United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
ST. EVE United States District Court Judge.
March 6, 2017, the court denied Defendant Westchester Fire
Insurance Company's (“Westchester”) motion
for summary judgment on Counts VI and XIV of Plaintiff
Velsicol Chemical's (“Velsicol”) Complaint
finding that there were genuine issues of fact as to whether
the parties' tolling agreement and Illinois statutory law
barred Velsicol from bringing claims relating to a
remediation site in Chattanooga, Tennessee (the
“Chattanooga Site”). Westchester has now filed
the present motion for reconsideration pursuant Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 59(e). For the following reasons, the
Court denies Westchester's motion for reconsideration.
case arises from Westchester's refusal to offer Velsicol
insurance coverage for certain sites at issue in this case
under insurance policy number 523 2388653 (the
“Policy”). The Court presumes the parties'
familiarity with the background of this case, but briefly
recites the background relevant to this motion.
1998, Velsicol joined a lawsuit in Illinois state court
against International, Westchester's predecessor in
interest to the Policy, alleging claims for breach of
contract and declaratory judgment. (R. 65, ¶ 5.) On
October 19, 2006, the trial court in the Illinois state court
action granted International's motion for summary
judgment. (Id. ¶ 10.) Velsicol did not appeal
the ruling and voluntarily dismissed its claims against
International on January 15, 2008. (Id. ¶ 11.)
Westchester was not a named party in the Illinois action.
and International also entered into a tolling agreement (the
“Tolling Agreement”), effective January 15, 2008,
which provided, in relevant part, that “the Parties,
after dismissal without prejudice, shall have one year
following date of dismissal of the [l]awsuit, in which to
re-file the [l]awsuit.” (Id. ¶ 13.) The
Tolling Agreement also stated that the parties could only
extend the one-year period in which they could re-file the
lawsuit by reaching a written agreement signed by all of the
parties. (Id.) Velsicol did not file a lawsuit in
the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois against
International during the period from January 15, 2008,
through January 15, 2009. (Id. ¶ 14.) The
parties did not enter into a written extension of the tolling
agreement. (Id. ¶ 15.) On March 25, 2015,
Velsicol filed this Complaint against Westchester. Claims
relating to many of the sites giving rise to this case were
also at issue in the Illinois state court lawsuit.
(Id. ¶ 19.)
August 2016, Westchester filed a motion seeking summary
judgment on Counts VI and XIV of Velsicol's Complaint.
Westchester argued that it was not liable for Velsicol's
expenses in relation to the Chattanooga Site because the
Tolling Agreement and Illinois statutory law barred Velsicol
from bringing claims relating to the Chattanooga Site filed
more than one year after Velsicol voluntarily dismissed its
prior lawsuit. On March 6, 2017, the court denied
Westchester's motion for summary judgment. The court
found that there were “genuine issues of material fact
as to the appropriate statute of limitations period, the
applicability of the tolling agreement, and the date the
statute-of-limitations period began.” (R. 97, March 6,
2017 Opinion.) Westchester now asks the Court to reconsider
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not specifically provide
for motions to “reconsider, ” and courts analyze
such motions differently depending on whether the subject of
the motion is an interlocutory order or a final judgment.
Since the court's order denying Westchester's motion
for partial summary judgment did not dispose of all claims
and parties, it amounted to an interlocutory order, and
courts have inherent authority under Rule 54(b) to reconsider
interlocutory orders “at any time before entering a
final judgment.” Wiegel v. Stork Craft Mfg.,
Inc., 891 F.Supp.2d 941, 944 (N.D. Ill.
2012). Thus, the Court has “discretionary
authority” to reconsider the prior interlocutory order.
Galvan v. Norberg, 678 F.3d 581, 587 (7th Cir.
the Seventh Circuit has long cautioned that appropriate
issues for reconsideration “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). Motions to reconsider are not a proper
vehicle for “rehashing previously rejected arguments or
arguing matters that could have been heard during the
pendency of the previous motion.” Caisse Nationale
de Credit Agricole v. CBI Indus., Inc., 90 F.3d 1264,
1270 (7th Cir. 1996). Instead, motions for reconsideration
under Rule 54(b) “serve the limited function of
correcting manifest errors of law or fact or to presenting
newly discovered evidence.” Patrick v. City of
Chicago, 103 F.Supp.3d 907, 911-12 (N.D. Ill. 2015). A
manifest error of law or fact occurs “when there has
been a significant change in the law or facts since the
parties presented the issue to the court, when the court
misunderstands a party's arguments, or when the court
overreaches by deciding an issue not properly before
it.” United States v. Ligas, 549 F.3d 497,
501-02 (7th Cir. 2008) (citing Bank of Waunakee v.
Rochester Cheese Sales, Inc., 906 F.2d 1185, 1191 (7th
Cir. 1990)). “To be within a mile of being granted, a
motion for reconsideration has to give the tribunal to which
it is addressed a reason for changing its mind.”
Ahmed v. Ashcroft, 388 F.3d 247, 249 (7th Cir.
2004). A party seeking reconsideration “bears a heavy
burden, ” Patrick, 103 F.Supp.3d at 912, and
the decision whether to grant a motion to reconsider
“is a matter squarely within the Court's
discretion.” Darvosh v. Lewis, No. 13 C 4727,
2015 WL 5445411, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 11, 2015) (citing
Caisse Nationale, 90 F.3d at 1270).
argues that, in its March 6, 2017 Opinion, the court
conflated two of its arguments for summary judgment as to the
Chattanooga Site claims-(1) that 735 ILCS 5/13-217, an
Illinois statute requiring that a party re-file claims that
it voluntary dismissed “within one year or within the
remaining period of limitation, whichever is greater, ”
bars Velsicol's claims, and (2) that the parties'
Tolling Agreement also independently bars Velsicol's
claims. Westchester does not contest the court's finding
that there were genuine issues of material fact as to the
date the statute of limitations began under Illinois
statutory law. Instead, it claims that by conflating its two
waiver arguments, the court failed to adequately consider its
Tolling Agreement argument and thus, failed to recognize that
it is undisputed that the Tolling Agreement provides for a
one-year re-filing deadline of January 15, 2009, which
Velsicol failed to meet.
arguments, made nine months after the court issued its
Opinion, are unpersuasive. Westchester has not identified any
newly discovered evidence or changes in applicable law.
Instead, Westchester argues that the court failed to consider
or correctly interpret the Tolling Agreement. Contrary to
Westchester's argument, the court explicitly considered
the Tolling Agreement in its Opinion and found that there
were genuine issues of material fact as to its applicability.
As Velsicol noted in its Response to Westchester's motion
for reconsideration, those disputed issues include,
critically, whether the Tolling Agreement, taken as a whole,
was intended to serve as a deadline on the timing of future
claims or an extension of the statute of limitations, whether
the Tolling Agreement constituted a waiver of claims filed
after its re-filing deadline, and whether the Tolling
Agreement altered the re-filing requirements of Illinois
statutory law. Given these issues, Westchester has failed to
meet its “heavy burden” of establishing that the
court's prior ruling that there were disputed issues as
to the applicability of the Tolling Agreement was incorrect
or that the court misunderstood the parties' arguments.
Patrick, 103 F.Supp.3d at ...