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FRESH KIST PRODUCE, LLC v. CHOI CORP.

March 10, 2003

FRESH KIST PRODUCE, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
CHOI CORPORATION, INC. d/b/a, WASHINGTON WHOLESALE PRODUCE COMPANY et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: URBINA, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GRANTING THE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO AMEND THE COURT'S JUDGMENT

 I. INTRODUCTION

  Plaintiff Fresh Kist Produce ("Fresh Kist"), a seller of perishable produce, brings this motion to collect pre-judgment interest from defendant J.C. Watson ("JCW"), also a seller of perishable produce. Fresh Kist asks the court to amend its July 31, 2002 Memorandum Opinion by adding to its judgment the requirement that JCW pay pre-judgment interest on the disgorged funds. The Memorandum Opinion granted in part Fresh Kist's motion for summary judgment and required JCW to disgorge certain funds. For the reasons that follow, the court grants the plaintiff's motion to modify the judgment and require JCW to pay pre-judgment interest.

 II. BACKGROUND*fn1

  Both Fresh Kist and JCW are produce sellers falling within the provisions of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act ("PACA"), 7 U.S.C. § 499a et seq. PACA requires produce buyers to pay proceeds from sales into floating trusts to protect produce sellers when produce buyers default on payment. Pursuant to PACA, if a produce buyer becomes insolvent and is unable to pay its sellers for their perishable goods, the sellers may collect a pro rata payment from the PACA trust, preempting other creditors' claims.

  Produce seller Fresh Kist brought the instant case to recover PACA trust funds that produce seller JCW obtained by filing an earlier case, C.A. No. 01-1225 (D.D.C. filed on June 5, 2001), against Washington Wholesale Produce Company ("WWP"), a buyer that bought produce from both Fresh Kist and JCW. The facts of the instant case are intertwined with those of the earlier case (C.A. No. 01-1225). In the earlier case, produce seller JCW asserted that produce buyer WWP owed it $70,946.90 for unpaid invoices for perishable produce commodities. JCW's Compl. (C.A. No. 01-1225). In its June 5, 2001 complaint, JCW plead that WWP was insolvent. Id. ¶ 19. WWP paid a total of $59,189.40 to JCW pursuant to a partial settlement and the Consent Order compelling this payment. Consent Order dated Aug. 10, 2001 (C.A. No. 01-1225); Mem. Op. dated July 31, 2002 at 3.

[251 F. Supp.2d 140]

     

  On August 28, 2001, Fresh Kist filed, in the instant case, a complaint and a motion for a temporary restraining order and an order establishing a non-party PACA claims procedure. The court issued a temporary restraining order freezing WWP's PACA trust funds and requiring WWP to pay $11,757.50, the amount still owed to JCW pursuant to the Consent Order in C.A. No. 01-1225, into the court's registry. Order Granting Motion for T.R.O. dated Aug. 29, 2001. In its motion for summary judgment, Fresh Kist argued that JCW violated applicable laws by taking WWP's PACA trust funds once it knew WWP was insolvent. Pl.'s Mot. for Summ. J. Ruling on Fresh Kist's and JCW's cross-motions for summary judgment, this court held, inter alia, that (1) Fresh Kist is a qualified PACA trust beneficiary, (2) JCW breached and dissipated the PACA trust, (3) JCW did not enhance the value of the trust, and (4) JCW must return $59,189.40 (the funds JCW had demanded from WWP in violation of PACA) to the PACA trust. Mem. Op. dated July 31, 2002 at 5, 18.

  In the instant motion, Fresh Kist asks the court to amend its judgment by ordering JCW to pay pre-judgment interest on the disgorgement amount — the $59,189.40 it accepted from WWP in violation of PACA. Pl.'s Mot. to Amend Summ. J. ¶ 7. The plaintiff argues that the interest is needed to compensate the PACA trust beneficiaries for the interest that would have accrued to them had WWP promptly paid the money owed to them pursuant to the provisions governing the PACA trust. Id. Fresh Kist argues that the court should award pre-judgment interest calculated from June 5, 2001 (the date of JCW's complaint alleging that WWP was insolvent) through July 31, 2002 (the date of the court's Memorandum Opinion ordering disgorgement). Id. at 3.

  III. ANALYSIS

  A. Legal Standard for Amendment of Judgment Pursuant to Rule 59(e)

  Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) motions to alter or amend a judgment must be filed within 10 days of the entry of the judgment at issue. FED. R. CIV. P. 59(e); W.C. & A.N. Miller Cos. v. United States, 173 F.R.D. 1, 3 (D.D.C. 1997) (citing Derrington-Bey v. Dist. of Columbia Dep't of Corrections, 39 F.3d 1224, 1226 (D.C. Cir. 1994)). While the court has considerable discretion in ruling on a Rule 59(e) motion, the reconsideration and amendment of a previous order is an extraordinary measure. Firestone v. Firestone, 76 F.3d 1205, 1208 (D.C. Cir. 1996) (per curiam) (citations omitted). Rule 59(e) motions "need not be granted unless the district court finds that there is an `intervening change of controlling law, the availability of new evidence, or the need to correct a clear error or prevent manifest injustice.'" Id. Finally, "[a] Rule 59(e) motion to reconsider is not simply an opportunity to reargue facts and theories upon ...


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