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Ronald A. Chisholm, Ltd. v. American Cold Storage, Inc.

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

August 19, 2013

RONALD A. CHISHOLM, LTD., Plaintiff,
v.
AMERICAN COLD STORAGE, INC. and AMERICAN COLD STORAGE NORTH AMERICA, LP DEFENDANTS and THIRD PARTY Plaintiffs.
v.
ABILENE TEXAS FOODS, INC. THIRD PARTY Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

CHARLES R. SIMPSON, III, Senior District Judge.

This case is before the court on a motion to reconsider or vacate a January 2013 opinion and order, or in the alternative, a motion for summary judgment by the Third Party Defendant, Abilene Texas Foods, Inc. ("Abilene") against the Defendants and Third Party Plaintiffs, American Cold Storage, Inc. and American Cold Storage North America, LP ("ACS") (DN 104).

Abilene requests that the court reconsider or vacate a January 31, 2013 opinion and order, in which the court amended a summary judgment order from dismissing ACS's claims against Abilene "with prejudice" to dismissing ACS's claims "without prejudice." (DN 100). In the alternative, Abilene requests summary judgment on ACS's first amended third-party complaint (DN 101).

For the reasons stated herein, we will deny Abilene's motion to reconsider or vacate and we will grant Abilene's motion for summary judgment on ACS's first amended third-party complaint.

BACKGROUND

In February 2012, Abilene filed a motion for summary judgment against ACS on the basis that ACS's claims for indemnity and contribution were not proper remedies for Chisholm's underlying contract-claims. In other words, Abilene argued that ACS's proposed remedies would only be proper if the underlying claims were tort-based. In August 2012, ACS filed a motion for summary judgment against Abilene on the same claims. We entered summary judgment in favor of Abilene.[1]

After entering a summary judgment order in Abilene's favor, ACS requested that the court amend the order to make it "without prejudice" and requested leave to file its first amended third-party complaint. ACS's amended complaint asserted alternative theories to shift liability to Abilene in the event that ACS was found liable to Chisholm. We granted both of ACS's motions-its motion to amend and its motion to file an amended third-party complaint-on

In the motion at issue now, Abilene requests that we reconsider or vacate the January 2013 order and enter an order denying ACS's motion to alter or amend and ACS's motion to file an amended third-party complaint. Abilene alleges that the court erred in granting ACS's motions, and in doing so created manifest injustice by allowing ACS to have a judgment entered against it with prejudice, and then allowing ACS to assert new claims after its original claims failed (DN 104-1).

In the alternative, Abilene requests summary judgment on the claims in ACS's first amended third-party complaint. Abilene alleges that ACS's new claims-for intentional interference, trespass to chattels, and unjust enrichment-are restyled claims for indemnity, which this court has already held were improper (DN 104-1).

DISCUSSION

I. Abilene's Motion to Reconsider the January 2013 Order Fails

A. Standard

"District courts have inherent power to reconsider interlocutory orders and reopen any part of a case before entry of a final judgment." In re Saffady, 524 F.3d 799, 803 (6th Cir. 2008). "A district court may modify, or even rescind, such interlocutory orders." Mallory v. Eyrich, 922 F.2d 1273, 1282 (6th Cir. 1991). Although the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not provide expressly for "motions for reconsideration, " courts generally construe such motions as motions to alter or amend a judgment under Rule 59(e). E.g., Moody v. Pepsi-Cola Metro. Bottling Co., 915 F.2d 201, 206 (6th Cir. 1990); Taylor v. Colo. State Univ., No. 5:11-CV-00034-TBR, 2013 WL 1563233, at *8-9 (W.D. Ky. Apr. 12, 2013).

The Sixth Circuit has consistently held that a Rule 59 motion should not be used either to reargue a case on the merits or to reargue issues already presented, see Whitehead v. Bowen, 301 F.Appx. 484, 489 (6th Cir. 2008) ( citing Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians v. Engler, 146 F.3d 367, 374 (6th Cir. 1998)). "It is not the function of a motion to reconsider arguments already considered and rejected by the court." White v. Hitachi, Ltd., No. 3:04-CV-20, 2008 WL 782565, at *1 (E.D. Tenn. Mar. 20, 2008) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). The Sixth Circuit instructs that a motion for reconsideration should only be granted on four grounds: "Under Rule 59, a court may alter or amend a judgment based on: (1) a clear error of law; (2) newly discovered evidence; (3) an intervening change in controlling law; or (4) a need to prevent manifest injustice.'" Leisure Caviar, LLC v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Serv., 616 F.3d 612, 615 (6th Cir. 2010) ( quoting Intera Corp. v. Henderson, 428 F.3d 605, 620 (6th Cir. 2005)).

Under Rule 54(b), the Sixth Circuit also takes a reserved approach to reconsideration: "54(b) is not to be used routinely, or as a courtesy or accommodation to counsel... [t]he power which this Rule confers upon the trial court should be used only in the infrequent harsh case' as an instrument for the improved administration of justice." Corrosioneering, Inc. v. Thyssen Env't Sys., Inc., 807 F.2d 1279, 1282 (6th Cir. 1986) ( citing Panichella v. Pa. ...


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