United States District Court, S.D. Florida
ORDER DENYING RULE 50(B)-RELATED MOTIONS
PATRICIA A. SEITZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER is before the Court on Defendants' Renewed Motion
for Enlargement of Time to File Rule 50(b) Motion [DE 299]
and Defendants' Motion to Treat March 6, 2013 Rule 50(a)
Motion as Timely Rule 50(b) Motion [DE 300]. Plaintiff has
responded to each motion [DEs 301 & 302], and Defendants
have replied [DEs 303 & 304]. For the reasons discussed
below, the motions are denied.
2010, Plaintiff filed an adversary complaint in the U.S.
Bankruptcy Court under 11 U.S.C. § 303(i). In 2012, this
Court withdrew the reference to the Bankruptcy Court and
proceeded to trial on Plaintiffs § 303(i)(2) claims. [DE
10.] The trial was bifurcated into a liability phase and a
damages phase. [DE 108.] At the conclusion of the liability
phase, Defendants made an oral Rule 50(a) motion
("liability motion"), arguing that Plaintiff failed
to prove bad faith. The Court denied the motion and the jury
returned a verdict for Plaintiff on liability. [DE 181.] At
the conclusion of the damages phase, Defendants filed a
second Rule 50(a) motion ("damages motion"),
arguing that the evidence did not support an award for
punitive damages. [DE 194.] The Court denied the motion [DE
196], and the jury awarded Plaintiff $1.12 million in
compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. [DE
198.] Final judgment was entered on March 14, 2013. [DE 208.]
April 11, 2013-28 days after final judgment-Defendants filed
a Rule 50(b) motion, arguing that the evidence did not
support a finding of bad faith or an award of punitive
damages. [DE 220.] Plaintiff moved to strike the motion
because it was filed outside the 14-day filing period under
the Bankruptcy Rules. [DE 223.] In response, Defendants filed a
motion for an extension of time to file post-trial motions.
[DE 231.] The Court denied the motion to strike, concluding
that Defendants timely filed within the Federal Rules'
28-day filing period, and denied as moot Defendants'
motion for extension of time. [DE 259.] Then, the Court
granted Defendants' Rule 50(b) motion and reduced
Plaintiffs award to $360, 000 in compensatory damages. [DEs
272 & 273.]
appeal, the Eleventh Circuit reversed this Court's order
granting the Rule 50(b) motion. The Court of Appeals held
that the Bankruptcy Rules apply to all cases arising under
Title 11 and that Defendants' Rule 50(b) motion was
untimely under Fed.R.Bankr.P. 9015(c). Rosenberg v. DVI
Receivables XIV, LLC, 818 F.3d 1283 (11th Cir. 2016).
The Court of Appeals remanded the case with instructions to
reinstate the $6.12 million jury award.
now renew their motion for an extension of time to file
post-trial motions, arguing that their untimely filing was
based on "excusable neglect." Courts employ a
four-factor test to find excusable neglect: (1) the risk of
prejudice to the other party; (2) the length of the delay and
its potential impact on judicial proceedings; (3) the reason
for the delay; and (4) whether the movant acted in good
faith. Pioneer Inv. Services Co. V. Brunswick Associates
Ltd. P 'ship, 507 U.S. 380, 395-96 (1993). However,
the Eleventh Circuit has held, as a matter of law, that an
"attorney's misunderstanding of the plain language
of a rule cannot constitute excusable neglect such that a
party is relieved of the consequences of failing to comply
with a statutory deadline." Advanced Estimating
System, Inc. v. Riney, 130 F.3d 996, 998-99 (11th Cir.
1997) (refusing to find excusable neglect in an
attorney's "failure to review or to appreciate the
relevant rules, which clearly indicate that a party has ten
days from the entry of judgment to file . . . post-trial
motions"). Here, Defendants concede that they mistakenly
believed the Civil Rules' 28-day filing period applied.
Unfortunately, such misunderstandings of the law cannot be
excusable neglect. Riney, 130 F.3d at 998-99.
attempt to distinguish Riney, arguing that the
holding is limited to misunderstandings of "clear
law" while the instant case involved the misapplication
of "two sets of potentially applicable rules."
However, the Eleventh Circuit made clear that the
"plain language of the federal rules-of
bankruptcy and civil procedure-requires application of the
Federal Bankruptcy Rules in this case."
Rosenberg, 818 F.3d at 1287 (emphasis added). Given
the unambiguous language of the federal rules, Riney
applies to this case. The motion is denied.
alternative, Defendants move the Court to treat their second
Rule 50(a) motion-filed on March 6, 2013 in regards to
damages-as a timely renewed Rule 50(b) motion attacking the
evidence on liability. Defendants' first Rule 50(a)
motion attacked the sufficiency of evidence to prove bad
faith; their second Rule 50(a) motion made a similar attack
on the evidence to award punitive damages. Defendants argue
that since the same attack was made in both motions, the
purpose of Rule 50 is fulfilled. However, Defendants are
essentially asking the Court to disregard the Eleventh
district court may not deviate from the appellate court's
mandate. Wheeler v. City of Pleasant Grove, 746 F.2d
1437, 1440 n.2 (11th Cir. 1984). The district court must
implement "both the letter and spirit of the mandate
taking into account the appellate court's opinion, and
the circumstances it embraces." Piambino v.
Bailey, 757 F.2d 1112, 1119 (11th Cir. 1985) (internal
citations omitted). In addition, although on remand the
district court may address issues "not disposed of on
appeal, it is bound to follow the appellate court's
holding, both expressed and implied." Id. Here,
the central issue addressed by the Court of Appeals was the
timeliness of Defendants actual Rule 50(b) motion. Further,
the Court of Appeals expressly recognized that its holding
prevents this Court from considering the merits of
Defendants' Rule 50(b) motion. Rosenberg, 818
F.3d at 1290. On remand, the Court cannot change the
procedural history of the case or the nature of
Defendants' filings in a way that disregards the clear
mandate of the Court of Appeals. Defendants' motion is
denied. Accordingly, it is
Motion for Enlargement of Time to File Rule 50(b) Motion [DE
299] and Motion to Treat Rule 50(a) Motion as Timely ...