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Dykes v. Cleveland Nursing & Rehabilitation Center

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Greenville Division

June 12, 2018

DANNY DYKES, Individually and on behalf of the Estate and Wrongful Death Beneficiaries of James A. Dykes, Deceased PLAINTIFF
v.
CLEVELAND NURSING & REHABILITATION CENTER; and JOHN AND JANE DOES I-X DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          DEBRA M. BROWN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This medical malpractice action is before the Court on Cleveland Nursing & Rehabilitation Center's motion for reconsideration of the ruling on its motion in limine regarding punitive damages evidence. Doc. #116.

         I Relevant Procedural History

         On April 20, 2015, Danny Dykes filed a complaint in the Circuit Court of Bolivar County, Mississippi, individually and on behalf of the estate and wrongful death beneficiaries of James A. Dykes, deceased, against Cleveland Nursing & Rehabilitation Center and “John and Jane Does I-X.” Doc. #2. In his complaint, Danny alleges that James died as a result of negligence while a patient at the defendant's nursing home facility. Id. at ¶¶ 7-8, 12. Cleveland Nursing subsequently removed the state action to this Court on the ground of diversity jurisdiction. Doc. #1 at ¶ 4.

         On May 15, 2018, following a period of discovery and two unsuccessful motions to compel arbitration by Cleveland Nursing, Cleveland Nursing filed a motion in limine which sought, in part, exclusion of punitive damages-related evidence. Doc. #108 at 6-7. On June 5, 2018, this Court entered an order granting in part and denying in part the motion in limine. Doc. #115. With respect to the request to exclude the punitive damages evidence, the Court denied exclusion on the grounds that bifurcation is not required under federal law and that no party had moved for bifurcation. Id. at 7-8 (citing Nester v. Textron, Inc., 888 F.3d 151, 163 (5th Cir. 2018)). On June 11, 2018, Cleveland Nursing filed a motion seeking reconsideration of the order to the extent it “permits Plaintiffs to introduce evidence that is relevant only to punitive damages during the liability phase of trial.” Doc. #116 at 1.

         II

         Motion for Reconsideration Standard

         As a general rule, requests for reconsideration of interlocutory orders, such as the one at issue here, are properly treated as motions for reconsideration under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b). See Helena Labs. Corp. v. Alpha Sci. Corp., 483 F.Supp.2d 538, 538 n.1 (E.D.

         Tex. 2007) (“Alpha's motion was improperly filed under [Rule] 59(e) because no final judgment has been entered. However, it is undisputed that the court has discretion to treat the motion as one for reconsideration under [Rule] 54(b).”).

Although the source of the court's authority to revise or amend an order or judgment is different for interlocutory orders than for final orders or judgments, many of the same policy considerations apply both to motions for reconsideration under Rule 54(b) and to motions for reconsideration under Rule 59(e). Accordingly, district courts … frequently apply the same standards to the two.

eTool Dev., Inc. v. Nat'l Semiconductor Corp., 881 F.Supp.2d 745, 748 (E.D. Tex. 2012) (collecting cases).

         Under Fifth Circuit jurisprudence:

A Rule 59(e) motion calls into question the correctness of a judgment. This Court has held that such a motion is not the proper vehicle for rehashing evidence, legal theories, or arguments that could have been offered or raised before the entry of judgment. Rather, Rule 59(e) serves the narrow purpose of allowing a party to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence. Reconsideration of a judgment after its entry is an extraordinary remedy that should be used sparingly.

Templet v. HydroChem, Inc., 367 F.3d 473, 478-79 (5th Cir. 2004) (quotation marks, alterations, and ...


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