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Butler v. Denka Performance Elastomer LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

February 20, 2019

JUANEA L. BUTLER
v.
DENKA PERFORMANCE ELASTOMER LLC; E.I. DUPONT DE NEMOURS AND COMPANY; ET AL.

         SECTION "F"

          ORDER AND REASONS

          MARTIN L. C. FELDMAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is the plaintiff's Rule 54(b) motion to reconsider the Court's January 3, 2019 Order and Reasons denying remand to state court. For the reasons that follow, the plaintiff's motion is frivolous and is hereby DENIED.

         Background

         This environmental tort litigation arises from the production of neoprene at the Pontchartrain Works Facility (“PWF”) in St. John the Baptist Parish. Neoprene production allegedly exposes those living in the vicinity of the PWF to concentrated levels of chloroprene well above the upper limit of acceptable risk, and may result in a risk of cancer more than 800 times the national average.

         Juanea L. Butler, a resident of LaPlace, Louisiana, sued seeking class certification, damages, and injunctive relief in the form of abatement of chloroprene releases from her industrial neighbor, the PWF. The PWF is the only facility in the United States still manufacturing neoprene, which is made from chloroprene, and which the Environmental Protection Agency has classified as a likely human carcinogen.

         Denka and DuPont jointly removed the lawsuit, invoking this Court's diversity jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”), 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d). On January 3, 2019, the Court denied the plaintiff's motion to remand.[1] The plaintiff now moves for this Court to reconsider its Order denying remand.

         I. Legal Standard

         Rule 54(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs the plaintiff's motion to reconsider this Court's Order and Reasons in which it denied the plaintiff's request to remand to state court. Rule 54(b) states:

         (b) Judgement on Multiple Claims or Involving Multiple Parties.

When an action presents more than one claim for relief whether as a claim, counterclaim, crossclaim, or third-party claim or when multiple parties are involved, the court may direct entry of a final judgment as to one or more, but fewer than all, claims or parties only if the court expressly determines that there is no just reason for delay. Otherwise, any order or other decision, however designated, that adjudicates 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.

         A motion seeking reconsideration or revision of a district court ruling is analyzed under Rule 59(e), if it seeks to alter or amend a final judgment, or Rule 54(b), if it seeks to revise an interlocutory order. See Cabral v. Brennan, 853 F.3d 763, 766 (5th Cir. 2017)(determining that the district court's erroneous application of the “more exacting” Rule 59(e) standard to a motion granting partial summary judgment was harmless error given that the appellant was not harmed by the procedural error).

         Rule 54(b) authorizes the district court to “revise[] at any time...any order or other decision...that does not end the action.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b); Austin v. Kroger Texas, L.P., 864 F.3d 326, 336 (5th Cir. 2017). The Court “is free to reconsider and reverse its decision for any reason it deems sufficient, even in the absence of new evidence or an intervening change in or clarification of the substantive law.” Austin, 864 F.3d at 336 (citing Lavespere v. Niagara Mach. & Tool Works, Inc., 910 F.2d 167, 185 (5th Cir. 1990), abrogated on other grounds, Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 n.14 (5th Cir. 1994)(en banc)). Compared to Rule 59(e), [2] “Rule 54(b)'s approach to the interlocutory presentation of new arguments as the case evolves [is] more flexible, reflecting the ‘inherent power of the rendering district court to afford such relief from interlocutory ...


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