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Cheney v. United States Life Insurance Company in City of New York

United States District Court, D. Arizona

March 25, 2019

Cynthia Cheney, Plaintiff,
v.
United States Life Insurance Company in the City of New York, a foreign insurance company; and American General Life Insurance Company, d/b/a AIG Benefit Solutions Connecticut Claim Center, a foreign business entity, Defendants.

          ORDER

          David G. Campbell Senior United States District Judge

         On January 30, 2019, the Court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants United States Life Insurance Company (“U.S. Life”) and American General Life Insurance Company, d/b/a AIG Benefit Solutions. Doc. 116. Plaintiff Cynthia Cheney has filed a motion for reconsideration with respect to U.S. Life only. Doc. 120. Oral argument will not aid in the Court's decision. For the following reasons, the Court will deny the motion.

         I. Reconsideration Standard.

         Motions for reconsideration are disfavored and should be granted only in rare circumstances. See Ross v. Arpaio, No. CV-05-4177-PHX-MHM, 2008 WL 1776502, at *2 (D. Ariz. Apr. 15, 2008). Motions for reconsideration are not the place for parties to make new arguments not raised in their original briefs and arguments. See Carroll v. Nakatani, 342 F.3d 934, 945 (9th Cir. 2003). Nor should such motions ask the Court to rethink what it has already considered. See United States v. Rezzonico, 32 F.Supp.2d 1112, 1116 (D. Ariz. 1998). Motions for reconsideration should be denied “absent a showing of manifest error or a showing of new facts or legal authority that could not have been brought to its attention earlier with reasonable diligence.” LRCiv 7.2(g)(1); see also United Nat'l Ins. Co. v. Spectrum Worldwide, Inc., 555 F.3d 772, 780 (9th Cir. 2009); Nakatani, 342 F.3d at 945.

         II. Plaintiff's Argument.

         Plaintiff argues that the Court based its ruling on an argument first raised in U.S. Life's reply, to which Plaintiff was unable to respond, and which “produced an incorrect result that contravenes controlling law.” Doc. 120 at 1. Although there are variations on Plaintiff's arguments throughout her motion, they generally boil down to three points.

         First, Plaintiff argues that U.S. Life's reply brief asserted for the first time that Plaintiff's disability should be judged on the basis of her “regular job” as it existed on the day before her claimed disability date of January 1, 2007. Id. at 7. Plaintiff argues that it was error for the Court to consider this late-breaking argument.

         Second, Plaintiff argues that consideration of this argument produced error because her disability should not have been evaluated on the basis of her claimed disability date. Rather, Plaintiff asserts that U.S. Life knew her disability claim was in fact based on her inability to work as a trial lawyer and that her last trial was in October 2005. Id. at 2. As a result, Plaintiff claims, it was “disingenuous” for U.S. Life to suggest that Plaintiff's claimed disability should be judged as of January 1, 2007. Id.

         Third, Plaintiff presents case law and arguments that were not included in her response to U.S. Life's motion for summary judgment. Id. at 11-17. The thrust of these arguments is that U.S. Life cannot rely on adjustments Plaintiff made in her professional work to accommodate her disability as defining her “regular job” for purposes of the disability analysis. Id. Plaintiff instead argues that her disability should have been assessed as of the end of her trial practice in late 2005, not on the basis of her adjusted work schedule in late 2006.

         None of these arguments satisfies the standard for a motion for reconsideration.

         A. Arguments Made In U.S. Life's Motion.

         The Court cannot accept the premise of Plaintiff's motion to reconsider - that U.S. Life waited until its reply brief to argue that Plaintiff's disability should be judged on the basis of her claimed disability date and the work she was doing before that date. Although much of U.S. Life's summary judgment motion was based on a legal argument the Court did not accept - that Plaintiff is disabled only if she has a “complete inability” to perform the material duties of her regular job - the motion clearly called attention to the requirements of the Policy on which the Court ultimately relied. See Doc. 116.

         In its opening statement, U.S. Life's motion argued that Plaintiff was not unable to perform her “regular job” - a defined term in the insurance policy (“Policy”). Doc. 92 at 1; see also Id. at 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 15 (all referring to Plaintiff's “regular job” in quotation marks). The motion correctly quoted the Policy's definition of “regular job” as “that which [she] was performing on the day before disability began.” Id. at 2. The motion also quoted the requirement that Plaintiff's “specialty in the practice of law” must be assessed “on the day before total disability began.” Id.

         Further, the motion plainly asserted that Plaintiff's date of disability was January 1, 2007. Id. at 5, 9. The motion acknowledged that Plaintiff had claimed various disability dates during the claims process, and even clarified that her last trial was in October 2005, but the motion claimed that Plaintiff “is not asserting ...


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