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Maryland Casualty Company v. Dublin Eye Associates, P.C.

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Dublin Division

June 30, 2017

MARYLAND CASUALTY COMPANY and FOREMOST SIGNATURE INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiffs,
v.
DUBLIN EYE ASSOCIATES, P.C.; DR. ROGER D. SMITH; and DR. JAMES Y. JONES; Defendants.

          ORDER

          LISA GODBEY WOOD, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         Pending before the Court is Plaintiffs' Maryland Casualty Company ("MCC") and Foremost Signature Insurance Company's ("Foremost") (collectively "Plaintiffs") Motion for Reconsideration (Dkt. No. 55). For the reasons stated below, Plaintiffs' motion is DENIED.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Many of the facts of this case are not in dispute. On April 13, 2011, Defendant Jones and two other parties filed an Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA") lawsuit against Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company ("Mass. Life") in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. (Dkt. No. 1 ¶ 13). That court ultimately granted summary judgment in Mass. Life's favor on July 12, 2013. Dublin Eye Assocs., P.C. v. Mass. Mut. Life Ins. Co., 957 F.Supp.2d 843 (E.D. Ky. 2013). On August 12, 2013, Mass. Life filed a claim for attorney's fees pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(1). On March 24, 2014, the motion was granted. Dublin Eye Assocs., P.C. v. Mass. Mut. Life Ins. Co., No. 5:ll-cv-128, 2014 WL 1217664 (E.D. Ky. Mar. 24, 2014). Defendant and his co-plaintiffs in the underlying lawsuit were ordered to pay $1, 191, 799.99. Dkt. No. 1 ¶ 22. On May 4, 2015, Plaintiffs were notified of the judgment and the award of attorney's fees.

         At the time, MCC insured Defendant with the following policy ("Policy"):

We will pay those sums that the insured becomes legally obligated to pay as damages because of "personal and advertising injury" to which this insurance applies. We will have the right and duty to defend the insured against any "suit" seeking those damages. However, we will have no duty to defend the insured against any "suit" seeking damages for "personal and advertising injury" to which this insurance does not apply. We may, at our discretion, investigate any offense and settle any claim or "suit" that may result.

(Dkt. No. 1 ¶ 28).

         Further, the Policy covered a "personal and advertising injury" arising out of "malicious prosecution" (as well as a number of other offenses not at issue in this case).

         LEGAL STANDARD

         A party may seek to alter or amend a judgment in a civil case within 28 days after the entry of the judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e). Reconsideration is an extraordinary remedy which should be used sparingly. Bostic v. Astrue, No. 1:12-CV-082, 2012 WL 3113942, at *1 (S.D. Ga. July 31, 2012). A Rule 59(e) motion may not be used to re-litigate old matters, raise new arguments or present new evidence that could have been raised prior to the entry of judgment, as "the only grounds for granting a Rule 59(e) motion are newly-discovered evidence or manifest errors of law or fact." Arthur v. King, 500 F.3d 1335, 1343 (11th Cir. 2007) (internal quotations omitted). "Rule 59(e) is not a vehicle for rehashing arguments already rejected by the court or for refuting the court's prior decision." Bostic, 2012 WL 3113942, at *1 (quoting Wendy's Int'l v. Nu-Cape Const., Inc., 169 F.R.D. 680, 686 (M.D. Ga. 1996)).

         DISCUSSION

         Plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate newly discovered evidence or manifest errors of law or fact that would justify reconsideration. Plaintiffs restyle arguments previously considered and raise new arguments that could have been made before dismissal of their claims. Neither form of argument is appropriate on a motion to alter, amend, or vacate. Id. at *1.

         Primarily, Plaintiffs point to arguments that were already considered on their motion for summary judgment, which Plaintiffs assume the Court misunderstood or ignored. This is not so. Plaintiffs assert that the Court did not address their primary argument-that the elements of a motion for attorney's fees under 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g) (1) need to be comparable to an action for malicious prosecution under Kentucky law in order for Defendant to survive summary judgment. Dkt. No. 55-1.

         The Court only considers whether the facts from the underlying case could have also sustained a malicious prosecution under Kentucky law-not whether the two laws are similar, as Plaintiff suggests. See Atl. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Atlanta Datacom, Inc., 139 F.3d 1344, 1345-46 (11th Cir. 1998) (per curiam). The holding in Atlanta Datacom undercuts Plaintiffs' 29 U.S.C. ยง 1132(g)(1) arguments and therefore the ...


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