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Rupert v. Bond

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division

January 6, 2015

WILLIAM RUPERT, Plaintiff,
v.
SUSAN BOND, et al., Defendants.

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR RELIEF FROM FINAL JUDGMENT [Re: ECF 161]

BETH LABSON FREEMAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff William Rupert moves for relief from final judgment related to this Court's September 22, 2014 Order dismissing the above-captioned case for lack of personal jurisdiction.[1] All Defendants oppose. The Court finds this motion appropriate for determination without oral argument, see Civil L.R. 7-1(b), and DENIES Plaintiff's motion.

I. LEGAL STANDARDS

A court can, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e), alter or amend a judgment upon a showing of one of four grounds: "(1) the motion is necessary to correct manifest errors of law or fact; (2) the moving party presents newly discovered or previously unavailable evidence; (3) the motion is necessary to prevent manifest injustice; or (4) there is an intervening change in controlling law." Turner v. Burlington N. Santa Fe R.R., 338 F.3d 1058, 1063 (9th Cir. 2003). A motion brought under Rule 59 is not an opportunity for a party to re-litigate the claims that were before the Court prior to judgment, but is instead an "extraordinary remedy, to be used sparingly in the interests of finality and conservation of judicial resources." Kona Enterps., Inc. v. Estate of Bishop, 229 F.3d 877, 890 (9th Cir. 2000) ("A Rule 59(e) motion may not be used to raise arguments or present evidence for the first time when they could reasonably have been raised earlier in the litigation, " and should not be granted "absent highly unusual circumstances.").[2]

II. DISCUSSION

A. An Intervening Change in Controlling Law

Plaintiff argues that a September 2, 2014 case from the Ninth Circuit, Levitt v. Yelp! Inc., 765 F.3d 1123 (9th Cir. 2014), "clarifies the standards for civil extortion and attempted extortion" and would permit Plaintiff to amend his SAC to allege violations of the Hobbs Act.

Plaintiff's argument is without merit. Plaintiff's ability to state a Hobbs Act claim is immaterial to the Court's finding that it lacks personal jurisdiction over the parties due to their insufficient contacts with California. Even more critically, Plaintiff does not articulate any way in which Levitt changes the Ninth Circuit's standards for stating a Hobbs Act violation. In Levitt, the Ninth Circuit simply applied the relevant case law of the circuit, including Sosa v. DirecTV, Inc., 437 F.3d 923 (9th Cir. 2006), to the facts before it. Levitt thus does not set forth a new rule with regard to the Hobbs Act and, as such, is not an "intervening change in law." See, e.g., United States v. Iron Mountain Mines, Inc., 2010 WL 1854118, at *3 (E.D. Cal. May 6, 2010).

B. Manifest Errors of Law

Plaintiff claims that the Court made nine separate manifest errors of law in its Dismissal Order. See Mot. at 8-21. A manifest error of law is not merely one in which the party disagrees with the Court, but instead is the "wholesale disregard, misapplication, or failure to recognize controlling precedent on the part of the court." Oto v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 224 F.3d 601, 606 (7th Cir. 2000) ("A manifest error is not demonstrated by the disappointment of the losing party."). Plaintiff essentially challenges three of the Court's legal determinations: (1) that the Defendants were not subject to personal jurisdiction in California, (2) the Court's application of the Noerr-Pennington doctrine to this case, and (3) Susan Bond's status as trustee.

1. Personal Jurisdiction

Plaintiff makes four arguments relevant to the Court's determination that the Defendants were not subject to personal jurisdiction in California.

First, Plaintiff argues that Defendant Susan Bond consented to jurisdiction in California. Plaintiff, in his Opposition to the Sibling Defendants' motion to dismiss, see ECF 121, did not once argue that Ms. Bond consented to jurisdiction in California. This is simply a new argument about personal jurisdiction with regard to one Defendant, and a Rule 59(e) motion is not an appropriate avenue to obtain post-judgment re-argument of claims that were, or could have been, raised earlier in the litigation. See, e.g., NL Indus., Inc. v. Commercial Union Ins. Co., 935 F.Supp. 513, 515-16 (D.N.J. 1996).

Second, Plaintiff contends that the Court's application of the three-prong Calder effects test for personal jurisdiction was in error, and is inconsistent with Schwarzenegger v. Fred Martin Motor Co., 374 F.3d 797 (9th Cir. 2004). The Court did not commit manifest error in its determination that the Sibling, Downes, and Cartwright Defendants did not purposefully direct their suit-related activities toward California. See, e.g., Dismissal Order at 26 (citing Sher v. Johnson, 911 F.2d 1357, 1363 (9th Cir. 1990)). A Rule 59(e) motion is not an opportunity for Plaintiff to obtain reconsideration because he disagrees with the Court's application of controlling law, but rather ...


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