United States District Court, D. Maine
ORDER ON MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION AND TO ALTER
A. WOODCOCK, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
post-judgment motion of the class action plaintiffs and
without objection from the defendant, the Court amends its
judgment to stay, rather dismiss this class action lawsuit,
because plaintiffs' counsel alerted the Court that there
may be some potential statute of limitations issues if the
matter were dismissed.
August 29, 2017, the Plaintiffs initiated a class action
lawsuit against InterCoast Colleges (InterCoast). Class
Action Compl. (ECF No. 1). On November 7, 2017,
InterCoast moved to compel arbitration and to dismiss the
lawsuit. Def.'s Mot. to Compel Arbitration and
Dismiss the Case (ECF No. 7). On December 6, 2017, the
Plaintiffs moved to stay all proceedings and to extend time
within which to respond to InterCoast's motion to compel
arbitration. Pls.' Mot. to Stay Proceedings and for
Extension of Time to File Opp'n to Mot. to Compel
Arbitration (ECF No. 14). The Court delayed considering
the motion until August 27, 2018, at which time the Court
denied the Plaintiffs' motion to stay but granted
Plaintiffs' motion to extend time to respond to
InterCoast's motion to compel arbitration. Order on
Mot. to Stay and Mot. to Extend Time to Respond to Def.'s
Mot. to Compel Arbitration (ECF No. 19). On February 28,
2019, the Court granted InterCoast's motion to compel
arbitration. Order on Mot. to Compel and Dismiss
(ECF No. 36).
March 14, 2019, the Plaintiffs filed a motion for
reconsideration and requested the Court to alter its
judgment. Mot. for. Recons. and to Alter J. (ECF No.
38) (Pls.' Mot.). On April 4, 2019, InterCoast
responded and stated it “does not object to the
issuance of an order altering the Court's judgment”
to stay the case pending arbitration, rather than dismiss it
without prejudice. Def.'s Resp. to Pls.' Mot. for
Recons. and to Alter J. (ECF No. 43).
“enjoys ‘considerable' discretion” when
ruling on a Rule 59(e) motion. Carrero-Ojeda v.
Autoridad De Energía Eléctrica, 755
F.3d 711, 723 (1st Cir. 2014) (citation omitted). Local Rule
A motion to reconsider an interlocutory order of the Court,
meaning a motion other than one governed by Fed.R.Civ.P. 59
or 60, shall demonstrate that the order was based on a
manifest error of fact or law and shall be filed within 14
days from the date of the order unless the party seeking a
reconsideration shows cause for not filing within that time.
D. Me. Loc. R. 7(f). The Plaintiffs state that “the
parties did not brief the issue of limitations and the Court
did not ask for argument on this issue, there is a real
danger that some of Plaintiffs' claims-and claims of the
putative class members- would be subject to dismissal in
arbitration due to expired statutes of limitations.”
Pls.' Mot. at 2. Specifically, the Plaintiffs
Count II of the complaint-brought by Plaintiffs Kourembanas,
Jean Baptiste, and Mande-alleges that Defendant violated the
Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act, Mass. G.L. 93A, §
2, which has a four-year statute of limitations. See Mass.
G.L. 260 § 5A. Count III of the complaint-brought by
Plaintiff Valley-alleges that Defendant violated New
Hampshire unfair practices law, N.H. R.S.A. 358-A:2, which
has a three year statute of limitations. See N.H.R.S.A.
Id. at 3. In light of when the Plaintiffs enrolled
and attended InterCoast, they say there is chance as a result
of the Court's ruling granting InterCoast's motion to
compel arbitration and dismissing the action, they would be
prevented “from moving forward on their state consumer
protection claims under Massachusetts and New Hampshire law,
and likely would prejudice other class members even more
severely- especially those that enrolled at InterCoast prior
to March 2013, as these individuals also could lose claims
with 6-year limitations period.” Id. at 3-4.
As a result, they ask the Court to “reconsider its
Order, alter the judgment of dismissal without prejudice, and
order this action stayed pursuant to the FAA pending the
outcome of arbitration.” Id. at 5.
Baker v. Securitas Security Services USA, Inc., 432
F.Supp.2d 120, 127 (D. Me. 2006), the plaintiff's claims
against the defendant were arbitrable and the Court found
there were several advantages to dismissal. Yet, the Court
stayed the action in light of the parties' concern over
potential statute of limitations issues. Id. In
Bercovitch v. Baldwin School, Inc., 133 F.3d 141,
156 & n.21 (1st Cir. 1998), the Court of Appeals for the
First Circuit stated that district courts retain discretion
either to dismiss or to stay a case. Considering the issues
raised and the parties' positions, the Court concludes
staying the action is appropriate. See Venegas-Hernandez
v. Sonolux Records, 370 F.3d 183, 190 (1st Cir.
2004) (citation omitted) (Courts exercising their discretion
in deciding whether to grant or deny a Rule 59(e) motion
“requires a balancing of the need for finality of
judgments with the need to render a just decision”).
Court GRANTS Plaintiffs' Motion for Reconsideration and
to Alter Judgment (ECF No. 38). The Court ALTERS its Judgment
(ECF No. 37) and ORDERS this ...