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SPEARMAN INDUSTRIES v. ST. PAUL FIRE AND MARINE

April 17, 2001

SPEARMAN INDUSTRIES, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
ST. PAUL FIRE AND MARINE INSURANCE COMPANY, DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Currently before the court is plaintiff's motion for reconsideration. For the following reasons, the court denies plaintiff's motion for reconsideration.

I. INTRODUCTION

Familiarity with the court's previous ruling — reported at Spearman Indus., Inc. v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 138 F. Supp.2d 1088 (N.D.Ill. 2001) — is assumed. The court will review the facts only as necessary to establish a context for the present motion.

Plaintiff Spearman ("Spearman") has filed a two-count complaint against defendant St. Paul ("St.Paul"). Count I seeks a declaration that Spearman has insurance coverage for damage to its entire roof. Count II seeks punitive damages for St. Paul's alleged bad faith in denying Spearman's claim. On April 10, 2001, the court denied Spearman's motion for summary judgment, denied St. Paul's motion for summary judgment on Count I, and granted St. Paul's motion for partial summary judgment on Count II.

Currently before the court is Spearman's motion for reconsideration. In its motion, Spearman submits that the court (1) denied its motion for summary judgment due to a mistaken notion that there is no precedential support for its position that the theory of proximate cause entitles it to summary judgment and (2) erroneously granted St. Paul's motion for partial summary judgment on Count II because "it is likely the Court did not consider the evidence belying St. Paul's claim of a good-faith dispute, evidence which was emphasized in the Reply." (Pl.'s Mot. Recons. at 4.).

II. DISCUSSION

Spearman's motion for reconsideration consists entirely of arguments it made earlier that this court already considered in ruling on the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. These arguments are not appropriate for a motion for reconsideration. See Fyrnetics (Hong Kong) Ltd. v. Quantum Group, Inc., No. 99 C 4704, 2001 WL 40900, at *2 (N.D.Ill. Jan. 11, 2001). See also Boyd v. Wexler, No. 00 C 2555, 2001 WL 219623, at *1 (N.D.Ill. Mar. 6, 2001) (stating that "filing a motion to reconsider should not be a `Pavlovian Response' to an adverse ruling."); Jefferson v. Sec. Pac. Fin. Servs., Inc., 162 F.R.D. 123, 125 (N.D.Ill. 1995) (stating that a motion to reconsider should not seek an "instant replay"); In re Oil Spill by the "Amoco Cadiz," 794 F. Supp. 261, 267 (N.D.Ill. 1992) (stating that a motion to reconsider should not "rehash" old arguments). Rather, "[m]otions for reconsideration serve a limited function: to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence." Rothwell Cotton Co. v. Rosenthal & Co., 827 F.2d 246, 251 (7th Cir. 1987) (quoted by Fyrnetics (Hong Kong) Ltd., 2001 WL 40900, at *2). Reconsideration is appropriate when "the Court has patently misunderstood a party, or has made a decision outside the adversarial issues presented to the Court by the parties, or has made an error not of reasoning but of apprehension." Bank of Waunakee v. Rochester Cheese Sales, Inc., 906 F.2d 1185, 1191 (7th Cir. 1990).

In this case, Spearman does not present new evidence or suggest that there has been any change in the facts or applicable law since this court's ruling. It does not suggest that this court "patently misunderstood" it or "made a decision outside the adversarial issues presented." Rather, Spearman's motion merely reasserts the arguments and allegations it previously raised in briefing the cross-motions for summary judgment and suggests that, in deciding the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment, this court inadvertently failed to consider these arguments.

Spearman posits two arguments in its motion for reconsideration. First, regarding the court's denial of Spearman's motion for summary judgment, Spearman contends that the court overlooked controlling law. Second, regarding the court's granting of St. Paul's motion for partial summary judgment on Count II, Spearman contends that the court overlooked certain evidence Spearman presented in its reply brief. Although Spearman's arguments are inappropriate for a motion for reconsideration, the court still will address each argument in turn.

A. Court order denying Spearman's motion for summary judgment

Spearman moved for summary judgment on Count I of its complaint, arguing that the theory of proximate cause entitled it to judgment as a matter of law. On April 10, 2001, the court rejected that argument and denied Spearman's motion on that basis. In its motion for reconsideration, Spearman submits that the court denied its motion for summary judgment due to a mistaken notion that there is no precedential support in Illinois law for Spearman's position regarding the importation of proximate cause principles into the construction of an insurance contract. Spearman then repeats its discussion of Mattis v. State Farm, 118 Ill. App.3d 612, 73 Ill. Dec. 907, 454 N.E.2d 1156 (1983), to support its argument that the theory of proximate cause applies in this case and entitles Spearman to summary judgment.

Also, in a motion to cite additional authority for its motion for reconsideration, Spearman cites as support Crete-Monee Sch. Dist. 201-U v. Indiana Ins. Co., No. 96 C 0275, 2000 WL 1222155 (N.D.Ill. Aug. 22, 2000), for its propositions that Mattis is controlling law and that the theory of proximate cause applies in this case and entitles it to relief. While the opinion of another district judge in this circuit can be persuasive, it is not binding precedent on this court. See Howard v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 160 F.3d 358, 359 (7th Cir. 1998) (holding that "a district court's decision does not have precedential authority"); Malabarba v. Chicago Tribune Co., 149 F.3d 690, 697 (7th Cir. 1998) (accord); Old Republic Ins. Co. v. Chuhak & Tecson, P.C., 84 F.3d 998, 1003 (7th Cir. 1996) (holding that "decisions by district judges do not have the force of precedent."). Further, while the facts in Crete-Monee are similar to the facts in case at hand, this court finds its reasoning unpersuasive. The court in Crete-Monee failed to cite as support any Illinois law besides Mattis, failed to distinguish or even mention Transamerica and its progeny, and relied instead on several cases applying other state law, including cases applying Wisconsin, West Virginia, and California state law. Id. at *8-9. Further, Crete-Monee is distinguishable from this case because in Crete-Monee, the parties agreed as to the cause of damage to the roof, while in the case at hand there is a genuine issue of material fact regarding the cause of damage to the roof. Id. at *7.

Contrary to Spearman's argument, the court did consider Mattis in denying Spearman's motion for summary judgment. As Spearman points out, in 1983, the Illinois appellate court in Mattis stated, "[w]here a policy expressly insures against loss caused by one risk but excludes loss caused by another risk, coverage is extended to a loss caused by the insured risk even though the excluded risk is a contributory cause." Mattis, 73 Ill. Dec. 907, 454 N.E.2d at 1161. However, Mattis is not controlling law. As this court stated in denying Spearman's motion for summary judgment based on the theory of proximate cause, the Seventh Circuit recently rejected such an argument and stated that, in Illinois, the importation of tort principles of proximate cause into the construction of insurance policies is inappropriate. Spearman, 138 F. Supp.2d at 1093 (citing Transamerica Ins. Co. ...


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