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Barry v. Lyon

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

March 24, 2015

Walter Barry, et al., Plaintiffs,
Nick Lyon, in his capacity as Acting Director, Michigan Department of Human Services, Defendant.


JUDITH E. LEVY, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on defendant's Motion for Reconsideration (Dkt. 93) of this Court's January 9, 2015 Opinion and Order (Dkt. 91), defendant's Motion to Stay Judgment (Dkt. 94) pending resolution of his motion for reconsideration, and plaintiffs' Motion to Strike (Dkt. 95) exhibits from defendant's motion for reconsideration. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will partially grant plaintiffs' motion and deny defendant's motions.

I. Background

The factual background to this case is recounted in the Court's January 9, 2015 Opinion and Order (Dkt. 91) and is adopted here. By that order, the Court granted plaintiffs' motion for class certification, granted plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment, and denied defendant's motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. Defendant now seeks reconsideration of that order, as well as a stay of judgment. Defendant attached four exhibits to his motion for reconsideration; plaintiffs have moved to strike all four exhibits.

II. Standard

Defendant's motion is brought as a motion for reconsideration under E.D. Mich. L.R. 7.1(h) and as a motion to amend or alter judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e). While the standard is articulated differently for each type of motion, the Sixth Circuit and courts in this district have held the standards are effectively the same. See Henderson v. Walled Lake Consol. Schs., 469 F.3d 479, 496 (6th Cir. 2006); Hence v. Smith, 49 F.Supp.2d 547, 550 (E.D. Mich. 1999).

Defendant's motion cites the standard as articulated in Local Rule 7.1(h); the Court will do so as well. Under that standard, a movant must "not only demonstrate a palpable defect by which the court and the parties and other persons entitled to be heard on the motion have been misled but also show that correcting the defect will result in a different disposition of the case." E.D. Mich. L.R. 7.1(h)(3); Hence, 49 F.Supp.2d at 550. "A palpable defect is a defect that is obvious, clear, unmistakable, manifest or plain." Witzke v. Hiller, 972 F.Supp. 426, 427 (E.D. Mich. 1997).

A motion for reconsideration, however, "is not a vehicle to re-hash old arguments, or to proffer new arguments or evidence that the movant could have presented earlier." Gowens v. Tidwell, No. 10-10518, 2012 WL 4475352, at *1 (E.D. Mich. Sept. 27, 2012) (citing Sault St. Marie v. Engle r, 146 F.3d 367, 374 (6th Cir.1998)); accord Roger Miller Music, Inc. v. Sony/ATV Publ'g, 477 F.3d 383, 395 (6th Cir.2007) (noting "[i]t is well-settled that parties cannot use a motion for reconsideration to raise new legal arguments that could have been raised before a judgment was issued"); Owner-Operator Indep. Drivers v. Arctic Express, Inc., 288 F.Supp.2d 895, 900 (S.D. Ohio 2003) (stating that "[m]otions for reconsideration do not allow the losing party... to raise new legal theories that should have been raised earlier.").

Accordingly, "a party may not introduce evidence for the first time in a motion for reconsideration where that evidence could have been presented earlier." Shah v. NXP Semiconductors USA, Inc., 507 F.App'x 483, 495 (6th Cir. 2012) (affirming denial of motion for reconsideration brought under local rules of Eastern District of Michigan); accord Bank of Ann Arbor v. Everest Nat. Ins. Co., 563 F.App'x 473, 476 (6th Cir. 2014) (holding party may not introduce evidence for the first time in a Rule 59(e) motion that could have been presented earlier). "If district judges were required to consider evidence newly presented but not newly discovered after judgment, there would be two rounds of evidence in a great many cases." Navarro v. Fuji Heavy Industries, Ltd., 117 F.3d 1027, 1032 (7th Cir. 1997).

Whether to strike new evidence or only to disregard it is within the district court's discretion.[1] See, e.g., Int'l Union, United Auto., Aerospace, & Agricultural Implement Workers of Am. v. Aguirre, 410 F.3d 297, 304 (6th Cir. 2005) (reviewing district court's striking of affidavit under abuse-of-discretion standard).

III. Analysis

A. Plaintiff's Motion to Strike

The challenged exhibits are an affidavit of Dale Shaw, a policy analyst at the Department of Human Services (Dkt. 93-2, Ex. 1 to Def.'s Mot. Recon.); an affidavit of David Russell, acting director of DHS' Office of Inspector General ("OIG") (Dkt. 93-3, Ex. 2); a chart with the text of 7 U.S.C. § 2015(k) and 42 U.S.C. § 1382(e)(4) (Dkt. 93-4, Ex. 3); and an email dated November 5, 2014, from Robin Thomas in OIG to defense counsel Joshua Smith and others. (Dkt. 93-5, Ex. 4.)

Plaintiffs contend all four exhibits could have been submitted before entry of the Court's January 9, 2015 order and should therefore be stricken. Defendant's response is that they could not have been submitted earlier, and the Court is to blame. In making this argument, defendant relies on misrepresentations of law and fact and upon baseless suggestions of impropriety on the part of plaintiffs' counsel and of bias on the part of this Court.

1. The Court's treatment of plaintiffs' pre-judgment submissions

Defendant's first argument does not address whether the exhibits could have been presented earlier. Instead, defendant claims plaintiffs, without leave of Court, filed supplemental authority after the close of briefing on the cross-motions for summary judgment, and "this Court accepted" that authority. (Dkt. 99, Def.'s Br. 2.) Then, plaintiffs "improperly offer[ed] evidence at the hearing" on November 14, 2014, but the impropriety "did [not] stop this Court from accepting that evidence over Defendant's objection." ( Id. at 3 n.1.) Refusing to accept defendant's exhibits would thus be unfair.

There is more petulance than substance here. True, plaintiffs did file supplemental authority after the briefing closed, and without leave of Court. (Dkt. 89.) The supplemental authority consisted of two opinions from a similar case in this district, issued after the close of briefing and two weeks before oral argument in this case. It is far from uncommon for parties to point to supplemental authority outside of scheduled briefing, even at a hearing on a motion. Here, defendant had ample opportunity to address that authority at the hearing, or to move to strike the filing. At any rate, ...

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