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In re Complaint of Vulcan Construction Materials, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Norfolk Division

July 16, 2019

IN THE MATTER OF THE COMPLAINT OF VULCAN CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS, LLC, AS OWNER OF THE TUG JEANIE CLAY,

          OPINION AND ORDER

          ROBERT G. DOMUMAR, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on Claimant and Defendant-in-Limitation Robert W. Dervishian, Jr.'s Motion for Reconsideration of the Court's Denial of his Motion to Dismiss Complaint in Admiralty Due to Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction ("Motion for Reconsideration"), ECF No. 35. In such motion, Robert W. Dervishian ("Dervishian" or "Defendant-in-Limitation") requests dismissal of the Complaint in Admiralty ("Limitation of Liability Claim"), ECF No. 1, filed by Vulcan Construction Materials, LLC ("Vulcan" or "Plaintiff-in-Limitation") as well as dissolution of the Court's Order of Publication and Stay, ECF No. 10. ECF No. 35 at 20-21.

         Also before the Court are Dervishian's Request for Oral Argument, ECF No. 44, and Dervishian's Motion for Leave to File a Supplemental Memorandum Supporting His Motion for Reconsideration and Incorporated Memorandum ("Motion for Leave to File a Supplemental Memorandum"), ECF No. 45.

         The issues before the Court have been extensively litigated, and for the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES both of Dervishian's motions, ECF Nos. 35 & 45, in addition to Dervishian's Request for Oral Argument, ECF No. 44.

         I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On December 17, 2018, Vulcan filed its Complaint in Admiralty, "seeking exoneration from or limitation of liability to the value of the JEANIE CLAY, or $375, 000." ECF No. 24 at 5.

         On January 22, 2019, Dervishian filed his Answer and Claim, setting forth affirmative defenses and its claim against Vulcan. ECF No. 22.

         On the same day, Dervishian filed his Motion to Dismiss and supporting memorandum. ECF Nos. 17, 18. Vulcan filed its Memorandum in Opposition to Motion to Dismiss Limitation Petition on February 5, 2019. ECF No. 24. Dervishian filed his Reply Brief on February 11, 2019. ECF No. 26.

         On April 15, 2019, the Court held a hearing on Dervishian's Motion to Dismiss, during which the Court provided Dervishian ample opportunity to present argument in support of its Motion to Dismiss. The Court subsequently entered its Opinion and Order denying Dervishian's Motion to Dismiss. ECF No. 30.

         On May 27, 2019, Dervishian filed the instant Motion for Reconsideration, ECF No. 35, to which Vulcan filed its Memorandum in Opposition, ECF No. 42, on June 10, 2019. On June 14, 2019, Dervishian filed his Reply, ECF No. 43. Dervishian proceeded to file his Request for Oral Argument on June 18, 2019. ECF No. 44.

         On July 11, 2019, Dervishian filed its Motion for Leave to File a Supplemental Memorandum, ECF No. 45.

         These matters are ripe for adjudication. Because the facts and arguments are adequately presented in the briefs and on the record, and because the Court has already provided substantial opportunity for argument in this matter, the Court's decisional process would not be aided by yet another opportunity for oral argument in this matter.

         II. STANDARD FOR RECONSIDERATION

         Dervishian argues that his Motion for Reconsideration is proper under either Rule 59(e) or 54(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

         A. Rule 59(e)

         Rule 59(e) "governs requests to alter or amend a 'judgment,' which is defined by Rule 54(a) as 'a decree and any order from which an appeal lies.'" Hemdon v. Alutiiq Educ. & Training, LLC, No. 2:16cv72, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 193725, at *4 (E.D. Va. Aug. 15, 2016) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e); Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(a)). The Fourth Circuit has emphasized that "Rule 59(e) is .. . applicable only to a final judgment." Favetteville Investors v. Commercial Builders. Inc., 936 F.2d 1462, 1469 (4th Cir. 1991).[1]

         The Fourth Circuit has recognized three limited grounds under which a district court may grant a motion for reconsideration under Rule 59(e): "(1) to accommodate an intervening change in controlling law; (2) to account for new evidence not available at trial; or (3) to correct a clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice." Hutchinson v. Staton, 994 F.2d 1076, 1081 (4th Cir. 1993). However, "mere disagreement with the court's ruling does not warrant a Rule 59(e) motion." Lafleur v. Dollar Tree Stores, Inc., No. 2:12-cv-00363, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 198160, at *4 (E.D. Va. Mar. 24, 2014) (citing Hutchinson, 994 F.2d at 1082). Finally, a district court's decision on a motion for reconsideration is reviewed "for abuse of discretion[, ]" and the Fourth Circuit has noted that granting such a motion under Rule 59(e) "is an extraordinary remedy which should be used sparingly." Pacific Ins. Co. v. Am. Nat'l Fire Ins. Co., 148 F.3d 396, 402-03 (4th Cir. 1998) (internal quotations omitted). B. Rule 54(b).

         Where a court's order denying a "[m]otion to [d]ismiss does not constitute a 'judgment' or a final order, '" the motion for reconsideration "does not fall within the language of... Rule 59(e)." Hemdon, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 193725, at *4. Rule 54(b), however, "expressly provides a district court with discretion to revise interlocutory orders, such as an order denying a motion to dismiss, prior to final judgment." Id. at *4-5. Under Rule 54(b), "any order... that adjudicates fewer than all the claims... may be revised at any time before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all the claims and all the parties' rights and liabilities." Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b).

         "'[M]otions for reconsideration under Rule 54(b) are not subject to the strict standards applicable to motions for reconsideration of a final judgment' under Rules 59(e) and 60(b)." Orbcomm Inc. v. Calamp Corp.,215 F.Supp.3d 499, 503 (E.D. Va. 2016) (quoting Am. Canoe Ass'n v. Murohy Farms. Inc.,326 F.3d 505, 514-15 (4th Cir. 2003)). Under Rule 54(b), reconsideration is not limited to "extraordinary circumstances," as is generally required under Rule 59(e). Netscape Communs. Corp. v. Valueclick, Inc.,704 F.Supp.2d 544, 547 (E.D. ...


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