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Ford Motor Company, et al. v. Edgewood Properties

December 10, 2010

FORD MOTOR COMPANY, ET AL. PLAINTIFFS/COUNTERCLAIM DEFENDANTS,
v.
EDGEWOOD PROPERTIES, INC. DEFENDANT/COUNTERCLAIMANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Salas, United States Magistrate Judge:

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION ON MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION :

I. B ACKGROUND

Pending before this Court is Defendant Golder Associates, Inc.'s ("Golder") motion for reconsideration of the Court's September 28, 2010 order (Docket Entry No. 361, the "Order") granting Edgewood's motion to amend its pleading to add a claim for violations of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act against Golder (the "NJCFA Claim") (Docket Entry No. 367, the "Motion"). For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant the motion.

This case arises out of the distribution of contaminated concrete from the demolition of a Ford assembly plant in Edison, New Jersey. Ford and Edgewood entered into a contract whereby Ford agreed to provide 50,000 cubic yards of concrete to Edgewood in exchange for Edgewood hauling it off the site. The parties later determined that the concrete was contaminated. As such, Ford brought claims against Edgewood under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 9601 et seq. and Section 58:10-23, 11f (a)(2) of the New Jersey Spill Act for contribution and indemnification for all costs as provided under the contract. Edgewood, in turn, asserted cross-claims, counter-claims and a third-party complaint against Ford and other parties, such as Golder, which include claims for breach of contract, contribution, negligent misrepresentation, and civil conspiracy.

On or about March 12, 2010, Edgewood filed a motion for leave to file its First Consolidated Amended Counterclaims, Cross-claims, Third-Party Complaint and First Amended Complaint ("First Motion," Docket Entry No. 299). Thereafter, on June 14, 2010, Edgewood filed a superseding motion to file the Corrected First Consolidated Amended Counterclaims, Cross-claims, Third Party Complaint and First Amended Complaint (Docket Entry No. 327, the "Second Motion"). In the First Motion, Edgewood sought to amend its pleadings to (1) name seven additional entities as parties; (2) add a claim for violations of the NJCFA against Golder; (3) supplement and clarify the factual allegations; (4) delete previously dismissed claims and add notations to those claims which were previously upheld; and (5) assert in one pleading all of Edgewood's claims. In the Second Motion, Edgewood sought to (1) add a third party defendant, Alberici Constructors and (2) replead the Spill Act claims that were inadvertently omitted from the First Motion (Docket Entry No. 327, the "Corrected Pleading").

On September 17, 2010, the Court heard oral argument on the First and Second Motions and ruled in part on both motions. See generally Docket Entry No. 359, Transcript dated September 17, 2010 (the "Transcript"). On September 24, 2010, the Court issued the Order, referencing the transcript from the proceeding and ruling on the remaining issues. In relevant part, at the September 17, 2010 argument, the Court ruled that Edgewood had not unduly delayed in seeking to amend its pleadings to add the NJCFA Claim, but reserved on whether the NJCFA Claim was futile. See Transcript at 124:2 to 9. Specifically, the Court found that Edgewood had not unduly delayed based on Edgewood's representation to the Court that it had relied upon the October 2009 testimony from Andrew Lewis, a Golder employee, to adequately plead the NJCFA Claim. In the Order, the Court found that the NJCFA Claim was not futile and granted Edgewood's motion.*fn1 Thereafter, on October 13, 2010, Golder filed the Motion seeking reconsideration of this Court's ruling permitting Edgewood to plead the NJCFA Claim and the Court heard oral argument on November 17, 2010.

II. D ISCUSSION

A. Legal Standard

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not expressly recognize motions for "reconsideration." See S.C. v. Deptford Twp. Bd. of Ed., 248 F. Supp. 2d 368, 380 (D.N.J. 2003). In the District of New Jersey, a motion for reconsideration is governed by Local Civil Rule 7.1(i). A motion for reconsideration may be made for one of three reasons: (1) an intervening change in the controlling law has occurred, (2) evidence not previously available has become available, or (3) it is necessary to correct a clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice. Database Am., Inc. v. Bellsouth Advertising & Publishing Corp., 825 F. Supp. 1216, 1220 (D.N.J. 1993). Accordingly, "the motion may address only 'dispositive factual matters or controlling decisions of law' that were presented to, but not considered by, the court in the course of making the decision at issue." Yurecko v. Port Auth. Trans-Hudson Corp., 279 F. Supp. 2d 606, 609 (D.N.J. 2003) (citing Resorts Int'l. Inc. v. Greate Bay Hotel & Casino, Inc., 830 F.Supp. 826, 831 (D.N.J. 1992)).

Importantly, purported errors of law claimed by the parties are, by themselves, insufficient to sustain such a motion such that the court should alter its judgment. Oritani Sav. & Loan Ass'n v. Fidelity Deposit Co., 744 F. Supp. 1311, 1314 (D.N.J. 1990) ("[a] motion for reconsideration is improper when it is used to ask the Court to rethink what it had already thought through -- rightly or wrongly") (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Nonetheless, "a court has the power to revisit prior decisions of its own" to correct an "initial decision [that] was clearly erroneous and would work a manifest injustice." McGarvey v. Penske Auto. Group, Inc., Civil Action No. 08-5610, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32228, at *8 - *9 (D.N.J. Mar. 29, 2010) (citing Christianson v. Colt Indus. Operating Corp., 486 U.S. 800, 817 (1988)).

Golder seeks reconsideration of the Order on the basis of manifest injustice. In support, Golder argues that the Court (1) overlooked Edgewood's pleadings and documents; (2) relied upon erroneous statements by Edgewood's counsel; and (3) ignored Edgewood's failure to explain its delay and the prejudice to Golder. See Defendants [sic], Golder Associate[s], Inc.'s Motion for Reconsideration of the Court's September 28, 2010 Order ("Golder Brief") at 2. In opposition, Edgewood contends that (1) Golder has not satisfied the enumerated standard to prevail on a motion for reconsideration and (2) the Court properly considered all of the relevant facts and law when granting Edgewood's motion to add the NJCFA Claim. See Opposition of Edgewood Properties, Inc. and Other Entities to Motion for Reconsideration of the Court's September 28, 2010 Order Filed by Golder Associates, Inc. ("Edgewood Brief") at 7.

At the September 17, 2010 oral argument, the Court stated that "based on the representations by Ms. Gaede [Edgewood's counsel] that the Lewis deposition in the fall of 2009 -- in October of 2009 shed light on -- on the facts, and that they learned new information. I'm - I'm not going to find that it was -- that Edgewood unduly delayed." Transcript at 124:2 to 6. Therefore, because Edgewood's counsel's representations are "dispositive factual matters" upon which the Court based its decision, the Court will focus its analysis on its reliance upon Edgewood's counsel representations, namely the substance of the Lewis deposition and the fact that Edgewood relied upon the facts learned in the deposition to plead the NJCFA Claim. In doing so, the Court will reconsider its review of Edgewood's pleadings and documents. After reviewing the Order, the Transcript and the arguments presented in the Motion for ...


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