The opinion of the court was delivered by: JENSEN
On October 23, 1991, the Court heard defendants' motion for reconsideration of portions of the August 13, 1991 Order in this case denying defendants' motion for summary judgment. Frederick W. Wentker, Jr. and Phillip Dalton of Lillick & Charles appeared on behalf of defendants the M/S Kiso and Vesta Co., Ltd.; Marvin Stender, of McTernan, Stender & Walsh, and Richard Dodson appeared on behalf of plaintiffs. For the reasons set forth below, defendants' motion for reconsideration is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.
The facts and history of this case are complex and are summarized in the Court's August 13, 1991 Order ("August Order"). Briefly, the present motion arises in an action by twenty Filipino seamen working aboard the M/S Kiso (the "Kiso") against the Kiso, in rem, and the owners and managers of the Kiso. The Kiso is a Liberian-flagged vessel which carries goods between the United States and Japan. The title owner of the Kiso is defendant Vesta Company, Ltd, ("Vesta") a Liberian corporation. The beneficial owner of the Kiso, however, is a Japanese corporation, defendant Nippon Yusen Kaisha Ship Management Corporation ("NYK"). The officers of the Kiso are also Japanese. Vesta contracted the responsibility for managing the Kiso to defendant Orion Shipping Co., Ltd. ("Orion"), a Japanese corporation. Plaintiffs allege that, while employed by defendants, they were subject to a pervasive pattern of abuse, including double-booking practices and non-payment of wages.
The Court heard plaintiffs' and defendants' cross-motions for summary judgment on June 14, 1991. The Court considered three issues in the August Order. First, the Court found that the Association of Marine Officers' and Seamens' Union of the Philippines ("AMOSUP") 1989 Collective Bargaining Agreement ("1989 CBA") governed plaintiffs' employment relationship with defendants; the Court granted summary judgment to plaintiffs on this issue. Second, plaintiffs and defendants also sought summary judgment on the effect of a Japanese arbitration proceeding on plaintiffs' wage claims. The Court held that neither party had sufficiently demonstrated that the Japanese arbitration did or did not bar plaintiffs wage claims, and therefore denied summary judgment to both parties. Finally, defendants moved for summary judgment on plaintiffs' claim under 46 U.S.C. § 10313, because (1) plaintiffs arguments were not made in good faith; (2) plaintiffs were paid in a timely fashion all wages due them under the 1989 CBA; and (3) with respect to plaintiff Salvador Ocampo, because Ocampo was not discharged in a United States port. This motion for summary judgment was also denied.
On September 13, 1991, the Kiso and Vesta (collectively "defendants") filed a motion for reconsideration of the Court's August Order, on grounds that (1) defendants' did not concede that plaintiffs were "discharged" within the meaning of § 10313 and (2) plaintiff Ocampo should have been denied standing because he was a foreign seaman discharged in a foreign country.
(1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect; (2) newly discovered evidence which by due diligence could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b), (3) fraud . . . of an adverse party, . . . or (6) any other reason justifying relief from the operation of the judgment.
Rule 60(b) motions apply only to final judgments, however, and not to interlocutory rulings. Nevertheless, district courts are authorized to reconsider interlocutory orders at any time prior to final judgment, independently of Rule 60(b). 11 Wright & Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure, § 2852, at 145; Vaughn v. Regents of University of California, 504 F. Supp. 1349, 1351 (E.D. Cal. 1981). Motions to reconsider are committed to the discretion of the trial court. Combs v. Nick Garin Trucking Co., 263 U.S. App. D.C. 300, 825 F.2d 437, 441 (D.C. Cir. 1987) (citing cases) (involving motion to reconsider a default judgment). Nevertheless, the Court looks to the standard used in examining a Rule 60(b) motion.
An order may be reconsidered if the Court made a clear error of law or if the prior order caused a manifest injustice to occur. In order for a party to demonstrate clear error, the moving party's arguments cannot be the same as those made earlier. Great Hawaiian Fin. Corp. v. Aiu, 116 F.R.D. 612, 617 (D.Haw. 1987) (citations omitted). If a party simply inadvertently failed to raise the arguments earlier, the arguments are deemed waived. Id. To succeed on a such a motion to reconsider, a party "must set forth facts or law of a strongly convincing nature to induce the court to reverse its prior decision." Id. at 616.
1. Defendants' "Discharge" Arguments
A seaman's right to wages is regulated by, among other things, 46 U.S.C. § 10313.
The statute, in part, entitles a seaman to receive on demand, one half of the balance of wages earned and unpaid at each port at which the vessel loads or delivers cargo during the voyage. Id. § 10313(e). The statute also requires the ship's master to pay a seaman all remaining wages within a specific period of time after the seaman's discharge, and imposes a penalty upon the master or owner if payment of wages after discharge is delayed. Id. § 10313(f)-(g). As noted in the August Order, the purpose of § 10313 is "'to secure prompt payment of seaman's wages . . . and thus to protect them from the harsh consequences of arbitrary and unscrupulous action of their employers, to which, as a class, they are peculiarly exposed.'" Griffin v. Oceanic Contractors, Inc., 458 U.S. 564, 102 S. Ct. 3245, 3250, 73 L. Ed. 2d 973 (1982) (Rehnquist, J.) (quoting Collie v. Fergusson, 281 U.S. 52, 55, 74 L. Ed. 696, 50 S. Ct. 189 (1930)). In light of this purpose, § 10313 and its predecessors have been liberally construed in favor of seamen. Isbrandtsen Co. v. Johnson, 343 U.S. 779, 72 S. Ct. 1011, 1014, 96 L. Ed. 1294 (1952) (construing 46 U.S.C. §§ 596 & 597)("Whenever congressional legislation in aid of seamen has been considered here, since 1872, the Court has emphasized that such legislation is largely remedial and calls for liberal interpretation in favor of seamen").