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Veritext Corp. v. Bonin

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

December 9, 2019

VERITEXT CORP.
v.
PAUL A. BONIN, ET AL.

         SECTION: “B” (2)

          ORDER

         Before the Court are, plaintiff Esquire Deposition Solutions' “Plaintiff Esquire Deposition Solutions' Motion for Reconsideration or, Alternatively, to Amend or Alter Judgment” (Rec. Doc. 145); defendant Louisiana Court Reporters Association's (“LCRA”) “Defendant Louisiana Court Reporters Association's Memorandum in Opposition to Plaintiff Esquire Deposition Solutions' Motion for Reconsideration or, Alternatively, To Amend or Alter Judgment” (Rec. Doc. 151); and defendant CSR Board's “Memorandum in Opposition to Esquire Deposition Solutions, LLC's Motion for Reconsideration or, Alternatively, to Amend or Alter Judgment” (Rec. Doc. 155).

         For below assigned reasons, IT IS ORDERED that plaintiff Esquire's motion for reconsideration or amendment is DENIED.

         Based on extensive filings in this matter, the factual basis here incorporates the factual findings from the prior dismissal order at issue. See Rec. Doc. 137 at 2-4. That order involved Esquire's Sherman Act and constitutional law vagueness claims against defendant LCRA, and Esquire's constitutional law vagueness claims against defendant Louisiana Board of Examiners of Certified Shorthand Court Reporters (“CSR Board”).

         Esquire contends the allegations in their complaint (Rec. Doc. 1) established that the LCRA sanctioned and promoted a price fixing conspiracy “separate and apart from its lobbying of the [CSR Board].” Id. at 1. Esquire further contends that regardless of whether the allegations were sufficient standing alone, defendant LCRA produced meeting minutes on September 30, 2019 from defendant LCRA's annual board and executive meeting, which purportedly reveal: (1) LCRA “adopted a policy against contracting”; (2) “solicited insurance companies and law firms to boycott national court reporting firms”; and (3) “contacted a national association of court reporters in 2018 to solicit its support against the LCRA's contracting stance and was told that such conduct is unlawful.” (Exhibit 3 to Rec. Doc. 145)

         Esquire asserts that this court failed to take into consideration “detail (sic) factual allegations” concerning whether LCRA member's actions were undertaken in an individual capacity or on behalf of the association. It refers to allegations in paragraphs 19 and 20 of their complaint, which identify “key figures (Messrs. Borello and Gilberti) who are senior officers and directors of the LCRA.” Id. Plaintiff also contends that evidence recently produced by LCRA confirms that individuals within LCRA were not acting in their individual capacities but on behalf of the association.

         Esquire further argues that meeting minutes from LCRA's Executive Board meeting in 2018 revealed that the President of LCRA called her counterpart at the National Court Reporters Association (“NCRA”) “‘to discuss NCRA's stance on anti-contracting.'” (quoting Exhibit 4, p. 3, Rec. Doc. 145). In further support of this contention, it further states that the NCRA president stated that “Legal Counsel can't link ethics to stop companies from engaging in business practices.” Id.

         Defendant LCRA and the CSR Board oppose plaintiff's motion for reconsideration. (Rec. Docs. 151 & 155).[1] Defendants point out that the court's prior findings should not be disturbed because: (1) the court “expressly acknowledged that certain LCRA members served in senior capacities at the LCRA”; and (2) “the purported ‘newly discovered evidence' advanced by Esquire does not change the outcome of the case and is merely cumulative in nature.” Rec. Doc. 151 at 1.

         Defendants contend that Esquire is unable to make the requisite showing to alter its judgment under FRCP 59(e). First, defendants argue that the subject ruling contains no manifest error of fact or law, as the court took into consideration the positions held by certain members of LCRA. Id. at 3. Defendants also aver that the caselaw cited by plaintiff to support their contention that an association or organization can be held liable for the actions of its members is misplaced. Id. at 4. Specifically, defendants note that the cases cited are those in which an organization or association unilaterally enacted anticompetitive legislation, and in this case defendant LCRA shows it did not engage in any such unilateral action. Id.

         Esquire's assertion that defendants failed to produce a memorandum from their records is incorrect. Defendants show that in their “Supplemental Discovery Responses dated October 16, 2019” defendant LCRA produced the memorandum in a PDF file format.

         Specifically, defendants state that in the 2013 LCRA annual meeting minutes, a member of the LCRA (Mr. Borello) “suggested that the LCRA take the position that it “has been against contracting and will remain against it.” (citing Rec. Doc. 145-3 at 2). Absent from the minutes is (1) any indication that a motion was made; (2) a vote taken; or (3) any action taken, regarding defendant LCRA's stance on contracting. Further, defendant notes that the law firm letters that were then sent out contained: (1) Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure Article 1434; (2) the statute's historical background; and (3) the CSR Board's interpretation of said statute, and “hardly constitute ‘private enforcement efforts'.” The letters merely informed local law firms of the existence of the code article in question.

         I. LAW AND ANALYSIS

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b) provides the district court with “the inherent procedural power to reconsider, rescind, or modify an interlocutory order for cause seen by it to be sufficient.” Castrillo v. Am. Home Mortg. Servicing, Inc., No. 09-4369, 2010 WL 1424398, at *3 (E.D. La. Apr. 5, 2010) (citing Melancon v. Texaco, Inc., 659 F.2d 551, 553 (5th Cir. 1981). The district court's discretion is broad when determining whether a motion for reconsideration has merit; however, “it is exercised sparingly in order to forestall the perpetual reexamination of orders and the resulting burdens and delays.” Id. (citing 18b Charles A. Wright et al., Fed. Prac. & Proc. § 4478.1 (2d ed.). “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.” Hoffman v. Bailey, No. 13-5153, 2015 WL 9315785, at *7 (E.D. La. Dec. 23, 2015).

         A Rule 59(e) motion calls into question the correctness of a judgment. In re Transtexas Gas Corp., 303 F.3d 571, 581 (5th Cir. 2002). Rule 59(e) serves “the narrow purpose of allowing a party to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence.” Basinkeeper v. Bostick, 663 Fed.Appx. 291, 294 (5th Cir. 2016) (quoting Waltman v. Int'l Paper Co., 875 F.2d 468, 473 (5th Cir. 1989)). Amending a judgment is appropriate under Rule 59(e): “(1) where there has been an intervening change in the controlling law; (2) where the movant presents newly discovered evidence that was previously unavailable; or (3) to correct a manifest error of law or fact.” Berezowsky v. Rendon Ojeda, 652 Fed.Appx. 249, 251 (5th Cir. 2016) (quoting Demahy v. Schwarz Pharma, Inc., 702 F.3d 177, 182 (5th Cir. 2012)). Because Rule 59(e) has a “narrow purpose, ” the Fifth Circuit has “observed that [r]econsideration of a judgment after its entry is an extraordinary remedy that should be used sparingly.” Id. (quoting Templet v. HydroChem Inc., 367 F.3d 473, 479 (5th Cir. 2004)). Thus, “a motion for reconsideration is not the proper vehicle for rehashing evidence, legal theories, or arguments that could have been offered or raised before the entry of judgment.” Id. (quoting ...


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