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Strumolo v. Steelcase, Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

March 30, 2016

RALPH STRUMOLO and DONNA STRUMOLO, Plaintiffs, STEELCASE, INC., et al., Defendants.

          OPINION and ORDER (Reconsideration)

          MCNULTY. U.S.D.J.

         This is a products liability action based on injuries received in an accident involving an office chair. Now before the Court is a motion (ECF no. 140) by defendant SUSPA, Inc., for reconsideration of the portion of my Opinion and Order, filed on August 26, 2016, that was adverse to SUSPA. (ECF nos. 137, 138). Plaintiffs have opposed SUSPA's motion and cross-moved for reconsideration of a portion of my Opinion and Order that was adverse to the plaintiffs. (ECF no. 142) Steelcase has filed an opposition to the plaintiffs' motion. (ECF no. 144) SUSPA has joined in Steelcase's opposition, and filed its own opposition and reply brief. (ECF no. 145) The matter is thus fully briefed and ripe for decision. For the reasons stated herein, both motions for reconsideration are DENIED.

         I. These Motions and the Applicable Standard

         Familiarity with my prior rulings, reflected in the Opinion and Order (ECF nos. 137, 138), is assumed. That prior Opinion had three essential components:

(a) It denied the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment of liability on their design defect and failure-to-warn claims;
(b) It granted the motions of defendants SUSPA and Steelcase, Inc. for summary judgment dismissing the plaintiffs' design defect claim; and
(c) It denied the motions of SUSPA and Steelcase for summary judgment on the plaintiffs' failure-to-warn claim.

         The upshot is that there are genuine, material issues of fact to be tried as to the plaintiffs' failure-to-warn claim.

         To SUSPA, the wisdom of rulings (a) and (b) was immediately apparent. It moves, however, for reconsideration of ruling (c) and entry of judgment in SUSPA's favor on the failure-to-warn claim. The plaintiffs, although thoroughly persuaded by ruling (c), move for partial reconsideration of ruling (a) and entry of judgment in plaintiffs' favor on the failure-to-warn claim.

         I will not review the standards governing summary judgment, which are stated in my prior opinion. The standards governing a motion for reconsideration are well settled. See generally D.N.J. Loc. Civ. R. 7.1(i). Reconsideration is an "extraordinary remedy, " to be granted "sparingly." NL Indus. Inc. v. Commercial Union Ins. Co., 935 F.Supp. 513, 516 (D.N.J. 1996). Generally, reconsideration is granted in three scenarios: (1) when there has been an intervening change in the law; (2) when new evidence has become available; or (3) when necessary to correct a clear error of law or to prevent manifest injustice. See North River Ins. Co. v. CIGNA Reinsurance Co., 52 F.3d 1194, 1218 (3d Cir. 1995); Carmichael v. Everson, 2004 WL 1587894, at *1 (D.N.J. May 21, 2004). Local Rule 7. l(i) requires such a motion to specifically identify "the matter or controlling decisions which the party believes the Judge or Magistrate Judge has overlooked." Id.; see also Egloff v. New Jersey Air Nat'l Guard, 684 F.Supp. 1275, 1279 (D.N.J. 1988). Evidence or arguments that were available at the time of the original decision will not support a motion for reconsideration. Damiano v. Sony Music Entm't, Inc., 975 F.Supp. 623, 636 (D.N.J. 1997); see also North River Ins. Co., 52 F.3d at 1218; Bapu Corp. v. Choice Hotels Int'l, Inc., 2010 WL 5418972, at *4 (D.N.J. Dec. 23, 2010) (citing P. Schoenfeld Asset Mgmt. LLC v. Cendant Corp., 161 F.Supp.2d 349, 352 (D.N.J. 2001)).

         IL Discussion

         A. SUSPA's Reconsideration Motion

         SUSPA's reconsideration motion is admirably focused. The Court, says SUSPA, overlooked two things:

(a) a concession by plaintiffs' liability expert, Gary Jackson, that he had no opinion as to a failure-to-warn ...

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