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Camden Vicinage v. Good Wheels

August 3, 2011

CAMDEN VICINAGE
MARYANN COTTRELL AND RICHARD HOLLAND, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
GOOD WHEELS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kugler, United States District Judge:

NOT FOR PUBLICATION (Doc. No. 39)

OPINION

This matter is before the Court on the motion by Plaintiff Richard Holland for reconsideration under Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e) and Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b) of this Court's decision granting Defendants' motion for summary judgment. Because Plaintiff fails to show that the Court overlooked dispositive factual matters or controlling decisions of law in reaching its prior decision, Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration is DENIED.

I. BACKGROUND

In April 2008, Plaintiff, a self-described advocate for the disabled, sued Good Wheels car dealership for violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), New Jersey's Law Against Discrimination ("NJLAD"), and the New Jersey Civil Rights Act ("NJCRA"), as well as false imprisonment. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants banned him from entering Good Wheels because he engaged in protected activities by filing citizen complaints against Defendants for violations of handicapped parking regulations. Defendants claim that Plaintiff was banned from their premises because he was disrupting their customers.

In June 2010, Plaintiff moved for summary judgment on his ADA and NJLAD claims, and Defendants moved for summary judgment denying all of Plaintiff's claims. In July 2010, the parties submitted their briefs. Meanwhile, Plaintiff continued his handicap advocacy efforts. Between August and November 2010, while Defendants' motion was pending, Plaintiff filed citizen complaints against Good Wheels and documented more examples of Defendants' alleged handicapped parking violations, including a video recording of a verbal altercation between Plaintiff and Defendants. Plaintiff did not submit evidence of those alleged events to the Court before the Court decided the parties' pending summary judgment motions, nor did Plaintiff move to amend the Complaint to incorporate any new developments or assert any new claims.

In March 2011, the Court denied Plaintiff's motion, and granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants because Plaintiff failed to offer evidence that Defendants' reason for banning him was pretextual. Plaintiff now moves for reconsideration, arguing that: (1) the Court should consider Defendants' recent acts and statements as new evidence of pretext; (2) there was evidence in the record that the Court did not consider; (3) the Court improperly applied the standard for summary judgment and the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting framework; and (4) the Court improperly applied the mixed-motive analysis to Plaintiff's claims. (Pl.'s Br. in Supp. of Recons. at 8-9). As part of Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration, he also seeks relief from summary judgment pursuant to Rule 60(b)(1) based on mistake and excusable neglect. (Id.).

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A. Rule 59(e)

Motions for reconsideration are not expressly recognized in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See United States v. Compaction Sys. Corp., 88 F. Supp. 2d 339, 345 (D.N.J. 1999). Generally, a motion for reconsideration is treated as a motion to alter or amend judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e), or as a motion for relief from judgment or order under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b). See id. In the District of New Jersey, Local Civil Rule 7.1(i) governs motions for reconsideration. See Byrne v. Calastro, No. 05-68, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64054, at *7 (D.N.J. Aug. 28, 2006).

Local Civil Rule 7.1(i) permits a party to seek reconsideration by the Court of matters which the party "believes the Judge or Magistrate Judge has overlooked" when it ruled on the motion. See L. Civ. R. 7.1(i). "The standard for [reconsideration] is high, and reconsideration is to be granted only sparingly." United States v. Jones, 158 F.R.D. 309, 314 (D.N.J. 1994). The movant has the burden of demonstrating either: "(1) an intervening change in the controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence that was not available when the court [issued its order]; or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice." Max's Seafood Cafe v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999) (citing N. River Ins. Co. v. CIGNA Reinsurance Co., 52 F.3d 1194, 1218 (3d Cir. 1995)). "The word 'overlooked' is the operative term in the Rule." Bowers v. NCAA, 130 F. Supp. 2d 610, 612 (D.N.J. 2001) (citation omitted); Compaction Sys. Corp., 88 F. Supp. 2d at 345. The Court will grant a motion for reconsideration only where it overlooked a factual or legal issue that may alter the disposition of the matter. See Compaction Sys. Corp., 88 F. Supp. 2d at 345; see also L. Civ. R. 7.1(i).

Ordinarily, a motion for reconsideration may address only those matters of fact or issues of law that the parties presented to, but were not considered by, the court in the course of making the decision at issue. See Student Pub. Interest Grp. v. Monsanto Co., 727 F. Supp. 876, 878 (D.N.J.), aff'd, 891 F.2d 283 (3d Cir. 1989). Thus, reconsideration is not to be used as a means of expanding the record to include matters not originally before the court. See Bowers, 130 F. Supp. 2d at 613; Resorts Int'l. v. Great Bay Hotel and Casino, Inc., 830 F. Supp. 826, 831 & n.3 (D.N.J. 1992); Egloff v. New Jersey Air Nat'l Guard, 684 F. Supp. 1275, 1279 (D.N.J. 1988). Absent unusual circumstances, a court should reject new evidence that was not presented when the court made the contested decision. See Resorts Int'l, 830 F. Supp. at 831 n.3. A party seeking to introduce new evidence on reconsideration bears the burden of first demonstrating that the evidence was unavailable or unknown at the time of the original decision. See Levinson v. Regal Ware, Inc., No. 89-1298, 1989 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18373, at *2 (D.N.J. Dec. 1, 1989). Moreover, L. Civ. R. 7.1(i) does not allow parties to restate arguments that the court has already considered. See G-69 v. Degnan, 748 F. Supp. 274, 275 (D.N.J. 1990). Thus, a difference of opinion with the court's decision should be dealt with through the normal appellate process. See Bowers, 130 F. Supp. 2d at 612 (citations omitted); Florham Park Chevron, Inc. v. Chevron U.S.A., Inc., 680 F. Supp. 159, 162 (D.N.J. 1988); see also Chicosky v. Presbyterian Med. Ctr., 979 F. Supp. 316, 318 (D.N.J. 1997); NL Indus., Inc. v. Commercial Union Ins. Co., 935 F. Supp. 513, 516 (D.N.J. 1996) ("Reconsideration motions . . . may not be used to re-litigate old matters, or to raise arguments or present evidence that could have been raised prior to the entry of judgment."). In other words, "[a] motion for reconsideration should not provide the parties with an opportunity for a second bite at the apple." Tischio v. Bontex, Inc., 16 F. Supp. 2d 511, 533 (D.N.J. 1998) (citation omitted).

B. Rule 60(b)

Rule 60(b) provides, in pertinent part: "On motion and just terms, the court may relieve a party or its legal representative from a final judgment, order, or proceeding for the following reasons: (1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect; (2) newly discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence, could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b) . . . or (6) any other reason that justifies relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b). "The general purpose of Rule 60(b) . . . is to strike a proper balance between the conflicting principles that litigation must be brought to an end and that justice must be done." Boughner v. Sec'y of Health, Educ. & Welfare, 572 F.2d 976, 977 (3d Cir. 1978). A ...


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