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Legal Memorandum: Standards Governing a Motion for Reconsideration

Issue: What standards govern the granting of a motion for reconsideration?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Motion for reconsideration; Clear error of law; Prevent manifest injustice
Jurisdiction: Federal, Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: 779 F.2d 906; 959 F. Supp. 270; 661 F. Supp. 1063
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 07/01/2007

The motion for reconsideration is the appropriate vehicle to seek correction of a clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice.  Selaras v. M/V Cartagena De Indias, 959 F. Supp. 270 (E.D. Pa. 1997) (quoting Harsco Corp. v. Zlotnicki, 779 F.2d 906, 909 (3d Cir. 1985)).  Accord Bostic v. AT & T of the V.I., 312 F. Supp. 2d 731, 733 (D.V.I. 2004); Gutierrez v. Ashcroft, 289 F. Supp. 2d 555, 561 (D.N.J. 2003) (Rule 59(e) motion is to correct manifest error of law or fact, or to present newly discovered evidence), aff’d on other grounds by Gutierrez v. Gonzales, 125 F. App’x 406 (3d Cir. 2005).  A Rule 59 motion for reconsideration also may be granted “when ‘dispositive factual matters or controlling decisions of law were brought to the court’s attention, but not considered.'”  Gutierrez v. Ashcroft, 289 F. Supp. 2d at 561 (quoting Pelham v. United States, 661 F. Supp. 1063, 1065 (D.N.J. 1987)).

The trial court has discretion to deny a motion for reconsideration, but if its denial is based on interpretation and application of a legal precept, the decision will be subject to plenary review by the appellate court.  Skretvedt v. E.I. Dupont De Nemours, 372 F.3d 193, 202 (3d Cir. 2004); Fed. Kemper Ins. Co. v. Rauscher, 807 F.2d 345, 348-49 (3d Cir. 1986).  Rarely will the court’s decision to grant reconsideration constitute clear error.  Bostic, 312 F. Supp. 2d at 734, […]

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