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Shanahan v. Diocese of Camden

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

March 21, 2014


Daniel P. Hartstein, Esquire, Liberty View, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Attorney for Plaintiff Lisa Shanahan.

William J. DeSantis, Esquire, Ballard Spahr LLP, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Attorney for Defendant the Diocese of Camden.


NOEL L. HILLMAN, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court by way of Defendant the Diocese of Camden's motion [Doc. No. 17] made pursuant to Local Civil Rule 7.1(i) seeking reconsideration of the Court's June 27, 2013 Opinion and Order denying Defendant's motion [Doc. No. 6] for summary judgment without prejudice. The Court has considered the parties' submissions and decides this matter pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78.

For the reasons expressed below, Defendant's motion for reconsideration will be denied.


The Court exercises jurisdiction in this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 1332 based on complete diversity of citizenship between the parties and an amount in controversy in excess of $75, 000.


The facts of this case are set forth in detail in the Court's June 27, 2013 Opinion, and because the Court writes primarily for the parties, only those facts relevant to the resolution of Defendant's motion for reconsideration are summarized here. In this case, Plaintiff alleges that as a child she was sexually abused from approximately 1980-1981 by an ordained Catholic priest, Father Thomas Harkins ("Harkins"), who was employed by the Diocese of Camden ("the Diocese") and served as a priest at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Hammonton, New Jersey during the relevant time period. Based on the alleged sexual abuse she suffered as a child, Plaintiff brought the present action asserting claims against the Diocese for: (1) liability under New Jersey's Child Sexual Abuse Act (the "CSAA" or the "Act") in Count I; (2) negligence with respect to the Diocese's retention and supervision of Harkins in Count II; and (3) breach of fiduciary duty in Count III.

Plaintiff filed her complaint in this action on May 15, 2012, and counsel for the Diocese entered an appearance on July 25, 2012. Subsequently, the Diocese filed a motion for summary judgment on September 10, 2012, prior to any discovery in this case. By Opinion and Order dated June 27, 2013, the Court denied the Diocese's motion for summary judgment without prejudice. (See generally Op. [Doc. No. 14], June 27, 2013; Order [Doc. No. 15] 1, June 27, 2013.) It is the Court's denial of summary judgment without prejudice for which the Diocese now seeks reconsideration.


In this district, motions for reconsideration are governed by Local Civil Rule 7.1(i), which provides in relevant part, that "[a] motion for reconsideration shall be served and filed within 14 days after the entry of the order or judgment on the original motion by the Judge or Magistrate Judge." L. CIV. R. 7.1(i). Local Rule 7.1(i) further provides that the party moving for reconsideration must submit a "brief setting forth concisely the matter or controlling decisions which the party believes the Judge or Magistrate Judge has overlooked[.]" L. CIV. R. 7.1(i). A motion for reconsideration under Rule 7.1(i) is "an extremely limited procedural vehicle, ' and requests pursuant to th[is] rule[] are to be granted sparingly.'" Langan Eng'g & Envtl. Servs., Inc. v. Greenwich Ins. Co., No. 07-2983 , 2008 WL 4330048, at *1 (D.N.J. Sept. 17, 2008) (citing P. Schoenfeld Asset Mgmt. LLC v. Cendant Corp. , 161 F.Supp.2d 349, 353 (D.N.J. 1992)).

The purpose of a motion for reconsideration "is to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence.'" Max's Seafood Cafe ex rel. Lou-Ann, Inc. v. Quinteros , 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999) (citation omitted). In seeking reconsideration, the moving party bears a heavy burden, and the motion can only be granted if the party "shows at least one of the following grounds: (1) an intervening change in the controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence that was not available when the court granted the motion for summary judgment; or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice." Id.

Reconsideration is not appropriate, however, where the motion only raises a party's disagreement with the Court's initial decision. Florham Park Chevron, Inc. v. Chevron U.S.A., Inc. , 680 F.Supp. 159, 163 (D.N.J. 1988); see also Schiano v. MBNA Corp., No. 05-CV-1771, 2006 WL 3831225, *2 (D.N.J. Dec. 28, 2006) ("Mere disagreement with the Court will not suffice to show that the Court overlooked relevant facts or controlling law, ..., and should be dealt with through the normal appellate process[.]") (citations omitted); United States v. Compaction Sys. Corp. , 88 F.Supp.2d 339, 345 (D.N.J. 1999) ...

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