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Estate of Crawley v. Robinson

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 22, 2015

ESTATE OF STEPHEN E. CRAWLEY, NORMA CRAWLEY AND JOHNNY CRAWLEY, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVES OF THE ESTATE OF STEPHEN E. CRAWLEY, Plaintiffs,
v.
DAVE ROBINSON, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS KINGS COUNTY SHERIFF; SHAWN MCRAE, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS CAPACITY AS SERGEANT FOR KINGS COUNTY SHERIFF; MARIUS BARSTECEANU, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS CAPACITY AS SENIOR DEPUTY FOR KINGS COUNTY SHERIFF, Defendants.

ORDER DENYING MOVANTS' MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION. (Docs. 56, 58)

LAWRENCE J. O'NEILL, District Judge.

On May 6, 2015, the Magistrate Judge rendered his Order (Doc. 51), granting Plaintiff's motion to compel and ordering sanctions against Defense counsel. Before the Court in the above-styled and numbered cause of action is the City of Lemoore and Lemoore Police Department's Motion for Reconsideration by the District Court of the Magistrate Judge's Ruling, filed May 20, 2015 (Docs. 56 & 58). The matter is appropriate for resolution without oral argument. See Local Rule 230(g). Having carefully considered the record in this case, the parties' briefing, and the relevant case law, the Court will deny the motion.

I. BACKGROUND

On April 8, 2015, Plaintiffs The Estate of Stephen E. Crawley, Norma Crawley, and Jonny Crawley ("Plaintiffs") filed a motion to compel (Doc. 37), seeking to compel responses to certain deposition questions and the production of documents from third party witness Michael Kendall ("Kendall"), a police officer with the Lemoore Police Department. Kendall, the City of Lemoore, and the Lemoore Police Department filed an opposition on May 1, 2015.

On May 6, 2015, the Magistrate Judge rendered his Order granting Plaintiffs' motion to compel and issuing sanctions against defense counsel. (Doc. 51).

On May 20, 2015, the City of Lemoore and Lemoore Police Department filed their respective requests for reconsideration of the Magistrate Judge's Order. (Docs. 56 & 58). Plaintiffs timely filed an opposition to the request for reconsideration on May 22, 2015 (Doc. 61).

The matter is ripe for review.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Reconsideration motions are committed to the discretion of the trial court. Rodgers v. Watt, 722 F.2d 456, 460 (9th Cir. 1983) (en banc); Combs v. Nick Garin Trucking, 825 F.2d 437, 441 (D.C.Cir. 1987). A party seeking reconsideration must set forth facts or law of a strongly convincing nature to induce the court to reverse a prior decision. See e.g., Kern-Tulare Water Dist. v. City of Bakersfield, 634 F.Supp. 656, 665 (E.D.Cal. 1986), aff'd in part and rev'd in part on other grounds, 828 F.2d 514 (9th Cir. 1987).

"A motion for reconsideration should not be granted, absent highly unusual circumstances, unless the... court is presented with newly discovered evidence, committed clear error, or if there is an intervening change in the controlling law, " Marlyn Nutraceuticals, Inc. v. Mucos Pharma GmbH & Co., 571 F.3d 873, 880 (9th Cir. 2009), and "[a] party seeking reconsideration must show more than a disagreement with the Court's decision, and recapitulation...'" of that which was already considered by the court in rendering its decision. U.S. v. Westlands Water Dist.., 134 F.Supp.2d 1111, 1131 (E.D.Cal. 2001) ( quoting Bermingham v. Sony Corp. of Am., Inc., 820 F.Supp. 834, 856 (D.N.J. 1992)).

This Court reviews a motion to reconsider a Magistrate Judge's ruling under the "clearly erroneous or contrary to law" standard set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a). As such, the court may only set aside those portions of a Magistrate Judge's order that are either clearly erroneous or contrary to law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a); see also Grimes v. City and County of San Francisco, 951 F.2d 236, 240 (9th Cir. 1991) (discovery sanctions are non-dispositive pretrial matters that are reviewed for clear error under Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a)).

The "clearly erroneous' standard is significantly deferential." Concrete Pipe and Products of California, Inc. v. Construction Laborers Pension Trust for Southern California, 508 U.S. 602, 623 (1993). A district court may find a magistrate judge's factual findings "clearly erroneous" when the court is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed. Security Farms v. International Bhd. of Teamsters, 124 F.3d 999, 1014 (9th Cir. 1997); Green v. Baca, 219 F.R.D. 485, 489 (C.D.Cal. 2003). The "contrary to law" standard allows independent, plenary review of purely legal determinations by the magistrate judge. See Haines v. Liggett Group, Inc., 975 F.2d 81, 91 (3rd Cir. 1992); Green, 219 F.R.D. at 489; see also Osband v. Woodford, 290 F.3d 1036, 1041 (9th Cir. 2002). "An order is contrary to law when it fails to apply or misapplies relevant statutes, case law, or rules of procedure." Knutson v. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Minn., 254 F.R.D. 553, 556 (D.Minn. 2008); Rathgaber v. Town of Oyster Bay, 492 F.Supp.2d 130, 137 (E.D.N.Y. 2007); Surles v. Air France, 210 F.Supp.2d 501, 502 (S.D.N.Y. 2001); see Adolph Coors Co. v. Wallace, 570 F.Supp. 202, 205 (N.D.Cal. 1983).

"Pretrial orders of a magistrate under § 636(b)(1)(A)... are not subject to a de novo determination...." Merritt v. International Bro. of Boilermakers, 649 F.2d 1013, 1017 (5th Cir. 1981). "The reviewing court may not simply substitute its judgment for that of the deciding court." Grimes, 951 F.2d at 241; see Phoenix Engineering & Supply v. Universal Elec., 104 F.3d 1137, 1141 (9th Cir. 1997) ("the clearly erroneous standard allows [for] great deference"). A district court is able to overturn a magistrate judge's ruling "only if the district court is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been made.'" Computer Economics, Inc. v. Gartner Group, Inc., 50 F.Supp.2d 980, 983 (S.D.Cal. 1999) (quoting Weeks v. Samsung Heavy Indus. Co., Ltd., 126 F.3d 926, 943 (7th Cir. 1997)). Moreover, "[m]otions for reconsideration are disfavored, however, ...


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