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Jackson v. First Niagara Bank, N.A.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

June 12, 2018

SCOTT D. JACKSON, State of Connecticut, Commissioner of Labor, Plaintiff,



         Scott D. Jackson, Commissioner of the State of Connecticut Department of Labor (the “Commissioner” or “Plaintiff”), filed suit under Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-72 to collect unpaid wages on behalf of Brian L. Pelletier, from Mr. Pelletier's former employer First Niagara Bank, N.A. (“First Niagara” or “Defendant”), in Connecticut Superior Court. ECF No. 1-1. First Niagara removed the case to this Court.

         Plaintiff has moved for reconsideration of the Court's denial of Plaintiff's motion to remand the case to Connecticut Superior Court. ECF No. 35.

         For the reasons that follow, the motion is DENIED.


         On December 2, 2013, Mr. Pelletier allegedly filed a claim with Plaintiff, seeking assistance in obtaining unpaid wages from First Niagara. Id. ¶ 4. Plaintiff allegedly investigated the claim and determined that First Niagara owes Mr. Pelletier $43, 934 in unpaid wages, consisting of $6, 300 in “true up” commissions based on annual production, $12, 634 in commissions on mortgage loans for loans that closed more than thirty days after his October 17, 2013, termination, and a $25, 000 bonus based on Mr. Pelletier's 2012 performance. Id. ¶ 5. The $43, 934 in unpaid wages allegedly due to Mr. Pelletier remains due and outstanding. Compl. ¶ 8. Under Conn. Gen. Stat. §31-72, Plaintiff seeks to collect double damages, for a total of $87, 868, in addition to reasonable attorney's fees, costs and interest. Compl. § 9.

         On August 4, 2016, Plaintiff filed this action in the Connecticut Superior Court for the Judicial District of Hartford, see generally Compl., ECF No. 1-1, alleging that First Niagara was an employer under Conn Gen. Stat. § 31-71a(1)). Id. ¶ 2. First Niagara then removed the case to this Court. ECF No. 1. Plaintiff moved to remand this case to the Connecticut Superior Court. ECF No. 19. In support of its motion to remand, Plaintiff has provided a stipulation, signed by the Attorney General for the State of Connecticut, George Jepsen, Assistant Attorney General, Philip M. Schulz, Plaintiff's counsel, Assistant Attorney General, Richard T. Sponzo, and Resa Spaziani, the Director of the Wage and Workplace Standards Division of the Connecticut Department of Labor. See generally Stipulation, ECF No. 19-1. The Stipulation provides that the State of Connecticut Commissioner of Labor, “will not seek more than $75, 000.00 in his claims against” First Niagara. Id. at 1. Plaintiff has also provided a stipulation signed by Mr. Pelletier, where he agreed not to seek more than $75, 000.00 from First Niagara. See Pl.'s Reply Ex. A at 12, ECF No. 23. The Court denied the motion. ECF No. 35.

         Plaintiff has moved for reconsideration of the Court's ruling on Plaintiff's motion to remand this case to Connecticut State Court.


         “The standard for granting [a motion for reconsideration] is strict, and reconsideration will generally be denied unless the moving party can point to controlling decisions or data that the court overlooked—matters, in other words, that might reasonably be expected to alter the conclusion reached by the court.” Shrader v. CSX Transp., Inc., 70 F.3d 255, 257 (2d Cir. 1995). “The major grounds justifying reconsideration are an intervening change of controlling law, the availability of new evidence, or the need to correct a clear error or prevent manifest injustice.” Virgin Atl. Airways, Ltd. v. Nat'l Mediation Bd., 956 F.2d 1245, 1255 (2d Cir. 1992) (internal citations omitted). A motion for reconsideration generally does not allow the moving party to revisit arguments that have already been presented before the court. See Shrader, 70 F.3d at 257 (“a motion for reconsideration should not be granted where the moving party seeks solely to relitigate an issue already decided.”).


         Plaintiff argues that the Court's legal error is threefold: (1) Schoonmaker v. Lawrence Brunoli, Inc., 265 Conn. 210 (2003) recognizes that Plaintiff is the real party in interest in an enforcement suit under § 31-72; (2) this Court should abstain from hearing this case because it presents novel questions of statutory interpretation and matters of public policy on which Connecticut courts have yet to provide guidance; and (3) “the mere allegation of a punitive damages claim . . . does not by itself render the complaint unambiguous or preclude the Court's further consideration of the punitive damages claim itself” and thus the jurisdictional amount-in-controversy threshold has not been met. See generally Pl.'s Br.

         A. Timeliness

         As a preliminary matter, Plaintiff's request for relief is untimely. A motion for reconsideration must be filed within seven days of the filing of the order from which such relief is sought. D. Conn. L. Civ. R. 7(c)(1). Plaintiff filed his motion for reconsideration twenty-eight days after the Court's September 22, 2017, Ruling on Plaintiff's motion to remand, and is therefore late. Plaintiff's pending motion makes no ...

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