United States District Court, District of Columbia
VALERIE R. WHITE, et al., Plaintiffs,
HILTON HOTELS RETIREMENT PLAN, et al., Defendants.
COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
seek reconsideration of this Court's denial, see
March 31, 2019 Order, ECF No. 63, of their Motion for Leave
to Amend Complaint to Add Additional Named Representative,
ECF No. 58. The Court previously discussed the relevant
background of this case in its March 31, 2019 Memorandum
Opinion, ECF No. 64, to which it refers the reader. Upon
consideration of the briefing,  the relevant legal authorities,
and the record as a whole, the Court DENIES
Plaintiffs' Motion to Reconsider March 31, 2019 Decision
Denying Motion to Add Additional Named Representative, ECF
Rule 54(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the
district court may revise its own interlocutory orders
“at any time before the entry of judgment adjudicating
all the claims and all the parties' rights and
liabilities.” Fed. R. C i v. P. 54(b).
Rule 54(b) affords a procedural mechanism for courts to
reconsider prior interlocutory orders, its actual text
provides little guidance as to when reconsideration may be
appropriate. Wultz v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 762
F.Supp.2d 18, 23 (D.D.C. Jan. 28, 2011). To fill this gap,
the United States Court of Appeals for the District of
Columbia has provided that relief under Rule 54(b) is
available “as justice requires.” Capitol
Sprinkler Inspection, Inc. v. Guest Servs., Inc., 630
F.3d 217, 227 (D.C. Cir. 2011). In general, “a court
will grant a motion for reconsideration of an interlocutory
order only when the movant demonstrates: (1) an intervening
change in the law; (2) the discovery of new evidence not
previously available; or (3) a clear error in the first
order.” Stewart v. Panetta, 826 F.Supp.2d 176,
177 (D.D.C. 2011) (quoting Johnson-Parks v. D.C.
Chartered Health Plan, 806 F.Supp.2d 267, 269 (D.D.C.
2011)). In the final analysis, the district court must ask
whether relief upon reconsideration is “necessary under
the relevant circumstances.” Lewis v. District of
Columbia, 736 F.Supp.2d 98, 102 (D.D.C. 2010) (internal
quotation marks omitted) (quoting Cobell v. Norton,
224 F.R.D. 266, 272 (D.D.C. 2004)). In this regard, the
district court's discretion is broad. Id.
party moving the court to reconsider its decision carries the
burden of proving that some harm would accompany a denial of
the motion to reconsider: “In order for justice to
require reconsideration, logically, it must be the case that,
some sort of ‘injustice' will result if
reconsideration is refused.” Cobell v. Norton,
355 F.Supp.2d 531, 540 (D.D.C. 2005). In other words,
“the movant must demonstrate that some harm, legal or
at least tangible, would flow from a denial of
reconsideration.” Id. But “to promote
finality, predictability and economy of judicial resources,
as a rule a court should be loathe to revisit its own prior
decisions in the absence of extraordinary circumstances such
as where the initial decision was clearly erroneous and would
work a manifest injustice.” Pueschel v. Nat'l
Air Traffic Controllers' Ass'n, 606 F.Supp.2d
82, 85 (D.D.C. 2009) (internal quotation marks and
alterations omitted) (quoting Lederman v. United
States, 539 F.Supp.2d 1, 2 (D.D.C. 2008)).
do not move for reconsideration on the basis that there is
new law or evidence. Instead, they contend that four errors
in the Court's March 31, 2019 Order and Memorandum
Opinion renders reconsideration necessary. Defendants claim
that there were no such errors, that any errors do not result
in injustice, and that the Court had alternative bases on
which to deny Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to Amend the
Complaint, ECF No. 58. Despite Plaintiffs' assertions
that the grounds for denying Plaintiffs' Motion were not
sufficiently addressed in the prior briefing, the parties
previously addressed many of these issues at length. See,
e.g., Defs.' Opp'n to Pls.' Mot. to Amend at
9-14 (arguing futility as ground for denial); Pls.' Reply
in Supp. of Mot. to Amend at 5-8 (responding to
Defendants' futility arguments). Regardless, the Court
will briefly consider each of Plaintiffs' arguments here.
Plaintiffs contend that the March 31, 2019 decision
“does not conform with the ‘law of the case'
doctrine based on a ‘reason' that the parties never
‘squarely addressed.'” Pls.' Mot. for
Recons. at 2. As the Court noted above, Plaintiffs did indeed
respond to the general argument that amendment would be
futile in the original briefing. See Pls.' Reply
in Supp. of Mot. to Amend at 5-8. So too did this Court
consider Plaintiffs' law of the case doctrine argument.
See March 31, 2019 Mem. Op. at 11-12. Now,
Plaintiffs argue that the Court is bound by the law of the
case established by this Court's August 18, 2017 decision
finding that Plaintiffs had sufficiently plead a plausible
claim under Rule 12(b)(6) as to non-participating services.
See Pls.' Mot. for Recons. at 2-3.
Plaintiffs' arguments do not convince this Court that it
erred on this issue.
law-of-the-case doctrine generally provides that ‘when
a court decides upon a rule of law, that decision should
continue to govern the same issues in subsequent stages in
the same case.'” Musacchio v. United
States, 136 S.Ct. 709, 716 (2016) (quoting Pepper v.
United States, 562 U.S. 476, 506 (2011)). It rests on
the premise that “the same issue presented a
second time in the same case in the same
court should lead to the same result.”
LaShawn A. v. Barry, 87 F.3d 1389, 1393 (D.C. Cir.
1996) (en banc). The “law-of-the-case doctrine is a
prudential creation of the courts.” Id. at
Plaintiffs contend that this Court is bound by its prior
August 18, 2017 Order on Defendants' Rule 12(b)(6)
motion, some discussion of that decision is warranted. In
ruling on that motion, the Court considered Defendants'
arguments that this Court's decisions in Kifafi
were inapposite to Ms. Eva Juneau's claim. August 18,
2017 Mem. Op., ECF No. 21, at 4. The Court explained that
“the fact that the Court did not address this claim in
Kifafi does not render it inactionable within the
confines of this matter.” Id. Moreover, the
Court concluded that, specifically as to Ms. Juneau,
“Plaintiffs ha[d] pleaded sufficient factual matter to
stake out a plausible claim under Rule 12(b)(6).”
Id. In short, the Court found that the complaint
sufficiently pled this claim, but it did not examine
Kifafi's relevance to this claim. See
Id. at 1, 4.
issues discussed related to the August 18, 2017 decision and
those discussed regarding the Court's March 31, 2019
decision do not present “the same issue.”
LaShawn A., 87 F.3d at 1393. To begin with, the
Court's discussion in the August 18, 2017 Memorandum
Opinion and Order focused on the specific facts pleaded as to
Ms. Juneau. See August 18, 2017 Mem. Op. at 4
(discussing specific allegations regarding property at which
Ms. Juneau worked); see also March 31, 2019 Mem. Op.
at 2 (“[T]he Court touched on Kifafi but
focused on the viability of Plaintiffs' individual
claims, rather than those of the subclasses they proposed to
represent.”). The Court therefore did not contemplate
whether Mr. Hemphill, who did not work at the same property,
could state a claim. More importantly, the Court did not
specifically consider “what if any effect its prior
rulings in Kifafi may have” on the claims
alleged in the complaint. August 18, 2017 Mem. Op. at 1.
these reasons, the earlier decision did not create any
binding law of the case on the specific issue of whether
Kifafi “decide[d] the right that Plaintiffs
now purport to enforce based on Kifafi.” March
31, 2019 Mem. Op. at 11. To the extent that it could be
construed as doing so, the Court notes that this prudential
doctrine is not a limit on this Court's power; courts may
depart from prior rulings, especially when the prior motion
was an interlocutory order such as a motion to dismiss.
See Langevine v. District of Columbia, 106 F.3d
1018, 1023 (D.C. Cir. 1997) (“Interlocutory orders are
not subject to the law of the case doctrine and may always be
reconsidered prior to final judgment.”); Int'l
Union, United Gov't Sec. Officers of Am. v. Clark,
706 F.Supp.2d 59, 64 (D.D.C. 2010) (“The Supreme Court
has made clear that denial of a motion to dismiss is an
interlocutory order.”), aff'd sub nom. Barkley
v. U.S. Marshals Serv. ex rel. Hylton, 766 F.3d 25 (D.C.
Cir. 2014). Plaintiffs' argument on this basis therefore
and third, Plaintiffs argue that this Court erred in assuming
that issue preclusion only precludes the ultimate issue,
rather than distinct issues of law and fact. Pls.' Mot.
for Recons. at 3-5. Plaintiffs also argue that the Court
erred because it assumed “that if this Court were to
determine that there were no rulings in