United States District Court, S.D. New York
CHRISTIANS OF CALIFORNIA, INC., a Colorado Corporation, Plaintiff,
CLIVE CHRISTIAN NEW YORK, LLP, a Foreign Limited Liability Company d/b/a CLIVE CHRISTIAN NYC, LLC, CLIVE CHRISTIAN FURNITURE, LTD, a Foreign Private Limited Company, and CLIVE CHRISTIAN, an individual, Defendants. CLIVE CHRISTIAN NEW YORK, LLP, a Foreign Limited Liability Company d/b/a CLIVE CHRISTIAN NYC, LLC, CLIVE CHRISTIAN FURNITURE, LTD, a Foreign Private Limited Company, and CLIVE CHRISTIAN, an individual, Counter Claimants,
CHRISTIANS OF CALIFORNIA, INC., a Colorado Corporation, Counter Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
JAMES C. FRANCIS, IV, Magistrate Judge.
This case arises out of a business dispute between the plaintiff, Christians of California, Inc. ("CCI"), and defendants Clive Christian New York, LLP, Clive Christian Furniture, Ltd, and Clive Christian. I denied the plaintiff's motion for leave to amend the Complaint to add a claim for copyright infringement because, at that time, CCI did not have a registered copyright and the motion was thus futile. The plaintiff now moves for reconsideration of that decision; the defendants oppose the motion. For the following reasons, the motion to reconsider is granted and the plaintiff's motion for leave to amend is granted.
The background and procedural history of this case were discussed in the memorandum and order denying the motion to amend. Christians of California, Inc. v. Clive Christian New York, LLP, No. 13 Civ. 275, 2014 WL 2465273, at *1-2 (S.D.N.Y. May 30, 2014). Briefly, the plaintiff alleged that the defendants utilized its architectural and design plans (the "Zaragoza Plans") in order to steal a lucrative client, ultimately forcing the plaintiff out of business.The plaintiff claimed, in a Proposed Second Amended Complaint ("Proposed 2d Am. Compl."), that it had applied for a copyright on the project plans and that the defendants' actions infringed its intellectual property rights.At the time the motion for leave to amend the Complaint was filed, however, the plaintiff claimed only that it "own[ed] a valid copyright to the Zaragoza Plans that is (or will shortly be) registered" and acknowledged that while it had "applied for and expect[ed] to shortly receive certification of a valid copyright, " it had not received a final determination on its application from the Copyright Office. (Memorandum of Law in Support of Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File Second Amended Complaint and Jury Demand and Request for Injunctive Relief ("Pl. Memo. Amend.") at 4, 7). I denied the motion to amend on the ground that a party cannot assert an infringement claim on the basis of a copyright that has not yet been issued.
On May 27, 2014, plaintiff's counsel received from the U.S. Copyright Office the Certificate of Registration for the Zaragoza Plans, effective November 8, 2013. (Memorandum of Law in Support of Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration of the Court's Order Denying Without Prejudice Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File its Second Amended Complaint and Jury Demand and Request for Injunctive Relief ("Pl. Memo.") at 3; Certificate of Registration, attached as Exh. B to Pl. Memo.). Plaintiff's counsel immediately shared that Certificate with opposing counsel, but did not inform the Court prior to May 30, 2014, when I issued the Memorandum and Order denying the motion for leave to amend. On June 3, 2014, the plaintiff filed the instant motion for reconsideration in light of the newly certified copyright registration.
A. Motion for Reconsideration
1. Legal Standard
Motions for reconsideration are governed by Local Civil Rule 6.3 of the Southern District of New York ("Local Rule 6.3") and are committed "to the sound discretion of the district court." Mendell ex rel. Viacom, Inc. v. Gollust , 909 F.2d 724, 731 (2d Cir. 1990). That rule permits a party to submit "a memorandum setting forth concisely the matters... which counsel believes the court has overlooked" that merit reconsideration. Local Rule 6.3.
A motion for reconsideration "is generally not favored and is properly granted only upon a showing of exceptional circumstances." Marrero Pichardo v. Ashcroft , 374 F.3d 46, 55 (2d Cir. 2004) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also In re Health Management Systems, Inc. Securities Litigation , 113 F.Supp.2d 613, 614 (S.D.N.Y. 2000) ("[A motion for reconsiderat ion is an] extraordinary remedy to be employed sparingly in the interests of finality and conservation of scarce judicial resources." (internal quotation marks omitted)). The standard for such motions is thus "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." Shrader v. CSX Transportation Inc. , 70 F.3d 255, 257 (2d Cir. 1995) ("[A] motion to reconsider should not be granted where the moving party seeks solely to relitigate an issue already decided."); accord In re Harbinger Capital Partners Funds Investor Litigation, No. 12 Civ. 1244 , 2013 WL 7121186, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 16, 2013); see also Nakshin v. Holder , 360 F.Appx. 192, 193 (2d Cir. 2010) ("The threshold for prevailing on a motion for reconsideration is high."). A motion to reconsider "should be granted only when the [proponent] identifies an intervening change of law, the availability of new evidence, or the need to correct a clear error or prevent manifest injustice." Kolel Beth Yechiel Mechil of Tartikov, Inc. v. YLL Irrevocable Trust , 729 F.3d 99, 104 (2d Cir. 2013) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Indergit v. Rite Aid Corp., No. 08 Civ. 9361, 2014 WL 2741314, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. June 17, 2014) ("To prevail, the movant must demonstrate either (i) an intervening change in controlling law; (ii) the availability of new evidence; or (iii) the need to correct clear error or prevent manifest injustice.").
A party may not advance new "facts, issues, or arguments that were previously available but not presented to the court, " id., and a motion for reconsideration is generally "not the proper venue for the submission of new material, " Systems Management Arts, Inc. v. Avesta Technologies, Inc. , 106 F.Supp.2d 519, 520-21 (S.D.N.Y. 2000). Local Rule 6.3 thus states that "[n]o affidavits shall be filed by any party unless directed by the Court." (Local Rule 6.3); see also Boarding School Review, LLC v. Delta Career Education Corp., No. 11 Civ. 8921, 2013 WL 6670586, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 16, 2013) ("Local Rule 6.3 does not afford a losing party the right to submit any affidavits or new evidence."). Furthermore, the court "[should] not consider facts not in the record to be facts that the court overlooked." Rafter v. Liddle , 288 F.Appx. 768, 769 (2d Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks omitted).
The parties disagree over whether the newly-obtained Certificate of Registration constitutes "new evidence" that was not previously available, the consideration of which would "prevent manifest injustice" (Memorandum of Law in Support of Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration of the Court's Order Denying Without Prejudice Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File Its Second Amended Complaint and Jury Demand and Request for Injunctive Relief ("Pl. Memo." at 8), or whether it is an attempt to introduce "new facts" that were previously available but not presented to the Court and that have not been submitted with a supporting affidavit or declaration (Defendants' Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration ("Def. Memo." at 2, 8-10). In this case, submission of the Certificate of Registration with a motion for reconsideration is proper, as it provides new evidentiary support for the plaintiff's already argued factual position - that it "owns a valid copyright to the Zaragoza Plans that is (or will shortly be) registered" (Pl. Memo. Amend. at 7) - rather than asserting a new (and unexpected) fact that was never before the Court. Furthermore, this new evidence would necessarily change the outcome of the prior ruling, which rested entirely on the futility of the motion to amend absent a determination by the Copyright Office on the plaintiff's application. Thus, reconsideration is reasonably expected to "alter the conclusion reached" in the original decision. Shrader , 70 F.3d at 257.
The plaintiff erred by prematurely filing its motion to amend, by failing to attach any evidence of an approved or pending copyright application, and by failing to notify the court promptly of receipt of the registration (Def. Memo. at 4-5, 8, 10). However, it now argues that it "filed its motion as one for reconsideration to prevent the waste of time, energy, and resources that would result from fully re-briefing its motion to amend" (Reply at 1).I agree that reconsideration is the appropriate way to deal with this matter. In opposing the instant motion, the defendants do not argue that any prejudice would arise from reconsidering the prior decision rather than considering a renewed motion to amend, nor that it would be necessary to have further briefing on the renewed motion to amend.Indeed, they devote only a short paragraph at the end of the opposition memo to "assert all of [the] previously stated additional arguments for why [the] [p]laintiff's copyright claim should not be ...