Marquette Transportation Company, LLC v. Century Dream M/V et al
ORDER & REASONS that Plaintiff's 58 Motion for New Trial is DENIED. Signed by Judge Eldon E. Fallon on 3/29/17. (dno)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
MARQUETTE TRANSPORTATION CO, LLC
CENTURY DREAM M/V ET AL
ORDER AND REASONS
Before the Court is Plaintiff’s Motion to for a New Trial (R. Doc. 58). Defendant opposes
the motion. (R. Doc. 59). The Court, in its discretion, denies the motion.
Rule 59(a)(1)(B) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows the Court to grant a new
trial, where there has been a trial without a jury, when a reason exists for which “rehearings have
heretofore been granted in a suit of equity in federal court.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(a). Within the Fifth
Circuit, a motion for new trial must “clearly establish a manifest error of law or fact or must present
newly discovered evidence.” Simon v. United States, 891 F.2d 1154, 1159 (5th Cir.1990); see also
Pechon v. Louisiana Dep’t of Health & Hosps., No. CIV.A. 08-0664, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
65376, 2009 WL 2046766, at *3 (E.D. La. July 14, 2009) (citing Genova v. Town of Independence,
No. Civ. A. 97-726, 1998 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9511, 1998 WL 337891, at * 1 (E.D. La. June 22,
1998) (“A motion for new trial in a non-jury case or a petition for rehearing should be based upon
manifest error of law or mistake of fact; a judgment should not be set aside except for substantial
reasons.”). Rule 52(b) provides that, "[o]n a party's motion . . . the court may amend its findings—
or make additional findings—and may amend the judgment accordingly." Fed. R. Civ. P. 52(b).
Such a motion is made pursuant to Rule 59. Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(a)(2), -(e). It may be used "to correct
manifest errors of law or fact" but not "to relitigate old issues, to advance new theories, or to secure
a rehearing on the merits." Fontenot v. Mesa Petroleum Co., 791 F.2d 1207, 1219 (5th Cir. 1986).
Any new or amended findings of fact or conclusions of law must generally be based on evidence
and testimony already in the record. Id. Pursuant to Rule 59(a), whether to grant a new trial is left
to the sound discretion of the trial judge, and the court’s authority is large. In re Omega Protein,
Inc., 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47898, 2007 WL 1974309, *2 (W.D. La. July 2, 2007) (citing
Gasperini v. Center for Humanities, Inc., 518 U.S. 415. 433, 116 S. Ct. 2211, 135 L. Ed. 2d 659
In the instant case, Plaintiff argues a new trial is warranted because the Court did not
consider ‘crucial testimony’ from an independent eyewitness to the casualty, and because manifest
injustice will result if the Court does not consider this testimony. (R. Doc. 58-1 at 1). This Court
finds that Plaintiff fails to point to any issue that rises to the level of a manifest error. The
occurrence and details of the crash itself were not heavily disputed in this trial. Rather, the case
turned on who was at fault for allision. As stated in its finding of facts and conclusions of law, in
this case, the JOHN PAUL ECKSTEIN (Plaintiff) was the privileged, or stand-on vessel with
respect to the planned overtaking by the CENTURY DREAM (Defendant). See, in re Mid-South
Towing Company, 418 F.3d 526 (5th Cir. 2005). The JOHN PAUL ECKSTEIN, as the privileged
vessel, had the right and duty to orchestrate a safe overtaking or, if a safe overtaking is impossible,
to inform the overtaking vessel that no overtaking may occur. The JOHN PAUL ECKSTEIN did
not do so in this case. This failure was a breach of duty which caused the allision.
Furthermore, although this Court discussed the eyewitness deposition at issue with the
parties in its pretrial conference, it also made clear that all evidence and deposition testimony must
be offered at trial in order to be included in the trial record. No evidence or deposition testimony
is pre-admitted. Considering testimony that either party failed to offer into evidence would be
improper. Robinson v. Ensco Offshore Co., 116 F.3d 1477 (5th Cir. 1997). While both parties may
have believed the deposition had been admitted into evidence, that belief was mistaken. Even if it
were admitted, the deposition would not alter the Court’s conclusion. The Court declines to grant
a new trial under these circumstances.
For the foregoing reasons, IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Motion is DENIED.
New Orleans, Louisiana, this 29th day of March, 2017.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?