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P. Schoenfeld Asset Management LLC v. Cendant Corp

August 27, 2001

P. SCHOENFELD ASSET MANAGEMENT LLC, ON BEHALF OF ITSELF AND ALL OTHERS: SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFF
v.
CENDANT CORP., WALTER A. FORBES, E. KIRK SHELTON, COSMO CORIGLIANO, CHRISTOPHER MCLEOD AND ERNST & YOUNG, LLP, DEFENDANTS
GEORGE SEMERENKO, ON BEHALF OF HIMSELF: AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFF
v.
CENDANT CORP., WALTER A. FORBES, E. KIRK SHELTON, COSMO CORIGLIANO, CHRISTOPHER MCLEOD AND ERNST & YOUNG, LLP, DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Walls, District Judge

FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

Plaintiffs in the above consolidated actions move for reargument of this Court's May 7, 2001 ruling on various defendants' renewed motions to dismiss the complaints. *fn1 Plaintiffs also seek leave to amend their complaint. The motion for leave to amend the complaint will be addressed by a separate opinion. Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 78, the motion for reargument is decided without oral argument and is denied.

BACKGROUND *fn2

On May 7, 2001, this Court granted in part and denied in part defendants' motions to dismiss the above-consolidated complaints. *fn3 The Court held, among other things, that plaintiffs had failed to plead any facts which raised an inference of scienter sufficient to establish liability against Cendant for post-April 15, 1998 purchasers. See P. Schoenfeld Asset Management, LLC v. Cendant Corp., No. 98-4734, 2001 WL 477096 (D.N.J. May 7, 2001). Specifically, the Court held that plaintiffs' allegations about Cendant's issuance of certain press releases did not sufficiently allege scienter because plaintiffs (a) had not plead facts which raised an inference that they were false and misleading (May 5, 1998 press release), or (b) had failed to plead facts which raised an inference the press releases were made with knowledge or reckless disregard of their false or misleading nature (April 15, April 27 and May 5 press releases). See id. at *18. Furthermore, plaintiffs' allegations that Cendant's repeated statements of intention to close the ABI deal were false and misleading because Cendant had no intent to do so failed to state facts from which one could infer those statements were false or misleading. See id. at 19. Finally, this Court found that plaintiffs had failed to plead any motive and opportunity sufficient to raise an inference of scienter. See id. at 20-22.

Plaintiffs move for reargument of the portion of this Court's holding which limited plaintiffs' claims against Cendant to the period ending April 15, 1998. Plaintiffs contend that this Court overlooked the fact that it also found that to the extent liability, if any, could be established for purchasers after April 15, 1998, the July 14, 1998 press release was sufficient to correct any alleged misrepresentations in the April 15 press release, and thus the class could only rely on the April 15, 1998 announcement of accounting irregularities until July 14, 1998. See Plaintiff Br., at 2, citing Schoenfeld, 2001 WL 477096 at *1. Because defendants Walter Forbes ("Forbes") and Cosmo Corigliano ("Corigliano") did not renew their motions to dismiss, this Court did not address the allegations of scienter against those defendants. Plaintiffs now argue that because the Court held that the class could rely upon alleged misrepresentations in the April 15 announcement until July 14, 1998, the Class period as to Forbes and Corigliano extends to July 14, 1998. Because the class period extends to July 14, and because of the potential control person liability of Forbes and Corigliano under Section 20(a) for the period ending July 14, plaintiffs urge that the Complaint must be sufficient against Cendant for that period.

Cendant responds that the motion for reargument is defective, because plaintiffs did not raise in their opposition to the renewed motions to dismiss the argument that Forbes and Corigliano's failure to seek dismissal of plaintiffs' control person liability claims against them created liability for Cendant after April 15, 1998. Accordingly, Cendant says that the Court could not have "overlooked" this fact in its decision. Second, Cendant claims that plaintiffs' argument is flawed because it is based upon the presumption that a primary violation of the securities laws may be derivative of an individual defendant's secondary control person liability.

DISCUSSION

Standard for Reargument

Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e), a litigant may move to alter or amend a judgment within ten days of its entry. Similarly, Local Civil Rule 7.1(g) allows a party to seek a motion for reargument or reconsideration of "matters or controlling decisions which counsel believes the Judge or Magistrate Judge has overlooked." The Third Circuit holds that the "purpose of a motion for reconsideration is to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence." Harsco Corp. v. Zlotnicki, 779 F.2d 906, 909 (3rd Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 476 U.S. 1171 (1986).

Reconsideration motions, however, may not be used to relitigate old matters, nor to raise arguments or present evidence that could have been raised prior to the entry of judgment. Charles A. Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Mary Kay Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure: Civil 2d § 2810.1. "A party seeking reconsideration must show more than a disagreement with the Court's decision, and `recapitulation of the cases and arguments considered by the court before rendering its original decision fails to carry the moving party's burden.'" G-69 v. Degnan, 748 F. Supp. 274, 275 (D.N.J. 1990) (quoting Carteret Savings Bank, F.A. v. Shushan, 721 F. Supp. 705, 709 (D.N.J. 1989), appeal dismissed, 919 F.2d 225 (3rd Cir. 1992)).

Such motions will only be granted where (1) an intervening change in the law has occurred, (2) new evidence not previously available has emerged, or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or prevent a manifest injustice arises. North River Ins. Co. v. CIGNA Reinsurance Co., 52 F.3d 1194, 1218 (3rd Cir. 1995). Because reconsideration of a judgment after its entry is an extraordinary remedy, requests pursuant to these rules are to be granted "sparingly," Maldonado v. Lucca, 636 F. Supp. 621 (D.N.J. 1986); Charles A. Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Mary Kay Kane, supra, at § 2810.1, and only when "dispositive factual matters or controlling decisions of law" were brought to the court's attention but not considered. Pelham v. United States, 661 F. Supp. 1063, 1065 (D.N.J. 1987).

Analysis

Plaintiffs' argument has no merit. First, at no time did this Court determine whether plaintiffs had satisfied the Rule 9(b) and PSLRA standards for pleading scienter and fraud with particularity against Corligliano or Forbes, because those defendants did not renew their motions. Nor did plaintiffs at any time in the briefing of the earlier motions seek adjudication of that issue or argue that the class period as to Cendant extended as far as the class period did as to the individual non-moving defendants. Moreover, plaintiffs never argued that Corigliano's or Forbes' potential control person liability, if any, for the period between April 15, 1998 and July 14, 1998 created direct liability against Cendant. Accordingly, plaintiffs' motion for reargument is nothing more than ...


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