Leone v. General Motors LLC, et al
ORDER AND REASONS GRANTING 67 Motion Pursuant to FRCP Rule 60(a) and/or Alternatively Rule 59(e) to Correct and/or Alter or Amend the Final Judgment Issued on September 5, 2017. A motion for reconsideration of this Order, based on the appropriate Federal Rule of Civil Procedure, if any, must be filed within ten (10) days of this Order, as set forth in document. Signed by Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle on 10/18/2017. (jls)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
Individually and on behalf of
her minor child, Nikko Leone
GENERAL MOTORS, LLC, ET AL.
ORDER AND REASONS
Before the Court is Defendants’ “Joint Motion Pursuant to
FRCP Rule 60(a) and/or Alternatively Rule 59(e) to Correct and/or
Alter or Amend the Final Judgment Issued on September 5, 2017.”
Rec. Doc. 67. Plaintiffs did not file an opposition. For the
reasons discussed below,
IT IS ORDERED that the motion is GRANTED.
FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Plaintiffs were injured in a car accident while driving a
rental car. Rec. Doc. 1-1 at 2-5. Plaintiff Tanya Leone, on behalf
of herself and her minor child, brought various products liability
claims against the car manufacturer and rental car company. Id.;
Rec. Doc. 13. Defendants filed motions for summary judgment (Rec.
Docs. 60, 62), but Plaintiffs did not file opposition memoranda.
In an Order and Reasons, the Court granted Defendants’ motions for
summary judgment as unopposed and, after analyzing Defendants’
arguments and the law, also concluded that Defendants’ motions had
merit. Rec. Doc. 65 at 1, 4-14.
The Court ordered that Plaintiffs’ claims were dismissed
without prejudice and gave Plaintiffs 10 days to file a motion for
reconsideration and opposition memoranda to Defendants’ motions
for summary judgment. Id. at 14. Plaintiffs filed neither and the
Court issued a judgment on September 5, 2017. Rec. Doc. 66. The
judgment “ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that all claims in the
above-captioned matter by Plaintiff, Tanya Leone, are DISMISSED
WITHOUT PREJUDICE.” Id. Defendants filed the instant motion on
September 18, 2017, and noticed it for submission on October 4,
2017. Rec. Doc. 67, 67-2. Plaintiffs have not filed an opposition.
LAW AND ANALYSIS
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(a) allows a court to
“correct a clerical mistake or a mistake arising from oversight or
omission whenever one is found in a judgment, order, or other part
of the record.” “Because the court can exercise its authority under
Rule 60(a) at any time, it may do so only to provide a specific
and very limited type of relief” to address a situation where “the
judgment simply has not accurately reflected the way in which the
adjudicated.” Rivera v. PNS Stores, Inc., 647 F.3d 188, 193 (5th
Cir. 2011) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).
“[T]hree criteria . . . determine whether a mistake can be
corrected under Rule 60(a): (1) the nature of the mistake; (2) the
district court’s intent in entering the original judgment; and (3)
the effect of the correction on the parties’ substantial rights.”
Id. All three criteria weigh in favor of granting Defendants’
motion under Rule 60(a). See id. at 194-201. The Court turns first
to Defendants’ request that the judgment be corrected to reflect
the fact that Plaintiffs’ claims were dismissed with prejudice.
First, dismissing a party’s claim without prejudice instead
of with prejudice is the type of “clerical mistake” encompassed by
Rule 60(a). See id. at 194. “Rule 60(a) authorizes a district court
to modify a judgment so that the judgment reflects the necessary
implications of the court’s decision, and a motion for summary
judgment is necessarily granted with prejudice.” Id. at 194-95.
Second, Defendants seek “corrections that are consistent with
the court’s intent at the time it entered the judgment” Id. at
195. This intent is determined by examining “relevant documents
that were produced contemporaneously with the judgment, such as a
memorandum opinion or order . . . .” Id. at 196. In its Order and
Reasons, the Court set out the summary judgment standard and then
discussed Plaintiffs’ inability to demonstrate a genuine issue of
material fact. See Rec. Doc. 65 at 4-14. The Court concluded that
Plaintiffs “failed to present a genuine issue of material fact
warranting trial” as to one Defendant and that “there [wa]s no
genuine issue of material fact warranting trial” as to the two
other Defendants. Rec. Doc. 65 at 10, 14. Therefore, the Court
intended to dismiss Plaintiffs’ claims with prejudice. See Rivera,
647 F.3d at 197-98 (holding that a district court intended to
dismiss a plaintiff’s claims with prejudice because the district
court “discuss[ed] and appl[ied] the summary-judgment standard,
defeat[ed] [the plaintiff’s] claims”).
Third, correcting the judgment to reflect that Plaintiffs’
claims were dismissed with prejudice does not “require the [Court]
either to adjudicate an issue it has not previously reached or to
make a substantive modification to a prior adjudication.” Id. at
199. “Summary judgment is an adjudication on the merits, and a
definition, a dismissal with prejudice.” Id. at 200.
The same analysis holds true with respect to Defendants’
request that the judgment be corrected to reflect the fact that
both Tanya Leone’s and Nikko Leone’s claims were dismissed with
prejudice. The failure to include Nikko Leone’s name in the
judgment is an oversight similar to the “[c]lerical mistakes,
inaccuracies of transcription, inadvertent omissions, and errors
in mathematical calculation [that] are within Rule 60(a)’s scope.”
Id. at 193-94; see also Braun v. Ultimate Jetcharters, LLC, 828
F.3d 501, 515-17 (6th Cir. 2016); Fluoro Elec. Corp. v. Branford
Assocs., 489 F.2d 320, 323-26 (2d Cir. 1973).
Consistent with Defendants’ motions for summary judgment
(Rec. Docs. 60, 62), the Court intended to dismiss both Tanya’s
expectations and ha[s] significant effects” on the parties is
permissible under Rule 60(a) as long as “the record makes it clear
quotation marks omitted). Tanya Leone was the only Plaintiff
actually litigating the case; Nikko’s rights were asserted by his
mother on his behalf. See Rec. Doc. 13 at 1; Fed. R. Civ. P. 17.
The Court’s grounds for granting summary judgment—that Plaintiffs’
failure to develop evidence of a defect in the rental car precluded
them from satisfying their burden of proof as a matter of law—
apply to both Tanya’s and Nikko’s claims. Rec. Doc. 65 at 6-14.
Because the Court decided all “issue[s] of substantive law” with
respect to all Plaintiffs in its Order and Reasons, the Court can
correct the judgment to reflect that reality under Rule 60(a). See
Rivera, 647 F.3d at 199-200.
A motion for reconsideration of this Order, based on the
appropriate Federal Rule of Civil Procedure, if any, must be filed
within ten (10) days of this Order. The motion must be accompanied
by an opposition memorandum to the original motion. Because such
a motion would not have been necessary had timely opposition
memoranda been filed, the costs incurred in connection with the
motion, including attorney’s fees, may be assessed against the
party moving for reconsideration. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 16, 83. A
statement of costs and fees conforming to Local Rules 54.2 and
54.3 shall be submitted by all parties desiring to be awarded costs
and attorney’s fees no later than eight (8) days prior to the
noticed submission date of the motion for reconsideration.
New Orleans, Louisiana, this 18th day of October, 2017.
SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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