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Costello v. Liberty Mutual Insurance

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

September 18, 2017

JOHN V. COSTELLO, PAULINE W. COSTELLO, and the PAULINE W. COSTELLO TRUST, dated 5/13/1988, Plaintiffs,
v.
LIBERTY MUTUAL INSURANCE Defendant.

          OPINION

          ROBERT B. KUGLER United States District Judge.

         This matter arises upon Plaintiffs John V. Costello, Pauline W. Costello, and the Pauline W. Costello Trust's (“Plaintiffs”) motion to sever and reinstate claims against Defendant Liberty Mutual Insurance (“Defendant”). For the reasons discussed below, Plaintiffs' motion is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On or about March 24, 2014, Plaintiffs commenced suit against Liberty Mutual Insurance in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Ocean County. Defendant removed this case to the District Court of New Jersey on May 19, 2014 (Civil Action 1:14-cv-03208). On October 7, 2014, Plaintiffs filed suit against Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Company (Civil Action 1:14-cv-06203). Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 42(a) and in the interest of efficiency, these cases were consolidated into case number 1:14-cv-03208 on February 5, 2015. See Doc. No. 16. Case Number 1:14-cv-06203 was terminated on February 5, 2013, consistent with the order to consolidate.

         The consolidated case was then ultimately terminated on June 9, 2015 after the parties reported it to the Court as tentatively settled. See Doc. No. 21. The order included a right to reopen the case within 60 days of entry of the order, and on August 13, 2015, another order extended that right to a total of 120 days. See Id.; Doc. No. 22. On March 28, 2017, Plaintiffs filed this motion to sever the consolidated cases and reinstate the case against Liberty Mutual Insurance. See Pl. Br.

         II. STANDARD

         Rule 60(b)[1] of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that 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);
(3) fraud (whether previously called intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party;
(4) the judgment is void;
(5) the judgment has been satisfied, released, or discharged; it is based on an earlier judgment that has been reversed or is vacated; or applying it prospectively is no longer equitable; or
(6) any other reason that justifies relief.”

         Rule 60(c)(1) states, “[a] motion under Rule 60(b) must be made within a reasonable time-and for reasons (1), (2), and (3) no more than a year after the entry of the judgment or order or the date of the proceeding.” See also Pioneer Inv. Servs. V. Brunswick Assoc. Ltd. P'ship, 507 U.S. 380, 393 (“a party who failed to take timely action due to excusable neglect may not seek relief more than a year after the judgment by resorting to subsection (6)”). Furthermore, “[t]he remedy provided by Rule 60(b) is extraordinary, and special circumstances must justify granting relief under ...


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