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Doe v. Hotchkiss School

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

July 23, 2019

JOHN DOE, Plaintiff,
v.
HOTCHKISS SCHOOL, Defendant.

          RULING ON MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION

          VICTOR A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On February 5, 2015, John Doe sued The Hotchkiss School (“Defendant” or “Hotchkiss”) for negligence, recklessness, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and breach of fiduciary duty related to alleged sexual abuse while he attended Hotchkiss. Complaint, ECF No. 1.

         On March 8, 2019, the Court ruled on Hotchkiss's motion for summary judgment, dismissing the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim but allowing all other claims to proceed to trial. Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Hotchkiss's Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 296.

         On March 15, 2019, Hotchkiss moved for reconsideration on the Court's breach of fiduciary duty finding. Motion for Reconsideration, ECF No. 302.

         On April 4, 2019, John Doe filed a memorandum in opposition to Hotchkiss's reconsideration motion. Memorandum in Opposition to Motion for Reconsideration, ECF No. 305.

         On April 17, 2019, Hotchkiss filed a reply brief supporting its motion for reconsideration. Reply to Response, ECF No. 306.

         For the following reasons, the Court DENIES the motion for reconsideration.

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows a party to move to “alter or amend a judgment” no later than 28 days after the entry of the judgment. Courts consider a motion made under Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure a motion for reconsideration. See Krohn v. N.Y. City Police Dep't., 341 F.3d 177, 179 (2d Cir. 2003) (noting that a party timely filed for reconsideration under Fed R. Civ. P. 59(e)). “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- maters, 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); Lora v. O'Heaney, 602 F.3d 106, 111 (2d Cir. 2010).

         II. DISCUSSION

         A motion for reconsideration should be granted only where the defendant identifies “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); Kolel Bell Yechiel Mechil of Tartikov, Inc. v. YLL Irrevocable Tr., 729 F.3d 99, 104 (2d Cir. 2013).

         Here, neither the law nor facts have changed since the Court's ruling denying Hotchkiss's summary judgment motion regarding the breach of fiduciary duty claim. As a result, Hotchkiss must identify a clear error on the part of the Court for its motion to succeed.

         Hotchkiss argues that the Court overlooked decisions that it expects would alter its conclusion on the breach of fiduciary duty claim. Memorandum of Law in Support of Hotchkiss School's Motion for Reconsideration, ECF No. 303, at 3. Hotchkiss's core argument is that the Court found that the fiduciary relationship in this case was based on the duty of the care of negligence, not the loyalty and honesty of a fiduciary duty claim. Id. According to Hotchkiss, the Court must find fraud, self-dealing, or a conflict of interest for there to be a fiduciary duty. Id. at 3, 6.

         Hotchkiss relies on three arguments. First Hotchkiss relies on Sherwood v. Danbury Hosp., 278 Conn. 163, 196 (2006) to support its claim that fraud, self-dealing, or a conflict of interest is necessary for a breach of fiduciary duty. Second, Hotchkiss relies on Golek v. Saint Mary's Hosp., Inc., 133 Conn.App. 182, 198 (2012), Pawloski v. Delta Sigma Phi, No. CV030484661S, 2009 Conn. Super. LEXIS 170, at *17 (Conn. Super Ct. Jan. 23, 2009)), and Knelman v. Middlebury College, 570 Fed.Appx. 66 (2d Cir. 2014) (summary order) to support the proposition that colleges do not have a special relationship with their students. Third, Hotchkiss relies on Judge Arterton's conclusions in Bass v. Miss Porter's Sch., 738 F.Supp.2d 307 (D. Conn. 2010) and Brownville v. Indian Mtn. Sch., No. 3:14-cv-1472 (JBA), 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 139891 (D. Conn. Aug. ...


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