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MacCormack v. Adel Wiggins Group

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

April 21, 2017

DIANE MACCORMACK, NANCY BROUDY and KAREN LOFTUS, as Special Personal Representatives of BERJ HOVSEPIAN, deceased, Plaintiffs,
THE ADEL WIGGINS GROUP, individually and as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the TRANSDIGM GROUP, INC., et al., Defendants.



         This matter is before the Court on defendant CBS Corporation's motion for reconsideration of the Court's previous order [Doc. #277], denying its motion to dismiss. [Doc. #353]. Plaintiffs have responded in opposition, and the issues are fully briefed.

         I.) Background

         Plaintiffs are the special personal representatives of Berj Hovsepian (Hovsepian), now deceased.[1] Hovsepian was a civilian employee of the United States Navy from 1958 until 1964, in Boston, Massachusetts. He contracted asbestos-related mesothelioma, allegedly as a result of exposure to products that were manufactured, sold, distributed or installed by the defendants, including defendant CBS Corporation (defendant CBS).

         In December 2015, Hovsepian initiated an action in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, Missouri, naming defendant CBS and others as defendants in an eight-count complaint asserting common law negligence claims. The action was then removed to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1442(a)(1) and 1446. Defendant CBS subsequently moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, and on August 5, 2016, the Court denied the motion. [Doc. #277]. The Court later denied defendant CBS's related motion for certification of a question for interlocutory appeal. [Doc. #309]. In the instant motion, defendant CBS moves for reconsideration of the Court's order denying its motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. [Doc. #353].

         II. Legal Standard

         A district court has “the inherent power to reconsider and modify an interlocutory order any time prior to the entry of judgment.” K.C. 1986 Ltd. P'ship v. Reade Mfg., 472 F.3d 1009, 1017 (8th Cir. 2007) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). And although the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not expressly provide for motions to reconsider, Rule 54(b) encompasses the power to revise an interlocutory order any time prior to the entry of final judgment. See Thunder Basin Coal Co., L.L.C. v. Zurich Am. Ins. Co., No. 4:12-CV-231 (CDP), 2013 WL 6410012, at *1 (E.D. Mo. Dec. 9, 2013); Trickey v. Kaman Indus. Techs. Corp., No. 1:09-CV-00026 (SNLJ), 2011 WL 2118578, at * 1-2 (E.D. Mo. May 26, 2011); see, e.g., Jiang v. Porter, No. 4:15-CV-1008 (CEJ), 2016 WL 193388, at *1 (E.D. Mo. Jan. 15, 2016) (applying Rule 54(b) to a motion to reconsider the denial of a motion to dismiss).[2] Specifically, Rule 54(b) states that:

[A]ny order . . . that adjudicates fewer than all the claims or the rights and liabilities of fewer than all the parties does not end the action as to any of the claims or parties and may be revised at any time before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all the claims and all the parties' rights and liabilities.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b).

         “‘The exact standard applicable to the granting of a motion under Rule 54(b) is not clear, though it is typically held to be less exacting than would be a motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e), which is in turn less exacting than the standards enunciated in Federal Rule of Civil [P]rocedure 60(b).'” Painters Dist. Council No. 58 v. RDB Universal Servs., LLC, No. 4:14-CV-01812 (ERW), 2016 WL 4368098, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Aug. 16, 2016) (quoting Wells' Dairy, Inc. v. Travelers Indem. Co. of Ill., 336 F.Supp.2d 906, 909 (N.D. Iowa 2004)). Furthermore, the provision affords district courts “substantial discretion” to reconsider prior interlocutory orders. Robinson Mech. Contractors Inc. v. PTC Grp. Holding Corp., No. 1:15-CV-77 (SNLJ), 2017 WL 386541, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Jan. 27, 2017).

         Under Rule 54(b), a court may reconsider an interlocutory order to “‘correct any clearly or manifestly erroneous findings of fact or conclusions of law.'” Bancorp Servs., L.L.C. v. Sun Life Assurance Co. of Canada, No. 4:00-CV-1073 (CEJ), 2011 WL 1599550, at *1 (E.D. Mo. Apr. 27, 2011) (quoting Jones v. Casey's Gen. Stores, 551 F.Supp.2d 848, 854 (S.D. Iowa 2008)); see Hagerman v. Yukon Energy Corp., 839 F.2d 407, 414 (8th Cir. 1988). In particular, a motion to reconsider may be granted if the earlier decision “(1) misunderstood a party, (2) made a decision outside of the adversarial issues, or (3) would be rendered incorrect because of a ‘controlling or significant change in law' since the issues were submitted to the Court.'” Trickey, 2011 WL 2118578, at *2 (quoting Westinghouse Elec. Co. v. United States, No. 4:03-CV-861, 2009 WL 881605, at *4 (E.D. Mo. Mar. 30, 2009)); see also Pet Quarters, Inc. v. Ladenburg Thalmann and Co., Inc., No. 4:04-CV-00697-BRW, 2011 WL 1135902, at *1 (E.D. Ark. Mar. 28, 2011) (reasoning that an “intervening change in the controlling law is a recognized ground for granting a motion for reconsideration”).

         A motion to reconsider under Rule 54(b), however, is “not a vehicle to identify facts or legal arguments that could have been, but were not, raised at the time the relevant motion was pending.” Julianello v. K-V- Pharm. Co., 791 F.3d 915, 923 (8th Cir. 2015); see also Evans v. Contract Callers, Inc., No. 4:10-CV-2358 (FRB), 2012 WL 234653, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Jan. 25, 2012) (“Although the Court has the power to revisit prior decisions of its own . . . in any circumstance, [it] should be loathe to do so in the absence of extraordinary circumstances such as where the initial decision was clearly erroneous and would work a manifest injustice.” (internal quotation marks and citation omitted; formatting in original)). Finally, “when evaluating whether to grant a motion to reconsider, the Court also has an interest in judicial economy and ensuring respect for the finality of its decisions, values which would be undermined if it were to routinely reconsider its interlocutory orders.” Trickey, 2011 WL 2118578, at *2 (citing Disc. Tobacco Warehouse, Inc. v. Briggs Tobacco and Specialty Co., No. 3:09-CV-5078 (DGK), 2010 WL 3522476, at *1 (W.D. Mo. Sept. 2, 2010)).

         III. Discussion

         Defendant CBS urges the Court to reconsider its prior order pursuant to an intervening change in controlling law. After the Court issued its order, the Missouri Supreme Court held in State ex rel. Norfolk S. Ry. Co. v. Dolan that compliance with Missouri's foreign corporation registration statute does not constitute consent to the exercise of general jurisdiction by Missouri courts. No. SC 95514, 2017 WL 770977, at *1 (Mo. Feb. 28, 2017). This Court's prior order relied on Eighth Circuit precedent holding the converse - that complying with a state's foreign corporate registration statute operated as consent to the jurisdiction of that state's courts. [Doc. #277]; Knowlton v. Allied Van Lines, Inc., 900 F.2d 1196 (8th Cir. 1990). Accordingly, the Court finds that there has been a controlling or significant change in the law such that reconsideration is warranted. See McClurg v. Mallinckrodt, Inc., No. 4:12-CV-00361 (AGF), 2016 WL 6432776 (E.D. Mo. Oct. 31, 2016) (granting a Rule 54(b) motion to reconsider after an intervening change in the law); c.f. Reid v. Doe Run Res. Corp., No. 4:14-CV-44 (CDP), 2015 WL 3855151, at *1 (E.D. Mo. June 22, 2015) (denying a motion to reconsider when the defendants “offer no controlling decisions that would alter the [previous] conclusion” (internal quotation marks omitted)); see also ...

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