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Atlantic Specialty Insurance Co. v. Pastukov

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division

February 20, 2018



          Gregory A. presnell Judge

         This matter comes before the Court without a hearing on the Motion for Reconsideration (Doc. 76) filed by the Defendant, Sergey Pastukov (“Pastukov”), and the response in opposition (Doc. 82) filed by the Plaintiff, Atlantic Specialty Insurance Company (“Atlantic”). Pastukov seeks reconsideration of this Court's order (Doc. 71) of January 26, 2018, denying his motion for summary judgment (henceforth, the “Order”).

         I. Legal Standard

         The federal rules do not specifically provide for the filing of a “motion for reconsideration.” Van Skiver v. United States, 952 F.2d 1241, 1243 (10th Cir. 1991), cert. denied, 506 U.S. 828, 113 S.Ct. 89, 121 L.Ed.2d 51 (1992). However, it is widely recognized that Rule 59(e) encompasses motions for reconsideration. 11 Charles Alan Wright, et al., Federal Practice & Procedure § 2810.1 (3d ed.). In the interests of finality and conservation of scarce judicial resources, reconsideration is an extraordinary remedy, to be employed sparingly. U.S. v. Bailey, 288 F.Supp.2d 1261, 1267 (M.D. Fla. 2003). A busy district court need not allow itself to be imposed upon by the presentation of theories seriatim. Union Planters Nat. Leasing, Inc. v. Woods, 687 F.2d 117, 121 (5th Cir. 1982). The decision to alter or amend a judgment is committed to the sound discretion of the district court. O'Neal v. Kennamer, 958 F.2d 1044, 1047 (11th Cir. 1992). Appropriate circumstances for reconsideration include situations in which the Court has obviously misapprehended a party's position, the facts, or mistakenly has decided an issue not presented for determination. Anderson v. United Auto Workers, 738 F.Supp. 441, 442 (D. Kan. 1990).

         Generally speaking, the authorities recognize four basic grounds upon which a Rule 59(e) motion may be granted.

First, the movant may demonstrate that the motion is necessary to correct manifest errors of law or fact upon which the judgment is based. Second, the motion may be granted so that the moving party may present newly discovered or previously unavailable evidence. Third, the motion will be granted if necessary to prevent manifest injustice. Serious misconduct of counsel may justify relief under this theory. Fourth, a Rule 59(e) motion may be justified by an intervening change in controlling law.

         11 Charles Alan Wright, et al., Federal Practice & Procedure § 2810.1 (3d ed.).

         Parties cannot use a Rule 59(e) motion to relitigate old matters, Michael Linet, Inc. v. Village of Wellington, Fla., 408 F.3d 757, 763 (11th Cir. 2005), or to raise new legal arguments which could and should have been made during the pendency of the underlying motion, Sanderlin v. Seminole Tribe of Florida, 243 F.3d 1282, 1292 (11th Cir. 2001). Where a party attempts to introduce previously unsubmitted evidence in support of a motion to reconsider, the party must make some showing that the evidence previously was unavailable. Mays v. U.S. Postal Service, 122 F.3d 43, 46 (11th Cir. 1997) (citing, inter alia, Engelhard Indus. v. Research Instrumental Corp., 324 F.2d 347, 352 (9th Cir. 1963), cert. denied, 377 U.S. 923, 84 S.Ct. 1220, 12 L.Ed.2d 215 (1964)). To avoid repetitive arguments on issues already considered fully by the court, rules governing reargument are narrowly construed and strictly applied. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Heath Fielding Ins. Broking Ltd., 976 F.Supp. 198 (S.D. N.Y. 1996).

         II. Analysis

         Pastukov presents four main arguments why the Court should reconsider its order denying his motion for summary judgment. Each is considered in turn below. Familiarity with the underlying order is assumed.

         Pastukov first argues that the Court erred by considering extrinsic evidence before making a finding as to whether the Certificate of Insurance (“COI”) was ambiguous regarding his eligibility for coverage as a “Contract Driver, ” as that term was defined in the COI. Initially, Pastukov argued that the COI was ambiguous because the first page showed him as having coverage[1] while the eligibility requirements found elsewhere in the COI were such that National Shipping could not qualify as an Independent Owner-Operator, which precluded Pastukov from being able to qualify as a Contract Driver.

         Though it is not entirely clear from Pastukov's latest motion, it appears that the “extrinsic evidence” that was allegedly (and improperly) considered was Pastukov's application, which the Court referred to in resolving the eligibility issue.[2] Assuming this to be the case, Pastukov's argument fails. As noted in the order, the eligibility language in the COI was not ambiguous, despite the fact that Pastukov was listed as covered on the first page of that document. Though the Court referred to it, the application did not affect the ambiguity determination.

         Next, Pastukov argues that, contrary to the Court's determination in the order, the policy requirements as to his eligibility are provisions of forfeiture, which can be waived by the insurer, rather than provisions of coverage, which cannot. He notes, correctly, that the trucking accident that Pastukov was involved in is the type of risk covered by the policy. However, this does not resolve the issue. The problem for Pastukov is that he is not the type of truck driver who can be covered by this policy. The issue is therefore one of coverage, which cannot be waived by the insurer.

         Those eligibility requirements are also the subject of Pastukov's third argument, which is that in noting that Pastukov's application incorrectly described him as meeting the requirements to be a contract driver, the Court improperly imputed knowledge to him of those requirements and relieved Atlantic of its duty to inform him of same - meaning Atlantic cannot deny him ...

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