ZAHL, M.D. v. WARHAFTIG et al
OPINION. Signed by Judge Jose L. Linares on 6/8/15. (dc, )
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
KENNETH ZAHL, M.D.
Civil Action No. 13-1345 (iLL) (lAD)
JERI L. WARHAFTIG, et. al.,
LINARES, District Judge.
This matter comes before the Court by way of Plain
tiff Kenneth Zahi M.D. (“Plaintiff’)’s
motion for reconsideration of the Court’s March 16,
2015 Order granting Defendants’ motion for
summary judgment and dismissing Plaintiffs Com
plaint in its entirety with prejudice. (ECF No.
40). The Court has considered the parties’ submissio
ns in support of and in opposition to the
instant motion and decides this matter without oral
argument pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
The facts of this matter were described in this Cou
rt’s March 16, 2015 Opinion and in the
interest ofjudicial economy the facts will not be
restated in this Opinion. On March 30, 2015,
Plaintiff filed a Motion for Reconsideration and
now seeks reconsideration of this Court’s March
16, 2015 Order granting Defendants’ motion for
summary judgment and dismissing Plaintiffs
Complaint in its entirety with prejudice.
II. LEGAL STANDARD
“Reconsideration is an extraordinary remedy” and should
be granted “very sparingly.”
See L. Civ. R. 7.1(i) cmt. 6(d); see also Fellenz v. Lombard
Investment Corp., 400 F.Supp.2d
681, 683 (D.N.J.2005). A motion for reconsideration “may
not be used to re-litigate old matters”
or argue new matters that could have been raised before the
original decision was reached. See,
e.g., P. Schoenjeld Asset Mgmt., LLCv. Cendant Corp., 161
F.Supp.2d 349, 352 (D.N.J.2001).
To prevail on a motion for reconsideration, the moving
party must “set [ j forth concisely the
matter or controlling decisions which the party believes
the Judge or Magistrate Judge has
overlooked.” L. Civ. R. 7.1.
The Court will reconsider a prior order only where a diffe
rent outcome is justified by: (1)
an intervening change in law; (2) the availability of new evid
ence not previously available; or (3)
a need to correct a clear error of law or manifest injustice.
See N. River Ins. Co. v. CIGNA
Reinsurance, Co., 52 F.3d 1194, 1218 (3d Cir.1995). A
court commits clear error of law “only if
the record cannot support the findings that led to the rulin
g.” ABS Brokerage Servs. v. Penson
Fin. Servs., Inc., No. 09—4590, 2010 WL 3257992, at *6
(D.N.J. Aug.16, 2010) (citing United
States v. Grape, 549 F.3d 591, 603—04 (3d Cir.2008)
“Thus, a party must
demonstrate that (1)
the holdings on which its bases its request were without
support in the record, or (2) would result
in ‘manifest injustice’ if not addressed.” Id. “Mere ‘disa
greement with the Court’s decision’ does
not suffice.” Id. (quoting P. Schoenfeld Asset Mgmt. LLC
v. Cendant Corp., 161 F.Supp.2d 349,
353 (D.N,J.2001)). Moreover, when the assertion is that
the Court overlooked something, the
Court must have overlooked “some dispositive factual
or legal matter that was presented to it.”
McGovern v. City ofJersey City, No. 98—5 186, 2008
WL 58820, at *2 (D.N.J.Jan.2, 2008).
Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this matter on March 5, 2013,
alleging violations of his
rights pursuant to the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendm
ents of the United States Constitution,
State and Federal RICO claims, and a claim for civil conspirac
y. While Defendants initially filed
a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Proc
edure 1 2(b)(6), this Court converted
that motion into a motion for summary judgment pursuant to
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. The Court then
issued a written opinion on March 16, 2016 granting sum
mary judgment for Defendants. The
Court found that Plaintiff was precluded from re-litigati
ng the claims arising from Zahi I and
Zahi II because the claims were barred by the doctrine of
claim preclusion and by this Court’s
previous Younger abstention. Zahi v. Warhaflig, No. 13-013
45 (D.N.J. March 16, 2015). Plaintiff
now seeks reconsideration, or to alter or amend the Court’s Marc
h 16, 2015 dismissal with
prejudice, in addition to recusal of Judge Linares, Magistra
te Judge Dickson and Deputy
Attorney General (“DAG”) David Puteska.
The Court denies Plaintiffs motion for reconsideration as
it fails to satisfy the
requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e) and Local Rule 7.1(i).
Here, Plaintiff fails to identify any
matters or decisions that have been overlooked by this Court.
Instead, Plaintiff merely echoes the
same factual allegations that have previously been cons
idered by this Court. While it is true that
the Court does not mention Plaintiff’s argument that Defe
ndants electronically tampered with the
AU’s decision in the Zahi 11 matter, it is also true that
the Court was not considering the merits
of Plaintiffs claims. Instead, the Court found that Plain
tiff’s claims were barred by the doctrine
of claim preclusion and by the Court’s previous Younger
abstention. Despite this, Plaintiff
continues to argue that his Complaint was well pleaded,
as opposed to asserting any clear error
of law in the Court’s findings of claim preclusion and
Younger abstention. It “is improper on a
motion for reconsideration to ask the Court to rethink what
it has already thought through,
whether rightly or wrongly[.j” S.C. v. Depfod Twp. Bd. ofEduc., 248 F.Supp. 2d 368, 381
(D.N.J. 2003). Therefore, Plaintiff’s motion is denied.
Similarly, Plaintiff argues that DAG Puteska must be disqualified under New Jersey Rule
of Professional Conduct (“NJ RPC”) 3.7 because he is likely to be a necessary witness at trial.
Yet, as Defendants correctly note, Plaintiff fails to provide any rational explanation as to how or
why DAG Puteska is likely to be a necessary witness in this case. Without a further legal and
rational explanation, nothing warrants DAG Puteska’s disqualification.
Furthermore, Plaintiff argues that both Judge Linares and Magistrate Judge Dickson
should disqualify themselves under 28 U.S.C.
§ 455(a). “The test for recusal under 28 U.S.C. §
45 5(a) is whether a reasonable person, with knowledge of all the facts, would conclude that the
judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” In re Kensington Int’l Ltd., 353 F.3d 211,
224 (3d Cir. 2003). While it is apparent that Plaintiff disagrees with many rulings that Judge
Linares and Judge Dickson may have made throughout this matter, “[a]dverse rulings alone
generally do not constitute a sufficient basis for holding that a judge’s impartiality is in doubt.”
In re Rouse, 582 Fed. Appx. 132 (3d Cir. 2014). Therefore, because Plaintiff offers no evidence
of an extrajudicial source of bias, there is nothing before the Court which warrants the recusal of
both Judge Linares and Judge Dickson.
Plaintiff has not met the high standard required to achieve success on a motion for
reconsideration. For the reasons stated in this Opinion, Plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration is
denied. An appropriate Order accompanies this Opinion.
tJfiited States District Judge
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