JMA Investments v. Mt. Hawley Insurance Company

Filing 43

ORDER by Judge Richard Seeborg denying 35 Motion for Relief from Judgment. (cl, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 8/28/2014)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 8 FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 9 SAN FRANCISCO DIVISION 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 12 13 No. C 13-04581 RS JMA INVESTMENTS, ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT Plaintiffs, v. MT. HAWLEY INSURANCE COMPANY; 14 and DOES 1 through 25, inclusive, 15 Defendants. 16 ____________________________________/ 17 On May 19, 2014, judgment was entered in favor of defendant Mt. Hawley Insurance 18 Company (“Mt. Hawley”) following cross-motions for summary judgment. Plaintiff JMA 19 Investments (“JMA”) sought relief from that order in a motion styled as a motion for 20 reconsideration. The motion was construed as a timely motion for relief from the judgment, 21 consistent with Rules 59 and 60 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and Mt. Hawley was 22 directed to respond to parts II.C through II.I of JMA’s motion for relief concerning the issue of 23 estoppel. As was indicated in that order, the proper interpretation of California Insurance Code 24 section 673(i) was addressed at length in the Court’s Order granting summary judgment to Mt. 25 Hawley following extensive prior briefing by both parties and would not be revisited in response 26 to the instant motion. 27 NO. 13-CV-04581 RS ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT 28 1 1 Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a motion to alter or 2 amend a judgment must be filed no later than 28 days after the entry of the judgment. Rule 60(b) 3 provides that such relief may be granted for the following reasons: “(1) mistake, inadvertence, 4 surprise, or excusable neglect; (2) newly discovered evidence . . . ; (3) fraud . . . ; (4) the 5 judgment is void; (5) the judgment has been satisfied, released or discharged; it is based on an 6 earlier judgment that has been reversed or vacated; or applying it prospectively is no longer 7 equitable; or (6) any other reason that justifies relief.” Neither JMA’s motion nor its brief in 8 reply set forth the grounds upon which it seeks relief. To the extent the motion might be 9 construed as one for relief under Rule 60(b)(6), JMA seeks a remedy that is to be exercised “sparingly as an equitable remedy to prevent manifest injustice.” United States v. Alpine Land & 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 Reservoir Co., 984 F.2d 1047, 1049 (9th Cir.1993). To obtain relief under Rule 60(b)(6), a party 12 must demonstrate “extraordinary circumstances” that prevented him or her from ably prosecuting 13 the case in the normal course. Lal v. California, 610 F.3d 518, 524 (9th Cir. 2010). Attempts to 14 re-litigate matters already decided by the court, or to introduce new arguments or evidence, are 15 disfavored. See Casey v. Albertson’s Inc., 362 F.3d 1254, 1261 (9th Cir. 2004) 16 Setting aside JMA’s renewed contentions relative to the Court’s interpretation of 17 Insurance Code section 673, JMA raises three basic arguments for relief. First, JMA argues that 18 California not federal law should be applied regarding the presumption of receipt of a properly- 19 mailed letter. Although the federal rules and related laws concerning evidence “ordinarily 20 govern in diversity cases,” “state evidence rules that are ‘intimately bound up’ with the state’s 21 substantive decision making must be given full effect by federal courts sitting in diversity.” 22 Feldman v. Allstate Ins. Co., 322 F.2d 660, 666 (9th Cir. 2003). JMA chose not to litigate the 23 question of which rule should apply and presents no reason now why its present arguments to the 24 contrary could not have been raised in the prior motion. In any event, even if JMA were correct 25 that the state rule should apply here, it would not be entitled to relief from the judgment as 26 explained below. 27 NO. 13-CV-04581 RS ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT 28 2 1 JMA argues that specific items of evidence noted in the Court’s prior Order are not 2 sufficient to prove that GGCG was on notice at the time it entered into the settlement agreement 3 with JMA that its policy with Mt. Hawley had been canceled. The crux of these arguments by 4 JMA is that notice to an independent insurance agent or broker is not sufficient to put the insured 5 on notice because a broker has no continuing obligation as the insured’s agent after the original 6 policy has been secured. The question of whether notice to the broker was sufficient was first 7 raised in Mt. Hawley’s opening brief in support of its motion for summary judgment, when it 8 cited Marsh & McLennan of California v. City of Los Angeles, 62 Cal. App. 3d 108 (1976), for 9 the well-settled proposition that an insurance broker acts as the agent for the insured, not the insurer, in a transaction. JMA had ample opportunity to challenge the relevance of this rule and 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 whether the broker continued to act in its capacity as an agent for the insured at all relevant times 12 in JMA’s response to Mt. Hawley and in the hearing concerning the parties’ cross-motions for 13 summary judgment. It did not do so then and presents no grounds to re-litigate the issue now. 14 Therefore, regardless of whether Mt. Hawley satisfied either the state or federal mailbox 15 presumption, the uncontested evidence that the agent knew the policy had been terminated was 16 sufficient to put the insured itself on notice. 17 Finally, JMA argues that it is entitled to a finding that Mt. Hawley is estopped from 18 asserting termination of the policy based on representations by its agents to agents of the insured 19 that the policy remained in effect through the original policy period. Again, this issue was 20 briefed by both parties on their cross-motions for summary judgment and was the subject of the 21 hearing on those motions. JMA presents no new arguments necessitating relief from the court’s 22 prior order. On that basis, JMA’s motion for relief (Dkt. No. 35) is denied. 23 24 IT IS SO ORDERED. 25 26 DATED: August 28, 2014 _______________________________ RICHARD SEEBORG United States District Judge 27 NO. 13-CV-04581 RS ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT 28 3

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