Williams v. Williams et al
ORDER AND REASONS denying 39 Motion for Reconsideration. Signed by Judge Jane Triche Milazzo. (ecm)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
MITCHELL WILLIAMS, ET AL.
ORDER AND REASONS
Before the Court is Defendants’ Motion for Reconsideration (Doc. 39).
For the following reasons, this Motion is DENIED.
Plaintiff Steven Williams brings this negligence action, as a result of
injuries sustained while accessing the attic at the home of his brother,
Defendant Mitchell Williams.1 He contends that one of the rungs of the attic
access ladder was broken, causing him to fall to the floor and sustain serious
injuries to his right shoulder. He alleges that the defect in the ladder posed an
Plaintiff has also filed suit against State Farm Fire and Casualty Company, the
insurer of Defendant Mitchell Williams.
unreasonable risk of harm. Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment,
alleging that there was no way that he knew or, in the exercise of reasonable
care, should have known of the defective ladder. The Court denied this motion,
finding that this issue presented a genuine issue of fact inappropriate for
determination on summary judgment. Defendants responded with the instant
Motion for Reconsideration, which Plaintiff opposes.
Courts in this District generally analyze motions to reconsider
interlocutory orders under Rule 59(e).2 A Rule 59(e) motion “[i]s not the proper
vehicle for rehashing evidence, legal theories, or arguments that could have
been offered or raised before the entry of judgment.”3 Instead, Rule 59(e)
serves the narrow purpose of correcting “‘manifest error[s] of law or fact or . . .
presenting newly discovered evidence.’“4 “‘Manifest error’ is one that ‘is plain
and indisputable, and that amounts to a complete disregard of the controlling
law.’”5 In the Fifth Circuit, altering, amending, or reconsidering a judgment
under Rule 59(e) “[i]s an extraordinary remedy that should be used sparingly.” 6
While district courts have “considerable discretion in deciding whether to grant
or deny a motion to alter a judgment,” denial is favored.7
See Castrillo v. Am. Home Mortg. Servicing, Inc., No. 09–4369, 2010 WL 1424398, at
*4 n.54 (E.D. La. Apr. 5, 2010) (collecting cases); Gulf Fleet, 282 F.R.D. at 152 n.40 (same).
3 Templet v. HydroChem, Inc., 367 F.3d 473, 479 (5th Cir. 2004) (citing Simon v.
United States, 891 F.2d 1154, 1159 (5th Cir. 1990)).
4 Advocare Int’l, LP v. Horizon Labs., Inc., 524 F.3d 679, 691 (5th Cir. 2008) (quoting
Rosenzweig v. Azurix Corp., 332 F.3d 854, 863 (5th Cir. 2003)).
5 Guy v. Crown Equip. Corp., 394 F.3d 320, 325 (5th Cir. 2004) (quoting Venegas–
Hernandez v. Sonolux Records, 370 F.3d 183, 195 (1st Cir. 2004)).
6 Templet, 367 F.3d at 479 (citations omitted).
7 Hale v. Townley, 45 F.3d 914, 921 (5th Cir. 1995).
LAW AND ANALYSIS
In this Motion, Defendants aver that the Court’s earlier order denying
their Motion was in error because (1) no reasonable jury could find that the
defendant should have known of the problem with the attic stairs and (2) the
Court’s order did not address Defendants’ contention that the broken ladder
step constituted an open and obvious condition. The Court will address these
arguments in turn.
I. Defendants’ Arguments Concerning Knowledge of the Defective
Condition are Not Appropriate for a Motion for Reconsideration
Defendants argue that this Court erroneously placed the burden on them
to explain what happened to the step. This is a mischaracterization of this
Court’s ruling. The Court merely found that the record was incomplete and
that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Defendant knew
or should have known of the defective condition. Defendants point the Court
to no new evidence and no intervening change in the law in support of their
motion for reconsideration on this issue. Accordingly, no grounds for relief
exist and the Motion is denied in this respect.
II. Defendants Arguments Relative to the “Open and Obvious” Nature
of the Condition Were Not Properly Before the Court
Defendants next asks for reconsideration because the Court “did not
address at all” their arguments that the broken step was open and obvious
under Louisiana law. The Court did not address this issue for the simple
reason that it was not raised in Defendants’ Motion. Instead, this argument
was raised for the first time in Defendants’ reply brief. New arguments and
legal theories raised for the first time in a reply brief cannot be considered by
the court.8 Accordingly, the Court’s earlier decision was not in error and
Defendants’ Motion for Reconsideration is denied.
For the foregoing reasons, Defendants’ Motion for Reconsideration is
New Orleans, Louisiana this 19th day of June, 2017.
JANE TRICHE MILAZZO
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Murillo v. Coryell Cty. Tradesmen, LLC, No. 15-3641, 2017 WL 1155166, at *3
(E.D. La. Mar. 28, 2017) (collecting cases).
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