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Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's v. National Casualty Co.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

July 2, 2015




Before the Court is Defendant National Casualty Company's ("National") "Motion to Reconsider Motion for Continuance, "[1] wherein National contends that good cause exists to continue the trial date because: (1) "the discovery needed to prepare this matter for trial is far more involved than either counsel anticipated at the outset of the case" and "simply cannot be completed before the currently scheduled trial date, " owing to its recent identification certain issues in this case; (2) a continuance "would do more to honor the sanctity" of the Court's docket "than adhering to the current trial date;" (3) without a continuance, "the parties may be forced to abandon settlement discussions;" and (4) "adherence to the currently scheduled trial date would deprive it of its right to prepare and appropriate defense."[2]

Plaintiffs have filed a response, in which they aver that they "do not oppose a brief continuance in this matter, " but cannot join in National's motion due to: (1) "National's position that it is entitled to conduct discovery" on certain issues; and (2) "disagreements over factual assertions within National's pleading."[3] National has also moved the Court for leave to file a reply in further support of its motion, in which it disputes whether it is entitled to perform the disputed discovery.[4] Finally, Plaintiffs have moved the Court for leave to file a sur-reply, in which Plaintiffs further dispute whether National is entitled to conduct the disputed discovery.[5]

Also pending before the Court is an "Unopposed Motion to Continue Discovery and Pre-Trial Motion Deadlines"[6] filed by Plaintiffs, in which Plaintiffs request that the Court extend the pretrial motion deadline by 28 days, to August 19, 2015, and extend the discovery deadline by 17 days, until August 19, 2015, [7] because the current deadlines in effect in this matter "leave insufficient time to complete the discovery" believed to be necessary to "file motions that provide the Court will a full and complete picture" of the relevant issues in this case.[8] Plaintiffs further aver that they expect that certain discovery will be subject to motion practice before the Magistrate Judge.[9]

On June 17, 2015, the parties filed an ex parte "Joint Motion to Continue Trial, "[10] requesting that the Court continue the trial in this matter currently scheduled for September 14, 2015, asserting that a continuance is necessary because "on May 18, 2015, plaintiffs produced 5, 993 pages of documents, "[11] and because "additional discovery likely will be warranted upon completion of the review of that information making compliance with the Court's scheduling order impossible."[12] The Scheduling Order in effect in this matter requires that "[d]epositions for trial use shall be taken and all discovery shall be completed no later than July 14, 2015."[13] The Court denied the motion on June 19, 2015, because: (1) plaintiffs produced these documents almost two months before the deadline for completion of depositions and discovery; (2) the parties modified the discovery deadline out of "professional courtesy, " causing the delayed production; and because (3) "[t]here are clearly less disruptive alternatives available to the parties than to continue the trial date and all pre-trial deadlines."[14]

Although the Fifth Circuit has noted that the Federal Rules "do not recognize a motion for reconsideration' in haec verba, "[15] it has consistently recognized that such a motion may challenge a judgment or order under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 54(b), 59(e), or 60(b).[16] When a party seeks to revise an order that adjudicates fewer than all the claims among all of the parties, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b) controls:

[A]ny order or other decision, however designated, that adjudicates fewer than all the claims or the rights and liabilities of fewer than all the parties does not end the action as to any of the claims or parties and may be revised at any time before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all the claims and all the parties' rights and liabilities.[17]

Under Rule 54(b), the district court "possesses the inherent procedural power to reconsider, rescind, or modify an interlocutory order for cause seen by it to be sufficient"[18] However, this broad discretion must be exercised sparingly in order to forestall the perpetual reexamination of orders and the resulting burdens and delays.[19]

The general practice of courts in the Eastern District of Louisiana has been to evaluate Rule 54(b) motions to reconsider interlocutory orders under the same standards that govern Rule 59(e) motions to alter or amend a final judgment.[20] Such a motion "calls into question the correctness of a judgment, "[21] and courts have considerable discretion in deciding whether to grant such a motion.[22] In exercising this discretion, courts must carefully balance the interests of justice with the need for finality.[23] Courts in the Eastern District of Louisiana have generally considered four factors in deciding motions for reconsideration under the Rule 59(e) standard:

(1) the motion is necessary to correct a manifest error of law or fact upon which the judgment is based;
(2) the movant presents newly discovered or previously unavailable evidence;
(3) the motion is necessary in order to prevent manifest injustice; or
(4) the motion is justified by an intervening change in controlling law.[24]

A motion for reconsideration "[is] not the proper vehicle for rehashing evidence, legal theories, or arguments....'"[25] Instead, such motions "serve the narrow purpose of allowing a party to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence."[26] "It is well settled that motions for reconsideration ...

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