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Lefoldt v. Rentfro

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Western Division

March 14, 2018

H. KENNETH LEFOLDT, JR. PLAINTIFF
v.
DONALD RENTFRO, et al. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          KEITH STARRETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         For the reasons below, the Court grants Plaintiff's Motion to Strike [163] his Motion to Enter Final Judgment [156], denies Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration [161], and denies as moot Plaintiff's Motion to Stay Discovery [157].

         I. Background

         Both this Court and the Court of Appeals have discussed the factual and procedural background of this case. See Lefoldt v. Horne, LLP, 853 F.3d 804 (5th Cir. 2017); Lefoldt v. Rentfro, No. 5:15-CV-96-KS-MTP, 2017 WL 5972692 (S.D.Miss. Dec. 1, 2017); Lefoldt v. Rentfro, No. 5:15-CV-96-KS-MTP, 2016 WL 1436678 (S.D.Miss. Apr. 11, 2016).

         On December 1, 2017, the Court granted Defendant Horne, LLP's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [131] as to Plaintiff's professional malpractice claims for the years 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. Lefoldt, 2017 WL 5972692 at *3. The Court noted that “the existence of a professional relationship” was the first element of a malpractice claim, and that to prove “the existence of a professional relationship, ” a plaintiff must provide evidence that it manifested its intent to the defendant that it provide services for the plaintiff. Id. at *2 (citing Gibson v. Williams, Williams & Montgomery, P.A., 186 So.3d 836, 848 (Miss. 2016)). “A community hospital board of trustees, as does any public board in the State of Mississippi, speaks and acts only through its minutes.” Wellness, Inc. v. Pearl River Cnty. Hosp., 178 So.3d 1287, 1290 (Miss. 2015). Therefore, because the minutes of NRMC's Board did not reflect that NRMC manifested its intent that Horne provide accounting services for the years 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013, the Court found that Plaintiff could not prove the existence of a professional relationship between NRMC and Horne for those years. Lefoldt, 2017 WL 5972692 at *3. Plaintiff responded to the Court's order with a bevy of motions, which the Court now addresses.

         II. Motion to Strike [163]

         First, the Court grants Plaintiff's Motion to Strike [163] his Motion to Enter Final Judgment [156].

         III. Motion for Reconsideration [161]

         Next, Plaintiff filed a motion seeking several alternative forms of relief. Plaintiff argues that the Court should reconsider its Memorandum Opinion and Order [154] granting Horne's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [131] as to Plaintiff's malpractice claims for the years 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. Alternatively, Plaintiff argues that the Court should enter a Rule 54(b) judgment as to those claims, or certify the issue for interlocutory appeal.

         A. Reconsideration

         “A motion asking the court to reconsider a prior ruling is evaluated either as a motion . . . under Rule 59(e) or . . . under Rule 60(b). The rule under which the motion is considered is based on when the motion is filed. If the motion is filed within twenty-eight days after the entry of judgment, the motion is treated as though it was filed under Rule 59, and if it was filed outside of that time, it is analyzed under Rule 60.” Demahy v. Schwarz Pharma, Inc., 702 F.3d 177, 182 n. 2 (5th Cir. 2012). Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration [161] was filed within twenty-eight days of the Court's Memorandum Opinion and Order [154] granting Defendant's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [131], and Rule 59 applies.

         “A Rule 59(e) motion calls into question the correctness of a judgment.” Templet v. Hydrochem, Inc., 367 F.3d 473, 478 (5th Cir. 2004). There are three grounds for altering a judgment under Rule 59(e): “(1) an intervening change in controlling law, (2) the availability of new evidence not previously available, or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice.” Williamson Pounders Architects, P.C. v. Tunica County, 681 F.Supp.2d 766, 767 (N.D. Miss. 2008). Rule 59(e) motions are “not the proper vehicle for rehashing evidence, legal theories, or arguments that could have been offered or raised before the entry of judgment, ” Templet, 367 F.3d at 478, and they “should not be used to . . . re-urge matters that have already been advanced by a party.” Nationalist Movement v. Town of Jena, 321 F. App'x 359, 364 (5th Cir. 2009). It is “an extraordinary remedy that should be used sparingly.” Id. Before filing a Rule 59(e) motion, a party “should evaluate whether what may seem to be a clear error of law is in fact simply a point of disagreement” with the Court. Atkins v. Marathon LeTourneau Co., 130 F.R.D. 625, 626 (S.D.Miss. 1990).

         1.New” Evidence

         First, Plaintiff argues that the Court should reconsider its earlier ruling because the NRMC Board's executive session minutes from 2010 through 2014 reflect that NRMC entered into a professional relationship with Horne. The Board's executive session minutes were not presented to the Court with the previous motion. In fact, this is the first time that the executive session minutes have been raised in this matter, despite the fact that NRMC's relationship with Horne and the extent to which it is reflected in the Board's minutes have been at issue since December 2015. Horne's counsel represented in briefing that Plaintiff first produced them in early 2017 - after the interlocutory ...


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