United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
PHILLIS S. BYRGE, on behalf of the Estate of REDDIN BYRGE, Plaintiff,
PREMIUM COAL CO. INC., et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CLIFFORD SHIRLEY, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
case is before the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(c), Rule 73(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,
and the consent of the parties, for all further proceedings,
including entry of judgment [Doc. 16].
before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Alter or Amend
Judgment [Doc. 33]. Plaintiff has responded [Doc. 35] in
opposition to the Motion. The Motion is ripe for
adjudication. Accordingly, for the reasons set forth below,
the Court finds Defendants' Motion [Doc.
33] not well taken, and it is
discussed herein to the extent relevant to the Court's
analysis, the Court presumes familiarity with the facts of
this case as well as the analysis in the underlying opinion.
Relevant here, on March 31, 2017, the Court entered a
Memorandum Opinion [Doc. 31] granting Plaintiff's Motion
for Summary Judgment. A separate Judgment [Doc. 32] was also
entered. Specifically, the Court found that Plaintiff was
entitled to 20% additional compensation and interest on the
have now moved the Court, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 59(e), to alter or amend the March 31 Judgment in
POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES
argue that the plain language of the Longshore and Black Lung
Acts and the Department's regulations preclude a finding
that the penalty in 33 U.S.C. § 914(f) applies in this
case. Further, Defendants assert the prior black lung
precedent holds that the Longshore Act's procedures do
not supersede black lung regulations. Defendants continue
that the Court's analysis equating the Longshore Act and
the Black Lung program is not supported by fact or law.
responds [Doc. 35] that pursuant to 20 C.F.R. §
725.502(b)(2), the thirty-day grace period for payment only
applies to back benefits and that regardless, the thirty-day
period expired on April 4, 2013. Plaintiff submits that the
ALJ's 2013 decision is the relevant “compensation
order” and contained all the information that
Defendants needed to initiate monthly payments to Mr. Byrge.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
mentioned above, Defendants' Motion was filed pursuant to
Federal Rule Civil Procedure 59(e). Rule 59(e) provides,
“A motion to alter or to amend a judgment must be filed
no later than 28 days after the entry of the judgment.”
A court may grant a Rule 59(e) motion to alter or amend if
there is: (1) a clear error of law; (2) newly discovered
evidence; (3) an intervening change in controlling law; or
(4) a need to prevent manifest injustice. Intera Corp. v.
Henderson, 428 F.3d 605, 620 (6th Cir. 2005). A Rule
59(e) motion is not supposed to be “used to relitigate
old matters, or to raise arguments . . . that could have been
raised prior to the entry of judgment. Hanson v. Madison
Cnty Detention Ctr., No. 5:14-CV-99-REWS, 2017 WL
3022323, at *4 (E.D. Ky. July 17, 2017) (quoting Exxon
Shipping Co. v. Baker, 128 S.Ct. 2605, 2617 n.5 (2008)).
do not specifically explain the basis for their Rule 59(e),
but given the language in their Motion (i.e., the Court
reached a contrary interpretation; the Court has no sound
basis, and the Court's analysis is not supported by fact
or law), the Court will treat the Motion as if Defendants are
arguing that the Court committed clear error of law.
request that the Court reconsider as follows: (1) whether
Defendants' payments were in keeping with the regulatory
language setting the date the payments were due and were,
therefore, timely; (2) whether prior case law, including
Sixth Circuit precedent, requires this Court to follow
Department of Labor's black lung rules and not Longshore
rules in matters concerning the payment of benefits; (3)
whether the Court's decision properly accounts for the
fact that in black lung claims, but not in Longshore claims,
it is necessary to coordinate a transition from payments made
by the federal government in accordance with federal
disability benefit program rules used in Social Security Act
programs that are not designed to accommodate an immediate
switch over from federal payments to ...