Pledger v. UHS-Pruitt Corporation
ORDER denying 51 Motion for Reconsideration. Signed by US Magistrate Judge Robert B. Jones, Jr. on 4/7/2014. Copy sent to the plaintiff via US Mail. (Edwards, S.)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
UHS-PRUITT CORPORATION, THE
OAKS AT MAYVIEW a/k/a MAYVIEW )
CONVALESCENT HOME, INC. a!k/a
MAYVIEW CONVALESCENT CENTER, )
This matter comes before the court on Plaintiffs motion to reconsider this court's order of
February 20,2014, imposing monetary sanctions of$350.00 on Plaintiff for failing to provide her
initial disclosures in accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. [DE-51].
Given the limited scope of the pending motion, the court will recite only those facts giving
rise to Plaintiffs motion and incorporate by reference the facts and procedural history as set out in
its order ofFebruary 20, 2014. [DE-47]. On June 10,2013, the parties submitted a joint discovery
plan ("Discovery Plan"), which provided, among other things, that the parties would exchange the
information required by Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(a)(l) by July 7, 2013. [DE-15]
2. On June 14, 2013,
the court approved the parties' Discovery Plan in the court's Scheduling Order. [DE-16]. On
August 8, 2013, Defendants' counsel sent Plaintiff a letter requesting that Plaintiff provide her initial
disclosures and other outstanding discovery responses. [DE-17 -7]. Plaintiff responded that the
parties had agreed in a phone call that initial disclosures would be due in August. [DE-17-8].
On August 28, 2013, Defendants filed a motion to compel, indicating that Plaintiff's initial
disclosures and responses to discovery had not been received. [DE-17]. The court thereafter noticed
a hearing on the motion, held October 11, 2013, at which Defendants' counsel appeared; Plaintiff
did not appear at the hearing. On October 18, 2013, the Clerk of Court received a telephone call
from Plaintiff advising that Plaintiff had received that day the court's order setting the case for
hearing. On October 24,2013, Plaintiff filed a document entitled "Plaintiff's Motion to Continue"
in which Plaintiff states that she received the court's hearing notice on October 18, 2013, which was
the last piece of mail she had received from the court. [DE-23].
On November 6, 2013, this court held a hearing on Plaintiff's motion at which counsel for
Defendants appeared in person and Plaintiff appeared by telephone. At the conclusion of the
hearing, the court directed Plaintiff to provide her initial disclosures and respond to Defendants'
written discovery requests within fifteen days.
On December 5, 2013, Defendants filed a motion for sanctions seeking dismissal of
Plaintiff's case based on Plaintiff's incomplete and inadequate responses to Defendants' discovery
requests and Plaintiff's failure to serve Rule 26(a)(l) initial disclosures on Defendants as required
by Rule 26(a)(2) and as ordered by the court. On February 20, 2014, the court held a hearing on the
motion. At the hearing the court declined to impose the sanction of dismissal on Plaintiff, due in part
to the fact that Plaintiff's failure to comply with the court's prior orders regarding responding to
Defendants' discovery was a result of problems receiving mail. Alternatively, the court considered
the motion for sanctions as a motion to compel Plaintiff to respond to Defendants' written discovery
requests and to make her Rule 26(a)(l) initial disclosures. As a sanction for failing to provide her
initial disclosures, the court ordered Plaintiffto pay $350.00 to Defendant. [DE-47]. On March 6,
2014, Plaintiff filed the instant motion seeking the court to reconsider its order. [DE-51].
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide that "any order or other decision ... may be
revised at any time before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all the claims and all the parties'
rights and liabilities." Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b). However, no clear standard exists for the analysis of
a motion for reconsideration under Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b) other than its resolution "committed to the
discretion ofthe court." Am. Canoe Ass'n, Inc. v. Murphy Farms, Inc., 326 F.3d 505,515 (4th Cir.
2003) (citations omitted); Fleetwood Transp. Corp. v. Packaging Corp. of Am., No. 1:10MC58,
2011 WL 6217061, at *5 (M.D.N.C. Dec. 14, 2011). In contrast, under Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e), a
motion to alter or amend a final judgment may be granted "( 1) to accommodate an intervening
change in controlling law; (2) to account for new evidence not available at trial; or (3) to correct a
clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice." Pac. Ins. Co. v. Am. Nat'! Fire Ins. Co., 148 F.3d
396,403 (4th Cir. 1998).
Although the Fourth Circuit has made it clear that the standards governing reconsideration
offinaljudgments under Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e) are not determinative ofthe reconsideration of an
interlocutory decision, see Saint Annes Dev. Co., Inc. v. Trabich, No. 10-2078,2011 WL 3608454,
at *3 (4th Cir. Aug. 17, 2011) ("The power to reconsider or modify interlocutory rulings 'is
committed to the discretion ofthe district court,' and that discretion is not cabined by the 'heightened
standards for reconsideration' governing final orders.") (quoting Am. Canoe, 326 F.3d at 514-15),
courts have considered those factors in guiding their discretion under Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b). See
BoykinAnchorCo., Inc. v. Wong, No. 5:10-CV-591-FL, 2012 WL 937182, at *2 (E.D.N.C. Mar. 20,
2012) (applying standard to court's reconsideration of its order denying plaintiffs motion to
compel); Mesmer v. Rezza, No. DKC 10-1053,2011 WL 5548990, at *3 (D.Md. Nov. 14, 2011)
("While the standards articulated in Rules 59(e) and 60(b) are not binding in an analysis of Rule
54(b) motions, ... courts frequently look to these standards for guidance in considering such motions
.... "(internal citations omitted)). Courts have also held that "[a] motion to reconsider is appropriate
when the court has obviously misapprehended a party's position or the facts or applicable law, or
when the party produces new evidence that could not have been obtained through the exercise of due
diligence." Madison River Mgmt. Co. v. Bus. Mgmt. Software Corp., 402 F. Supp. 2d 617, 619
(M.D.N.C. 2005); Akeva LLC v. Adidas Am., Inc., 385 F. Supp. 2d 559, 566 (M.D.N.C. 2005).
However, the court must also recognize that "[p ]ublic policy favors an end to litigation and
recognizes that efficient operation requires the avoidance of re-arguing the questions that have
already been decided." Akeva, 385 F. Supp. 2d at 565. To this end, "a motion to reconsider is not
proper where it only asks the Court to rethink its prior decision, or presents a better or more
compelling argument that the party could have presented in the original briefs on the matter."
Fleetwood, 2011 WL 6217061, at *6 (quoting Hinton v. Henderson, No. 3:10-cv-505, 2011 WL
2142799, at *1 (W.D.N.C. May 31, 2011); see DirecTV, Inc. v. Hart, 366 F. Supp. 2d 315,317
(E.D.N.C. 2004) (ruling that a motion to reconsider is improper where the motion "merely asks the
court 'to rethink what the Court had already thought through-rightly or wrongly.'") (quoting Harsco
Corp. v. Zlotnicki, 779 F.2d 906, 909 (3d Cir. 1985)).
Plaintiff argues that the monetary sanction ordered by the court, which she has apparently
already paid, is not "just." [DE-51]. Rather, Plaintiff contends that the information that she would
have provided by way of her initial disclosures is contained in documents which are in Defendants'
possession. Plaintiff suggests therefore that because Defendants already have this information,
which she fails to identify, that Plaintiff need not provide her disclosures in compliance with Fed.
R. Civ. P. 26(a)(l). Plaintiff raised this argument during the court's February 20 hearing, and as
explained then, Plaintiffs reasoning does not excuse her from complying with Fed. R. Civ. P.
26(a)(l ). Plaintiff also asks the court to reconsider its order based on her difficulty in understanding
the manner in which Defendants have numbered the documents produced in discovery. The nature
of Plaintiffs difficulty and the manner in which the discovery documents have been numbered is
unclear from Plaintiffs motion. Nonetheless, as presented, such argument presents no grounds to
support the court's reconsideration of its order on sanctions.
For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiffs motion to reconsider its order requiring her to pay
Defendant $350.00 as a sanction for failing to provide her initial disclosures in accordance with Fed.
R. Civ. P. 26(a)(l) is DENIED.
So ordered, the 7th day of April 2014.
United States Magistrate Judge
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