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Candler v. Sisters of Charity of Incarnate Word

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division

January 15, 2015

DAVID CANDLER,
v.
SISTERS OF CHARITY OF THE INCARNATE WORD d/b/a CHRISTUS, HEALTH

MEMORANDUM ORDER

KAREN L. HAYES, Magistrate Judge.

Before the undersigned Magistrate Judge, on reference from the District Court, is a "Motion for Reconsideration, Vacation, or Modification of the Court's Memorandum Ruling Denying Attorneys Fees" [doc. # 11] filed by plaintiff David Candler. The motion is opposed. For reasons assigned below, the motion is DENIED.[1]

Background

On December 3, 2014, the undersigned determined that the court does not enjoy subject matter jurisdiction to entertain this case, and ordered the matter remanded to the First Judicial District Court for the Parish of Caddo, State of Louisiana, whence it was removed. (Mem. Ruling and Judgment [doc. #s 9-10). In the same ruling, the court denied plaintiff's request for damages, fees, etc., stating that

plaintiff has not demonstrated that he suffered any quantifiable damages attributable to the removal. Although lack of subject matter jurisdiction may be raised at any time, plaintiff did not expeditiously seek remand within 30 days of removal, and only filed a brief after prompting from the court and after defendant all but conceded remand. Under these circumstances, an award for damages, costs, fees, and/or expenses is not warranted.

(Mem. Ruling, pg. 5).

On December 8, 2014, plaintiff filed the instant motion for reconsideration. Plaintiff contends, inter alia, that the removal was not objectively reasonable, and therefore, the court should reconsider its decision to deny attorney's fees. Plaintiff does not contest the order of remand. Defendant filed its response to the motion on December 29, 2014. Plaintiff did not seek leave to file a reply memorandum, and the time to do so has lapsed. (Notice of Motion Setting [doc. # 13]). Accordingly, the matter is ripe.

Law

Generally, "motions to reconsider are analyzed under Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure." McDonald v. Entergy Operations, Inc., 2005 WL 1528611, at *1 (S.D.Miss. May 31, 2005); Dixon v. 24 th Jud. Dist. Ct., 2013 WL 4517932, at *1 (E.D. La. Aug. 23, 2013). A Rule 59(e) motion to alter or amend judgment "calls into question the correctness of a judgment." Tex. Comptroller of Pub. Accounts v. Transtexas Gas Corp. (In re Transtexas Gas Corp.), 303 F.3d 571, 581 (5th Cir. 2002). It "serve[s] the narrow purpose of allowing a party to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence." Waltman v. Int'l Paper Co., 875 F.2d 468, 473 (5th Cir. 1989). A motion to alter or amend judgment is not the proper vehicle for rehashing evidence, legal theories, or arguments that could have been offered or raised before the entry of judgment. Simon v. United States, 891 F.2d 1154, 1159 (5th Cir. 1990). In ruling on this type of motion, the court must strike the proper balance between the need for finality and the need to render just decisions on the basis of all the facts. See Edward H. Bohlin Co. v. Banning Co., 6 F.3d 350, 355 (5th Cir. 1993).

Discussion

An order remanding a case to state court may require payment of "just costs and any actual expenses, including attorney fees, " that were incurred as a result of removal. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). Interpreting this provision, the Supreme Court has recognized that

the standard for awarding fees should turn on the reasonableness of the removal. Absent unusual circumstances, courts may award attorney's fees under § 1447(c) only where the removing party lacked an objectively reasonable basis for seeking removal. Conversely, when an objectively reasonable basis exists, fees should be denied. In applying this rule, district courts retain discretion to consider whether unusual circumstances warrant a departure from the rule in a given case. For instance, a plaintiff's delay in seeking remand or failure to disclose facts necessary to determine jurisdiction may affect the decision to award attorney's fees. When a court exercises its discretion in this manner, however, its reasons for departing from the general rule should be faithful to the purposes of awarding fees under § 1447(c).

Martin v. Franklin Capital Corp., 546 U.S. 132, 140-41, 126 S.Ct. 704, 711 (2005) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted) (emphasis added).

Moreover, the "statute does not embody either a strong preference for or a strong preference against fee awards." Admiral Ins. Co. v. Abshire, 574 F.3d 267, 280 (5th Cir. 2009). The courts must look to the objective merits of removal at the time of removal, not the motives of the removing defendant(s). Diaz ...


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