ Corp. , 156 F.3d 136, 144 (2d Cir. 1998). "Generally, the prevailing rule in the Northern District recognizes only three possible grounds upon which motions for reconsideration may be granted; they are (1) an intervening change in controlling law, (2) the availability of new evidence not previously available, or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice.'" Sumner v. McCall , 103 F.Supp.2d 555, 558 (N.D.N.Y. 2000) (Kahn, J.) (quoting In re C-TC 9th Ave. P'ship , 182 B.R. 1, 3 (N.D.N.Y. 1995)).

Federal courts possess the power to dismiss an action sua sponte for failure to prosecute. Link v. Wabash R. Co. , 370 U.S. 626, 629-31 (1962) ("The authority of a court to dismiss sua sponte for lack of prosecution has generally been considered an inherent power...."); see also FED. R. CIV. P. 41(b); L.R. 41.2 ("plaintiff's failure to take action for four (4) months shall be presumptive evidence of lack of prosecution"). In determining the validity of a Rule 41(b) dismissal, the Court looks to whether:

(1) the plaintiff's failure to prosecute caused a delay of significant duration; (2) plaintiff was given notice that further delay would result in dismissal; (3) defendant was likely to be prejudiced by further delay; (4) the need to alleviate court calendar congestion was carefully balanced against plaintiff's right to an opportunity for a day in court; and (5) the trial court adequately assessed the efficacy of lesser sanctions.

Lewis v. Rawson , 564 F.3d 569, 576 (2d Cir. 2009); see also United States ex rel. Drake v. Norden Sys., Inc. , 375 F.3d 248, 254 (2d Cir. 2004) (noting that no single factor is dispositive in the analysis). The Court is mindful of Appellant's pro se status. See, e.g., Tracy v. Freshwater , 623 F.3d 90, 101 (2d Cir. 2010). However, because more than twenty months have passed since the appeal was docketed, the Court denies Appellant's Motion.

Appellant urges the Court to reconsider the dismissal because Appellant is the "sole caregiver" of his mother and because Appellant attempted unsuccessfully to file a letter with the Court seeking further extension. Am. Mot. at 1. ...


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