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Hawthorne-Burdine v. Oakland University

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

May 23, 2017

Dorothy Hawthorne-Burdine, Plaintiff,
v.
Oakland University, et al., Defendants.

          ANTHONY P. PATTI UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING OAKLAND UNIVERSITY DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION [52] AND GRANTING OAKLAND UNIVERSITY DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SANCTIONS [46]

          HON. GERSHWIN A. DRAIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.

         I. Introduction

         On April 24, 2017, the Court granted Medicolegal Services' Motion for Sanctions [49] and denied Oakland Defendants' Motion for Sanctions [46] on the ground that compliance with the safe harbor provision of Rule 11 had not been demonstrated. Dkt. No. 51. Shortly thereafter, Oakland University Defendants filed the present Motion for Reconsideration [52], arguing that they need not have attached documentation of their compliance to comply with Rule 11.

         The Court does not conduct hearings on motions for reconsideration, E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(f)(1), and accordingly the motion will be resolved solely on the briefing. For the reasons discussed herein, the Court GRANTS Oakland University Defendants' Motion for Reconsideration [52].

         II. Background

         The Court has recited the facts regarding Plaintiff's two cases against Defendants in prior orders, and will not repeat those facts here for the sake of brevity. See Dkt. Nos. 44, 51; Hawthorne-Burdine v. Oakland Univ., 158 F.Supp.3d 586 (E.D. Mich. 2016); Hawthorne-Burdine v. Oakland Univ., No. 16-1103 (6th Cir. Nov. 3, 2016).

         III. Legal Standard

         United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan Local Rule 7.1(h)(3) provides:

Generally, and without restricting the Court's discretion, the Court will not grant motions for rehearing or reconsideration that merely present the same issues ruled upon by the Court, either expressly or by reasonable implication. The 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. LR 7.1(h)(3). “A ‘palpable defect' is ‘a defect that is obvious, clear, unmistakable, manifest, or plain.' ” United States v. Lockett, 328 F.Supp.2d 682, 684 (E.D. Mich. 2004) (citing United States v. Cican, 156 F.Supp.2d 661, 668 (E.D. Mich. 2001)). “[A] motion for reconsideration is not properly used as a vehicle to re-hash old arguments or to advance positions that could have been argued earlier but were not.” Smith ex rel. Smith v. Mount Pleasant Pub. Sch., 298 F.Supp.2d 636, 637 (E.D. Mich. 2003) (citing Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians v. Engler, 146 F.3d 367, 374 (6th Cir. 1998)).

         IV. Discussion

         A. The Court Made A Palpable Error in Denying Oakland University Defendants' Motion for Sanctions Based on Failure to Demonstrate Compliance with the Safe Harbor Provision

         The Sixth Circuit has held that strict adherence to Rule 11's outlined procedure is required for a court to grant sanctions. Penn, LLC v. Prosper Bus. Dev. Corp., 773 F.3d 764, 767-68 (6th Cir. 2014) (noting that a warning letter cannot substitute for the properly and timely served motion Rule 11 requires). Although Sixth Circuit has previously has referenced Hadges v. Yonkers Racing Corp., 48 F.3d 1320, 1328 (2d Cir. 1995), where a sanction award was reversed in part “because no evidence indicated compliance with ‘safe harbor' period that current version of Rule 11 specifically mandates, ” Ridder v. City of Springfield, ...


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