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Beautiful Home Textiles, Inc. v. Burlington Coat Factory Warehouse Corporation

United States District Court, S.D. New York

May 14, 2015

BEAUTIFUL HOME TEXTILES (USA), INC., et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
BURLINGTON COAT FACTORY WAREHOUSE CORPORATION, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

LORNA G. SCHOFIELD, District Judge.

Plaintiff Beautiful Home Textiles (USA), Inc. ("BHT") moves for judgment as a matter of law pursuant to Rule 50(b) or, in the alternative, a new trial pursuant to Rule 59. After a three-day trial, a jury returned a verdict in favor of Defendant Burlington Coat Factory Warehouse Corporation on two of its counterclaims. Although styled as a "motion for judgment as a matter of law, " Plaintiff's motion is effectively a motion for reconsideration. Before the case was submitted to the jury for deliberation, Plaintiff timely made an oral motion for judgment as a matter of a law, and the Court reserved decision until a jury verdict was returned. After the jury verdict was announced, Plaintiff renewed its motion for judgment as a matter of law - or, in the alternative, a new trial - which the Court denied. Thus, the instant motion is properly construed as a motion for reconsideration of that denial.[1] For the following reasons, Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration is denied.

BACKGROUND

Familiarity with the factual background and procedural history of this case is assumed, and the following facts are recited solely for the purpose of explaining the denial of Plaintiff's motion.

At trial - before the case was submitted to the jury for deliberation - BHT timely moved for judgment as a matter of law. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(a)(2). With respect to the Cancelled Units, BHT argued that (1) "no one on the part of Burlington was able to identify a demand for assurance" and (2) Burlington's "testing two units didn't tell [it] anything about the remaining 40, 497 units, so there was no reasonable basis for insecurity." With respect to the Delivered Units, BHT argued that (1) "nobody was able to identify any listing of any particular transactions" and (2) as Burlington tested only a subset of the delivered goods, "Burlington [was] unable to discharge its burden of proving by [a] preponderance of the evidence that the units were not conforming." The Court reserved decision until the jury returned a verdict.

At the charging conference, BHT raised an objection concerning the verdict form and argued that it improperly "omits the notice requirement, which was one of the elements" of the breach of contract counterclaim. The Court responded, "The purpose of the verdict form is not to restate all of the elements. The jury charge, which the jury can take into the jury room with them, states all of the elements. The purpose of the verdict form is simply to determine what their verdict is on each claim." BHT did not object to the wording of the breach of charge question in the verdict form.

Similarly, BHT argued that, with respect to the breach of warranty counterclaim, the verdict form should include a question explicitly asking the jury "whether Burlington made the demand for assurance and failed to get it from BHT." The Court responded, "That is the same issue. I am simply asking whether there is liability on that claim. I am not going through any of the requirements for liability."

After the jury verdict, BHT renewed its motion for judgment as a matter of law and moved, in the alternative, for a new trial. BHT argued, "[T]he verdict sheet didn't ask the question about the notice, and that was an important line of defense for us. The verdict sheet made it possible for the jury to impose liability on BHT even if they found that there had been no notice." The Court denied the motion from the bench and reiterated that the verdict form need not restate all of the elements of each claim. Further, the jury "instructions, in part at [BHT's] request, were very clear on the need to prove notice both with respect to the breach of contract claim and the breach of warranty claim." The Court concluded:

[T]here is a presumption as a matter of law that the jurors have heard, understood, and applied the instructions, and... there was a sufficient factual basis for the jury to find that notice was given with respect to the claims on which they found liability. I would also note that the jury declined to find that there was liability on the canceled bed sheets. I presume that [] was because of the success of [BHT's] argument that there was no written demand for adequate assurance. It seems pretty clear that the jury understood the various requirements for liability based on the instructions and not withstanding it not being included in the verdict form.

STANDARD

I. RECONSIDERATION

"The standards governing motions for amendment of findings under Rule 52(b), motions to alter or amend a judgment pursuant to Rule 59(e), and motions for reconsideration pursuant to Local Rule 6.3 are the same." ResQnet.com, Inc. v. Lansa, Inc., No. 01 Civ. 3578 (RWS), 2008 WL 4376367, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 25, 2008) (quoting Wechsler v. Hunt Health Sys., Ltd., No. 94 Civ. 8294 (PKL), 2004 WL 2210261, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 30, 2004)). A movant for reconsideration bears the heavy burden of demonstrating that there has been an intervening change of controlling law, that new evidence has become available, or that there is a need to correct a clear error or prevent manifest injustice. Virgin Atl. Airways, Ltd. v. Nat'l Mediation Bd., 956 F.2d 1245, 1255 (2d Cir. 1992); accord Shrader v. CSX Transp., Inc., 70 F.3d 255, 257 (2d Cir. 1995) ("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.").

"A party seeking reconsideration is not supposed to treat the court's initial decision as the opening of a dialogue in which that party may then use such a motion to advance new theories or adduce new evidence in response to the court's rulings.'" Wechsler, 2004 WL 2210261, at *2 (quoting Polsby v. St. Martin's Press, Inc., No. 97 Civ. 690 (MBM), 2000 WL 98057, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 18, 2000)). "The motion to reconsider cannot properly advance new facts, issues or arguments not previously presented to the court.'" Id. (quoting Davidson v. Scully, 172 F.Supp.2d 458, 461 (S.D.N.Y. 2001)); accord Phillips v. City of New York, 775 F.3d 538, 544 (2d Cir. ...


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