United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
CHERYL BALL, individually and on behalf of the ESTATE OF JAMES MICHAEL BALL, Plaintiff,
USAA LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.
C. NORTON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the court on defendant USAA Life Insurance
Company's ("USAA") motion for reconsideration
of the court's May 16, 2016 order granting in part and
denying in part plaintiff Cheryl Ball's ("plaintiff)
motion to compel. ECF No. 29. For the reasons set forth
below, the court grants USAA's motion.
alleges that her husband, James Michael Ball
("Ball"), served in the Army for 27 years prior to
retiring from active duty. Compl. ¶ 4. Ball applied for
life insurance with USAA on April 17, 2012 and obtained two
life insurance policies on May 20, 2012. Id., ¶ 5. On
December 13, 2013, Ball was killed in a hit and run motor
vehicle accident, and the cause of death was listed as blunt
force injuries to the head after being ejected from a
motorcycle. Id., ¶ 6. After Ball's death, plaintiff
submitted a claim for life insurance benefits. Id., ¶ 7.
Plaintiff alleges that USAA denied her claim on November 24,
2014. Id., The plaintiff filed her complaint on October 27,
2015 in the Court of Common Pleas for Dorchester County,
bringing the following causes of action: (1) breach of
contract; (2) insurance bad faith; and (3) attorney's
fees pursuant to South Carolina Code § 38-59-40. USAA
filed a notice of removal on January 7, 2016.
February 19, 2016, plaintiff filed a motion to compel USAA to
submit full and complete responses to various interrogatories
and requests for production. ECF No. 10. The instant motion
concerns plaintiff's Request for Production 9, which
Clear, legible copies of USAA Life Insurance Company's
advertising and promotional materials regarding life
insurance coverage which were used in the calendar years 2009
ECF No. 10-1 at 3. USAA argued that such materials were
irrelevant because they had no bearing on plaintiff's
entitlement to life insurance benefits or the reasonableness
of USAA's decision to deny those benefits. ECF No. 13 at
5. On May 16, 2016, the court issued an order granting
plaintiff's motion to compel with respect to Request for
Production 9. ECF No. 24 at 10-11. The court determined that
Request for Production 9 was “relevant to the  bad
faith claim and does not appear unduly burdensome.”
Id. at 11. However, the court limited its holding to
advertising and promotional materials used in South Carolina
from 2009 until 2012 (the “Marketing Materials”),
explaining that because Ball purchased his life insurance
policies in 2012, “advertising materials [used] after
2012 have no relevance in this case.” Id.
13, 2016, USAA filed the instant motion to reconsider the
court's May 16, 2016 order pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 54(b). ECF No. 29.
filed a response on June 30, 2016. ECF No. 35. The motion is
now ripe for the court's review.
Pursuant to Rule 54(b),
any order or other decision, however designated, that
adjudicates fewer than all the claims or the rights and
liabilities of fewer than all the parties does not end the
action as to any of the claims or parties and may be revised
at any time before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all
the claims and all the parties' rights and
the precise standard governing motions to reconsider an
interlocutory order is unclear, the Fourth Circuit has stated
that Rule 54(b) motions are ‘not subject to the strict
standards applicable to motions for reconsideration of a
final judgment.'” Regan v. City of Charleston,
S.C., 40 F.Supp.3d 698, 701 (D.S.C. 2014) (quoting
Am. Canoe Ass'n v. Murphy Farms, Inc., 326 F.3d
505, 514 (4th Cir. 2003)). Nevertheless, “the [c]ourt
should grant a Rule 54 motion only under narrow
circumstances.” In re MI Windows & Doors, Inc.
Prod. Liab. Litig., No. 2:12-cv-01258-DCN, 2012 WL
5471862, at *2 (D.S.C. Nov. 9, 2012) (quoting Bailey v.
Polk Cty., N.C. , 2012 WL 122565, at *2 (W.D. N.C. Jan.
17, 2012)). Courts in this circuit have looked to the
standards governing Rule 59(e) for guidance.
Broadvox-CLEC, LLC v. AT & T Corp., 98 F.Supp.3d
839, 850 (D. Md. 2015); Regan, 40 F.Supp.3d at 702.
“Therefore, reconsideration under Rule 54 is
appropriate on the following grounds: (1) to follow an
intervening change in controlling law; (2) on account of new
evidence; or (3) to correct a clear error of law or prevent
manifest injustice.” Ashmore v. Williams, No.
8:15-cv-03633, 2017 WL 24255, at *2 (D.S.C. Jan. 3, 2017).