United States District Court, D. Delaware
LYNN E. TALLEY, D.O., Plaintiff,
CHRISTIANA CARE HEALTH SYSTEM; MATTHEW K. HOFFMAN, M.D.; and KENNETH L. SILVERSTEIN, M.D., Defendants.
CHRISTOPHER J. BURKE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
before the Court in this case is Plaintiff Lynne E. Talley,
D.O.'s ("Plaintiff) Motion for Reconsideration
("Motion"), filed pursuant to Rule 59(e) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, with regard to the
Court's February 19, 2019 Memorandum Opinion
("Memorandum Opinion") granting Defendants'
Christiana Care Health System, Matthew K. Hoffman, M.D.
("Hoffman") and Kenneth L. Silverstein, M.D.'s
"Defendants") Motion to Dismiss Counts III and IV
of the operative Second Amended Complaint ("motion to
dismiss"). (D.I. 106) Defendant Hoffman opposes the
Motion. (D.I. 109) For the reasons set forth
below, the Court DENIES Plaintiffs Motion.
BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
July 10, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Complaint against Defendants
in this Court. (D.I. 1) The parties subsequently consented to
the Court's jurisdiction to conduct all proceedings in
the case. (D.I. 11)
November 2, 2018, Plaintiff filed her Second Amended
Complaint ("SAC"), (D.I. 67), and on December 3,
2018, Defendants filed the motion to dismiss, (D.I. 70-71).
On February 19, 2019, the Court issued its Memorandum
Opinion, granting the motion to dismiss and ordering
dismissal of Counts III and IV (the "tortious
interference" claims) against Hoffman and Silverstein.
(D.I. 100) In the Memorandum Opinion, the Court found that
the tortious interference claims should be dismissed because
they ran afoul of the bootstrapping doctrine set forth in
Delaware law. (Id. at 10-12) In doing so, the Court
disagreed with Plaintiffs assertion that she had alleged that
Hoffman and Silverstein had violated an independent legal
duty (other than that sounding in breach of contract)
regarding these claims--i.e., that she had alleged that
Hoffman had made '"misrepresentations to the OB/GYN
Credentials [C]ommittee ["OB/GYN CC"] regarding
[Plaintiffs] privileges [.]'" (Id. at 10)
The Court ultimately found that: (1)the claims against
Silverstein should be dismissed because these alleged
misrepresentations had nothing to do with him; and (2) the
claims against Hoffman should be dismissed because nowhere in
the SAC did Plaintiff actually allege that Hoffman had ever
misrepresented any facts to the OB/GYN CC. (Id. at
11) Plaintiff thereafter filed the instant Motion on March 5,
2019, (D.I. 106), and the Motion was fully briefed as of
March 19, 2019, (D.I. 109).
purpose of a motion for reconsideration is to "correct
manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly-discovered
evidence." Max's Seafood Cafe ex rel. Lou-Ann,
Inc. v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999)
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Motions for
reconsideration are the functional equivalent to motions to
alter or amend judgments under Rule 59(e). Fed.R.Civ.P.
59(e); see also Dupree v. Corr. Med. Servs., Civ.
No. 10-351-LPS, 2015 WL 7194438, at *1 (D. Del. Nov. 16,
2015). The moving party has a high burden to meet in order to
demonstrate that a motion for reconsideration should be
granted. Folks v. Danberg, Civ. Action No.
09-103-GMS, 2012 WL 37228, at *1 (D. Del. Jan. 6, 2012). That
party must show that one of the following circumstances is at
play: (1) there has been an intervening change in the
controlling law; (2) new evidence is now available that was
not available when the court granted the motion at issue;
and/or (3) there is a need to correct a clear error of law or
fact or to prevent manifest injustice. Max's Seafood
Cafe, 176 F.3d at 677; Folks, 2012 WL 37228 at
*1. Although one of these circumstances may be implicated,
there is no need to grant a motion for reconsideration if,
even were the Court to consider the new information at issue,
doing so would not alter the court's initial decision.
Shahin v. PNC Bank, N.A., C.A. No. 13-1404-LPS, 2015
WL 167180, at *1 (D. Del. Jan. 13, 2015); Becton
Dickinson & Co. v. Tyco Healthcare Grp. LP, No.
Civ.A. 02-1694 GMS, 2006 WL 890995, at *2 (D. Del. Mar. 31,
2006). A motion for reconsideration may not be used to argue
that a court rethink a decision already made, nor may it be
used to argue new facts or issues that were inexcusably not
presented to the court in the matter previously decided.
Dupree, 2015 WL 7194438, at *2; Folks, 2012
WL 37228 at *1. However, reconsideration may be appropriate
where a 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." Dupree, 2015 WL
7194438, at *2 (internal quotation marks, citation and
brackets omitted); see also Folks, 2012 WL 37228 at
Plaintiff argues that, since the filing of the SAC and the
motion to dismiss, she has discovered new evidence that, had
it been available at the time of the Court's decision on
the motion to dismiss, would have altered the outcome of that
decision (i.e., the evidence would, were it referenced in the
SAC, have demonstrated that Count III and IV s tortious
interference claims were sufficiently pleaded against
Hoffman). (D.I. 106at¶3) Newly-discovered evidence is
"that a party could not earlier submit to the court
because that evidence was not previously available."
Blystone v. Horn, 664 F.3d 397, 415-16 (3d Cir.
2011). Here, Plaintiff claims that this "new"
evidence shows that Hoffman "modified the minutes from
the April 5, 2016 OB/GYN Credentials Committee meeting"
to: (a) change the OB/GYN CC's decision from one that
deferred recommendation on whether to renew Plaintiffs staff
privileges to one in which the OB/GYN CC was recommending
that Plaintiff receive a four-month conditional renewal of
her privileges; and (b) add a requirement that Plaintiff have
"no further 'at risk' events" during that
four-month period (a requirement that "was not approved
by" the OB/GYN CC). (D.I. 106 at ¶¶ 7-8;
see also D.I. 67 at ¶¶ 77-80) Plaintiff
asserts that this "misleading information" was then
presented to the Medical Dental Staff Credentials Committee
at a meeting on April 20, 2016, and was relied upon by that
committee and others thereafter in voting to renew Plaintiffs
privileges. (D.I. 106 at ¶ 8) Plaintiffs Motion fails for
at least three reasons.
First, the Motion fails because nowhere in it does Plaintiff
clearly and specifically identify what is the "new
evidence" at issue, nor does Plaintiff clearly and
specifically explain why it is that this evidence was not
available when the Court granted the motion to dismiss.
Second, even if the Court assumes that the new evidence that
Plaintiff is referring to is the draft meeting minutes from
the April 5, 2016 meeting of the OB/GYN CC, (id.
(Plaintiff referring to the fact that "[o]n April 6,
2016, an email was sent from Veronica Morgan to Dr. Hoffman,
attaching the draft of the meeting minutes for the April
5th meeting."); see also D.I. 109 at
¶ 23 (Defendant Hoffman assuming that "the
'new' evidence" that Plaintiff is referring to
is the "minutes of the April 5, 2016 OB/GYN Credentials
Committee meeting")), those minutes do not qualify as
newly-discovered evidence. Defendant Hoffman explains that
the minutes at issue were produced to Plaintiff on September
13, 2018, months before the filing of the SAC, (id.
at ¶ 25), and Plaintiff has not contested that
representation. And indeed, in another portion of her Motion,
Plaintiff seems to concede that she did have
possession of the information that she now calls
"new" evidence at the time of the Court's
decision on the motion to dismiss. (D.I. 106 at ¶ 9)
There, Plaintiff acknowledges that while she "had
information and belief of Defendant Hoffman's
misrepresentations" as of the time of the SAC's
filing, she did not put forward the argument she now makes in
her Motion because she "was not able to review all of
the documents and meta-data" that Defendants had
produced, and she "did not want to provide Defendants
with a specific road map as to her work-product strategy of
prosecuting the case prior to taking depositions."
(Id.); see also Brokenbrough v. Capitol Cleaners
& Launderers Inc., Civil Action No. 13-692-CJB, 2016 WL
125436, at *3 (D. Del. Jan. 8, 2016) (noting that "newly
presented 'facts' that were available at the time of
the original order, but were not then made of record
...cannot support the grant of a motion for
reconsideration") (citing Harsco Corp. v.
Zlotnicki, 779 F.2d 906, 909 (3d Cir. 1985)).
Third, these meeting minutes, even if they were considered,
would not have altered the outcome of the Court's
decision on the motion to dismiss. See Shahin, 2015
WL 167180, at *1. This is because no portion of Plaintiff s
Counts III and IV of the SAC-the tortious interference counts
at issue here-even make reference to (or hint at) the idea
that those claims were meant to relate to misrepresentations
that Hoffman made to the Medical Dental Credentials Committee
or to alterations in the OB/GYN's recommendations to that
committee. (D.I. 67 at ¶¶ 131 -77) The content of
Counts III and IV are all about facts, acts and wrongs
other than these above-referenced misrepresentations
of Hoffman. In other words, the evidence at issue could not
have helped Plaintiff, because it relates to claims she
simply was not making and had not pleaded in Counts III and
the foregoing reasons, the Court ORDERS that ...