United States District Court, D. Connecticut
REBECCA M. MURILLO, Plaintiff,
A BETTER WAY WHOLESALE AUTOS, INC and WESTLAKE SERVICES, LLC, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION ON DENYING DEFENDANT'S
MOTION TO STAY [DKT. 60] AND MOTION TO ALTER JUDGMENT [DKT.
61] AND GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR ATTORNEY FEES
[DKT. 59] AND MOTION FOR ENTRY OF JUDGMENT [DKT. 64]
Vanessa L. Bryant, United States District Judge.
15, 2019, the Court granted [Dkt. 58] Plaintiff's Rebecca
Murillo's motion to affirm an arbitration award [Dkt. 40]
against A Better Way Wholesale Autos, Inc.'s
(“ABW”) and Westlake Services, LLC's motion
to vacate [Dkt. 45]. ABW now moves for reconsideration of the
Court's July 15, 2019 pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e).
[Dkt. 61]. ABW seeks a stay of judgment pending the
Court's resolution of ABW's motion for
reconsideration. [Dkt. 60]. Also pending are Ms.
Murillo's Motion to Enter Judgement against ABW [Dkt. 64]
and Motion for Attorney Fees for having to confirm the
arbitration award and having to oppose ABW's motion to
vacate [Dkt. 59]. For reasons set forth below, the Court
DENIES ABW's Motion for Reconsideration [Dkt. 61] and
DENIES its Motion for a Stay [Dkt. 62]. The Court GRANTS Ms.
Murillo's Motion to Award Attorney Fees [Dkt. 59] in the
amount of $14, 600.00 and enters judgment consistent with the
July 15, 2019 Order. Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 11(c)(3), the
Court orders Attorney Votre to show cause within seven days
as to why he has not violated Fed.R.Civ.P. 11(b) by filing
the redundant motion for reconsideration now before the
Ms. Murillo filed suit against ABW alleging, inter
alia, unfair trade practices in connection with the
purchase and financing of a used automobile. [Dkt. 1
(Compl.)]. ABW and co-defendant Westlake Services, LLC's
moved to stay the proceedings and compel arbitration based on
terms in the purchase order and retail installment contract,
respectively, and Plaintiff agreed. [Dkt. 33 (ABW Stay &
Compel Arbitration Mot.); Dkt. 34 (Plf. Resp. ABW Arbitration
Mot.); Dkt. 37 (Westlake Stay Mot.); Dkt. 38 (Plf. Resp.
Westlake Stay Mot.)]. The Court granted ABW's motion to
stay the proceedings and arbitrate on May 15, 2018 and
Westlake's similar motions on August 30, 2018. [Dkt. 35];
October 2018, an arbitrator awarded Ms. Murillo compensatory
damages, statutory damages, interest, attorney fees, and
punitive damages equal to twenty-five times the compensatory
damages. [Dkt. 40 (Mot. to Re-open and Affirm)]. The Court
affirmed the arbitration award over ABW's motion to
vacate. [Dkt. 58 (Ord. granting Mot. to Affirm Arbitration;
denying Mot. to Exclude; denying Mot. to Strike)].
technical matter, prior to this Order, the Court had not yet
entered judgment for the Plaintiff. Consequently, ABW's
motion under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) is premature. Therefore,
ABW's seeks reconsideration of the Court's July 15,
2019 Order. Pursuant to Local Rule 7(c), motions for
reconsideration must be filed within seven days of the entry
of the initial decision or order. ABW filed its motion on
August 12, 2019, so it is also untimely. In the interest of
judicial efficiency, we will consider ABW's motion under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) on the merits, as if the judgment was
entered contemporaneous with the Court's July 15, 2019
motion to alter or amend a judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e)
must be filed no later than 28 days of entry of the
judgment. “The standard for granting such a
motion 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). District
courts may alter or amend judgment “to correct a clear
error of law or prevent manifest injustice.” Munafo
v. Metro. Transp. Auth., 381 F.3d 99, 105 (2d Cir. 2004)
(internal quotations omitted).
is well-settled that Rule 59 is not a vehicle for
relitigating old issues, presenting the case under new
theories, securing a rehearing on the merits, or otherwise
taking a second bite at the apple...'”
Analytical Surveys, Inc. v. Tonga Partners, L.P.,
684 F.3d 36, 52 (2d Cir. 2012) (quoting Sequa Corp. v.
GBJ Corp., 156 F.3d 136, 144 (2d Cir.1998)); see
also Shrader, 70 F.3d at 257 (“[A] motion to
reconsider should not be granted where the moving party seeks
solely to relitigate an issue already decided.”). Such
a motion “‘is not a means to reargue those issues
already considered when a party does not like the way the
original motion was resolved.'” Doe v.
Winchester Bd. Of Educ., No. 3:10CV1179 VAB, 2017 WL
662898, at *2 (D. Conn. Feb. 17, 2017) (quoting Pierce v.
Lee, No. 3:08CV1721 VLB, 2010 WL 4683911, at *1 (D.
Conn. Nov. 4, 2010)). “A motion for reconsideration is
an extraordinary remedy, and this Court will not reconsider
issues already examined simply because [a party] is
dissatisfied with the outcome of his case. To do otherwise
would be a waste of judicial resources.” Stoner v.
Young Concert Artists, Inc., No. 11 CIV. 7279 LAP, 2013
WL 2425137, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. May 20, 2013) (citations
district court's decision to deny a party's motion to
alter or amend judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) is reviewed
for abuse of discretion. Munafo v. Metro. Transp.
Auth., 381 F.3d at 105 (2d Cir. 2004).
than showing controlling decisions or data overlooked by the
Court in its July 15, 2019 decision, ABW reiterates the same
arguments previously raised in its Motion to Vacate [Dkt. 44
(Mem. of Law in Sup. Of Mot. to Vacate)]. In some instances,
the argument is verbatim, without citation to the fact that
the Court has already considered and rejected the argument.
ABW's factual summary in its Memorandum in Support of its
Rule 59(e) motion [Dkt. 61 at 2-4] is taken verbatim from the
factual summary in ABW's Memorandum in Support of its
Motion to Vacate [Dkt. 44 at 1-5], except for the fact that
the earlier brief contains the complete text of the
arbitrator's award and reasoning. By contrast, the latter
brief only contains the arbitrator's categorical award
amounts. [Dkt. 61 at 2-4]. ABW presents no factual data
overlooked by the Court in its July 15, 2019 Order for
purposes of its Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) motion.
The Arbitrator's award constituted manifest disregard
for the law as to punitive damages because it exceeded the
amount of the claim submitted to arbitration.
first argues that the District Court failed to recognize that
“[Murillo's] demand in the arbitration was for
punitive damages of 5 times compensatory damages which was
well within constitutional limitations. The parties entered
into an agreement to arbitrate with the Plaintiff claiming
and paying only for a claim not exceeding $50, 000.00.”
[Dkt. 61. (Def. Mot. for Reconsideration) at 8-11].
ABW argues that the District Court misapprehended the facts
of the case because it failed to consider whether the
arbitrator ignored the submission agreement, which ABW
asserts limited jurisdiction over the claim to damages not
exceeding $50, 000. Id. at 10. ABW additionally
argues that it only had notice of a claim less than $50, 000
and prepared its defense accordingly. Id. at 8.
already raised the argument that the award “exceeded
the claim range paid for by the parties…[and]
significantly exceeded the submission documents.” [Dkt.
44 (Def. Mot. to Vacate) at 15]. The Court previously
rejected this argument. [Dkt. 58 (Order Affirming Arb. Award)
at 18] (“Defendants cite no law to support their
argument that the arbitrator's award of punitive damages
is somehow in disregard of the law simply because it is
greater than the amount requested by Plaintiff when the
parties' submissions to the arbitrator plainly allow for
a punitive damages award.”) Still on reconsideration,
ABW cites no case law to support its position that the
arbitration submission limited jurisdiction. That fact alone
is enough to foreclose relief under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e). Even
so, the arguments fail on the merits.
addressed in the Court's prior decision, the Second
Circuit has laid out the separate standards for assessing
vacatur of an arbitration award under 9 § 10(a)(4) of
the Federal Arbitration Act and under the judicial doctrine
of vacatur for manifest disregard of the law. [Dkt. 58 (Order
Granting Mot. to Affirm) at 6-7]. ABW's argument merges
these distinct concepts. Under 9 U.S.C. § 10(a)(4) of
the Federal Arbitration Act, vacatur of an arbitrator's
award is available “where the arbitrators exceeded
their powers, or so imperfectly executed them that a mutual,
final, and definite award upon the subject matter submitted
was not made.” Manifest disregard for the law, by
contrast, requires the court to find “something beyond
and different from a mere error in the law or failure on the
part of the arbitrators to understand or apply the
law.” Westerbeke Corp. v. Daihatsu Motor Co.,
304 F.3d 200, 208 (2d Cir. 2002) (citations omitted).
ABW's argument that arbitration submission deprived the
arbitrator of jurisdiction to award damages beyond the prayer
for relief falls under § 10(a)(4).
Court's prior order analyzed the powers conveyed by the
parties to the arbitrator pursuant to the arbitration
agreements contained in the Retail Purchase Order and the
Retail Installment Contract. [Dkt. 58 (Order Granting Mot. to
Affirm) at 9-11]. The Court already determined that
“the contracts do not include any limitation on the
arbitrator's powers to impose an award of punitive
damages, or otherwise.” Id. at 9. Neither
arbitration agreement contains any cap on the amount of
available damages. [Dkt. 51-2, Ex. D ¶ 9 (Def. Mot. to
Exclude)(Purchase Order); [Dkt. 49-2, Ex. 3 at 4 (Def. Mot.
to Vacate)(Retail Installment Contract)]. The entire language
of the arbitration clauses is included in the appendix to
presents no controlling legal authority to establish that the
Court misconstrued whether the arbitration clauses in the
respective contracts empowered the arbitrator to award
punitive damages; rather, ABW argues that arbitration
submission itself capped the claim at $50, 000. [Dkt. 61
(Def. Mot. to Alter Judgment) at 8-10]. ABW confuses
pleadings in arbitration for an arbitration ...