United States District Court, D. Colorado
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO ALTER OR
CHRISTINE M. ARGUELLO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Michael Bethel's
Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment. (Doc. # 104.) Defendant
Berkshire Hathaway Homestate Insurance Company filed a
Response (Doc. # 107) on March 15, 2019, and Plaintiff filed
a Reply (Doc. # 108) on March 29, 2019. Based on the
following reasons, Plaintiff's Motion is denied.
Court detailed the factual background of this case in its
Order Granting Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment
and Denying Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary
Judgment. (Doc. # 101.) The Court's previous Order is
incorporated by reference, and the details explained therein
need not be repeated here. The Court recounts only the facts
necessary to address Plaintiff's Motion to Alter
case involves an insurance dispute arising from a fire that
occurred in December 2016 at a property that Plaintiff owned.
The property (“Covered Property”) was insured by
Defendant, and the policy (“Policy”) was in
effect at the time of the fire. Defendant investigated the
incident and determined the fire was accidental and that the
Covered Property suffered a total loss that was covered by
the Policy. (Id. at 1-2.)
had purchased the Covered Property for $100, 000 in May 2016.
Based on a certified appraisal, Defendant calculated that the
value of the Covered Property at the time of the December
2016 fire-seven months after Plaintiff had purchased it-was
$109, 000. Plaintiff asserts that, based on the terms of the
Policy, he is entitled to the policy limit of $407, 000
rather than the Covered Property's market value of $109,
000. (Id. at 2-3.)
parties filed cross Motions for Summary Judgment (Doc. ## 55,
63), and on January 28, 2019, the Court entered an Order
Granting Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and
Denying Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment
(Doc. # 101). After interpreting the language of the Policy,
the Court rejected Plaintiff's argument that
Defendant's evaluation of the Covered Property's
market value constituted a breach of Defendant's
contractual duties. Specifically, the Court found that
“evaluating the Covered Property's market value was
consistent with Defendant's obligation to determine the
property's [Actual Cash Value].” (Doc. # 101 at
13.) Accordingly, the Clerk of the Court entered Final
Judgment in favor of Defendant and against Plaintiff. (Doc. #
subsequently filed the instant Motion in which he argues that
the Court should alter or amend its judgment pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e).
Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) gives federal courts the power
to alter or amend judgments under certain circumstances.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e). The Rule provides that no later than 28
days after the entry of a judgment, a party may file a motion
“to alter or amend” the judgment. Id.
“The ‘narrow aim' of Rule 59(e) is ‘to
make clear that the district court possesses the power to
rectify its own mistakes in the period immediately following
the entry of judgment.'” Greene v. Town of
Blooming Grove, 935 F.2d 507, 512 (2d. Cir. 1991)
(quoting White v. N.H. Dep't of Emp't Sec.,
455 U.S. 445, 451 (1982)). “The granting of a motion to
alter or amend is an extraordinary remedy which is used
sparingly in order to further the strong public policy
interest in finalizing litigation and conserving judicial
resources.” Sala v. United States, 251 F.R.D.
614, 619 (D. Colo. 2008) (quoting Torre v. Federated Mut.
Ins. Co., 906 F.Supp. 616, 619 (D. Kan. 1995)).
Accordingly, “[m]otions to alter or amend judgment are
regarded with disfavor.” Kerber v. Qwest Group Life
Ins. Plan, 727 F.Supp.2d 1076, 1077 (D. Colo. 2010)
(citing Mellon v. Cessna Aircraft Co., 64 F.Supp.2d
1061, 1063 (D. Kan. 1999)).
Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit recognizes three basic
grounds upon which a Rule 59(e) motion may be granted:
“(1) an intervening change in the controlling law, (2)
when new evidence previously was unavailable, and (3) the
need to correct clear error or prevent manifest
injustice.” Hayes Family Tr. v. State Farm Fire
& Cas. Co., 845 F.3d 997, 1004 (10th Cir. 2017)
(quoting Servants of the Paraclete v. Does, 204 F.3d
1005, 1012 (10th Cir. 2000)). A Rule 59(e) motion is not an
appropriate vehicle “to revisit issues already
addressed or advance arguments that could have been raised in
prior briefing.” Servants of the Paraclete,
204 F.3d at 1012 (citing Van Skiver v. United
States, 952 F.2d 1241, 1243 (10th Cir. 1991)). Rather,
relief under Rule 59(e) is appropriate only where “the
court has misapprehended the facts, a party's position,
or the controlling law.” Id.
advances three arguments in support of his Motion to Alter or
Amend Judgment pursuant to Rule 59(e). Specifically,
Plaintiff asserts that alteration or amendment is warranted
based on: “Surprise” (Doc. # 104 at 2); new
evidence (id. at 3); and the need to correct a clear
error in the Court's prior ruling (id. at 5).
The Court will address each argument in turn.