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Burkeen v. A.R.E. Accessories, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah Division

November 3, 2017



          Greg N. Stivers, Judge United States District Court

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion to Alter or Amend the Court's Memorandum Opinion and Order (DN 36) and Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to File a Second Amended Complaint (DN 37). For the reasons set forth below, both motions are DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The pending motions arise in the context of a personal injury suit initiated by Plaintiffs Deana Burkeen (“Deana”) and Timothy Burkeen (“Timothy”) against Defendant General Motors, LLC (“GM”). According to Plaintiffs, Deana lost control of Timothy's GMC pickup truck and collided with an oncoming vehicle, causing her to hit her head on a “D-ring” protruding from the cab of the truck. (Am. Compl. ¶ 11, DN 18). Thereafter, Deana filed an Amended Complaint, seeking relief against GM on claims for negligence and strict products liability.[1] (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 22-32). On July 26, 2017, this Court issued a Memorandum Opinion and Order (DN 35) (“the Order”) dismissing all counts against GM with prejudice on the ground that those counts failed stated a claim for relief. (Mem. Op. & Order. 6-10).

         Presently, three issues are pending before this Court. The first two issues-both of which are presented in motions filed by Plaintiffs-are whether the Court should: (1) vacate, alter, or amend the Order to prevent manifest injustice pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e); and (2) grant Plaintiffs leave to amend their Amended Complaint. (Mem. Supp. Pls.' Mot. Alter Mem. Order & Op. 2-9, DN 36-1 [hereinafter Pls.' Mem. Alter]; Mem. Supp. Pls.' Mot. Leave File Second Am. Compl. 2-5, DN 37-1 [hereinafter Pls.' Mem. Leave). The third issue is whether the Court should certify the Order as a final and appealable pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b).


         The Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1332 as there is complete diversity between the parties and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.00.


         A. Plaintiffs' Motions

         The Sixth Circuit and sister courts have explained that, “after [the court has entered] a judgment against the plaintiff, ” the plaintiff must satisfy the “requirements for reopening a case established by Rule[] 59” before the court has the power to grant the plaintiff leave to amend her complaint. Leisure Caviar, LLC v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Serv., 616 F.3d 612, 615-16 (6th Cir. 2010). (emphasis in original) (citations omitted); Morse v. McWhorter, 290 F.3d 795, 799 (6th Cir. 2002) (“Following entry of final judgment, a party may not seek to amend their complaint without first moving to alter, set aside or vacate . . . .” (citation omitted)); MAKS Inc. Gen. Trading & Contracting Co. v. Sterling Operations, Inc., No. 3:10-CV-443, 2013 WL 4053162, at *4, 13 (E.D. Tenn. Aug. 12, 2013) (courts do not have power to grant the plaintiff leave to amend unless court finds the plaintiff is entitled to relief under Rule 59(e)). Thus, the Court must examine Plaintiffs' Rule 59(e) motion before reviewing their request for leave to amend.

         1. Relief Rule 59(e)

         To obtain relief pursuant to Rule 59(e), the moving party must demonstrate that a final judgment should be altered or amended due to: “(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.” Intera Corp. v. Henderson, 428 F.3d 605, 620 (6th Cir. 2005) (citation omitted). Motions brought under Rule 59(e) seek “an extraordinary remedy and should be granted sparingly because of the interest in finality and conservation of scarce judicial resources.” Vanguard Transp. Sys., Inc. v. Volvo Trucks N. Am., Inc., No. 2:04CV889, 2006 WL 3097189, at *2 (S.D. Ohio Oct. 30, 2006) (internal quotation marks omitted) (citation omitted). Plaintiffs maintain that the Court must vacate or amend the Order to prevent a manifest injustice because: (1) the Amended Complaint contains facts sufficient to state claims against GM, and (2) dismissing a complaint with prejudice is improper. (Pls.' Mem. Alter 3-9). Having considered these arguments, the Court finds that neither reason is persuasive.

         Plaintiffs' first argument-relief from the Order is warranted because the Amended Complaint sufficiently pled claims against GM-is meritless. Plaintiffs have already raised this argument, and Rule 59(e) is not a vehicle for recycling old arguments. See U.S. ex rel. Am. Textile Mfrs. Inst., Inc. v. The Ltd., Inc., 179 F.R.D. 541, 547 n.9 (S.D. Ohio 1998) (“If the movant simply regurgitates arguments previously presented or presents arguments which originally could have been argued, then the movant's proper recourse is an appeal to the circuit court.” (citation omitted)); In re Betts, 157 B.R. 631, 634 (Bankr. N.D.Ill. 1993) (disagreement about the court's findings does not constitute a manifest injustice).

         Plaintiffs' second argument-the Court erred when it dismissed Plaintiffs' claims against GM with prejudice rather than granting Plaintiffs leave to amend their Amended Complaint suasponte, and because of this error the Court must now amend the order such that it dismisses Plaintiffs' claims against GM without prejudice-is equally unpersuasive. (Pls.' Mem. Alter 5-9). Contrary to Plaintiffs contentions, the Sixth Circuit has never held that district courts must grant ...

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