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CENTRAL STATES, S.E./S.W. AREAS PEN. FUND v. KROGER CO.

United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois


September 18, 2003

CENTRAL STATES, SOUTHEAST AND SOUTHWEST AREAS PENSION FUND, AND HOWARD MCDOUGALL, TRUSTEE, AND CENTRAL STATES, SOUTHEAST AND SOUTHWEST AREAS HEALTH AND WELFARE FUND, AND HOWARD MCDOUGALL, TRUSTEE, PLAINTIFFS
v.
THE KROGER CO., AN OHIO CORPORATION, DEFENDANT

The opinion of the court was delivered by: David Coar, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Central States, Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Fund and the Central States, Southeast and Southwest Areas Health and Welfare Fund (collectively referred to as "Central [ Page 2]

States" or individually referred to as the "Pension Fund" or the "Health and Welfare Fund") brought an action under § 515 of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1145, to collect contributions allegedly owed by the Kroger Co. ("Kroger") to Central States. The parties filed cross motions for summary judgment, and on August 11, 2003, this Court issued an opinion granting Central States' summary judgment motion in part and denying it in part, and granting Kroger's summary judgment motion in part and denying it in part. Before this Court is Central States' motion requesting that the Court reconsider its ruling that all claims arising before June 18, 1983 are time-barred. After considering Central States' arguments, and for the following reasons, the Court will not revise its ruling that all claims arising prior to June 18, 1983 are time-barred

Standard for Reconsideration

Motions for reconsideration should be granted "to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence." KeeneCorp. v. International Fidelity Ins. Co., 561 F. Supp. 656, 665-66 (N.D. Ill. 1982), aff'd., 736 F.2d 388 (7th Cir. 1984). A motion of reconsideration shall be granted only if 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. A further basis for a motion for reconsideration would be a controlling or significant change in the law or facts since the submission of the issues to the Court. Such problems rarely arise and the motion to reconsider should be equally rare. Bank of Waunakee v. Rochester Cheese Sales, Inc., 906 F.2d 1185, 1191 (7th Cir. 1990), citing Above the Belt. Inc. v. Mel Bohannan Roofing, Inc., 99 F.R.D. 99, 101 (E.D. Va. 1983). [ Page 3]

Discussion

Central States claims that the Court misapplied Seventh Circuit precedent when it determined the applicable statute of limitations by using Illinois' 10 year statute of limitations for contracts, which, in conjunction with the June 18, 1993 tolling agreement between the parties, barred all claims arising before June 18, 1983. Central States argues that the controlling standard should be Cada v. Baxter Healthcare Co., 290 F.2d 446. In Cada, the Seventh Circuit provided the standard for determining the statute of limitations in federal question cases (even in those federal question cases where the statute of limitations is borrowed from state law). The statute of limitations does not begin to "accrue" until the plaintiff discovers that he has been injured (the "discovery rule"). Id. at 446, Central States claims that it neither knew nor should have known about Kroger's non-payment of contributions prior to the early 1990's; therefore, no part of Central States' claim should be barred by the statute of limitations. The discovery rule is applicable to circumstances such as Central States, where its injuries were not discoverable at the time of their occurrence. However, this Court also ruled that a lack of evidence precludes the Court from determining liability prior to 1983.

Consequently, Central States argues that the Court's conclusion that there is a lack of evidence to determine liability prior to June 18, 1983 should be reconsidered. In its Motion for Reconsideration, Central States, for the first time, points to evidence which allegedly establishes Kroger's liability prior to 1983. Central States argues that this Court went outside the adversarial issues presented to the Court in reaching the conclusion that there is a lack of evidence to determine liability prior to 1983. This assertion by Central States is erroneous, as it was crucial [ Page 4]

for this Court to determine the time frame of Kroger's liability, in order to properly ascertain the extent of Kroger's liability. It was the parties' responsibility to present evidence that would enable the Court to determine the extent of Kroger's liability for a particular year or time frame. This Court cannot hold Kroger liable for time periods where mere is insufficient evidence to determine liability. It was the responsibility of Central States to illuminate evidence proving Kroger's liability prior to 1983 during the disposition of the parties' cross motions for summary judgment, not during the disposition of this Motion for Reconsideration. "Reconsideration is not an appropriate forum for rehashing previously rejected arguments or matters that could have been heard during the pendency of the previous motion." Caisee National de Credit Argicole v. CBI Indus., 90 F.3d 1264 citing In Re Oil Spill, 794 F. Supp. 261, 267 (N.D. Ill. 1992) aff'd., 4 F.3d 997 (7th Cir. 1993) (citing Publishers Resources v. Walker-Davis Publications, 762 F.2d 557, 561 (7th Cir. 1985)).

Finally, in its Motion for Reconsideration, Central States requests that the Court modify its ruling to indicate that only claims arising prior to June 1, 1983 (not June 15, 1983) are time-barred, because Kroger's contribution payment for the month of June 1983 (including June 1 through June 17, 1983) was not due until July 15, 1983. However, in ruling on the parties* cross motions for summary judgment, the Court reviewed all briefs submitted by the parties in order to determine that all claims arising prior to June 18, 1983 are time-barred. "Motions for reconsideration serve a limited function: to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence." Keene, 561 F. Supp. at 665-66. Central States has not provided the Court with any facts or evidence that the Court did not have at its disposal during the disposition of the parties' cross motions for summary judgment. Therefore, the Court will not amend its [ Page 5]

ruling to indicate that only claims arising prior to June 1, 1983 are time-barred.

For the foregoing reasons, this Court will not revise its ruling that all claims arising before June 18, 1983 are time-barred.

20030918

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