United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
ORDER AND OPINION
RICHARD MARK GERGEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Prince George Parish
of Prince George Winyah's Motion to Reconsider (Dkt. No.
17). For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies the
case is a coverage dispute regarding litigation arising out
of a 2012 schism in the Historic Diocese, originally known as
the "Protestant Episcopal Church in the State of South
Carolina," in which certain members and parishes sought
to dissociate from The Episcopal Church ("TEC"), a
nationwide hierarchical church. As alleged, Defendant
GuideOne Mutual Insurance Company ("GuideOne") is
an insurance company that insures Plaintiff Prince George
Parish of Prince George Winyah ("Prince George").
(Dkt. No. 1 at ¶ 9) The insurance policy at issue,
Policy Number 001295928, provided coverage for Personal and
Advertising Injury (the "Policy"). (Id.)
November 26, 2019, the Court granted Defendants' motion
to dismiss for failure to state a claim, holding that the
Policy does not cover the claims in the Underlying Action as
no damages were sought against Prince George under the
definitions in the Policy and therefore there was no
possibility of coverage and no duty to defend. (Dkt No. 15.)
Plaintiff now seeks the Court to reconsider that order,
arguing that the Court improperly focused on the prayer for
relief in the underlying complaints and incorrectly
determined that the underlying complaints did not seek
damages. (Dkt. No. 17.)
59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs motions
to alter or amend a judgment; however, the rule does not
provide a legal standard for such motions. The Fourth Circuit
has articulated "three grounds for amending an earlier
judgment: (1) to accommodate an intervening change in
controlling law; (2) to account for new evidence not
available at trial; or (3) to correct a clear error of law or
prevent manifest injustice." Pac. Ins. Co. v. Am.
Nat'l Fire Ins. Co., 148 F.3d 396, 403 (4th Cir.
1998) citing EEOC v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 116 F.3d
110, 112 (4th Cir. 1997); Hutchinson v. Staton, 994
F.2d 1076, 1081 (4th Cir. 1993). "Rule 59(e) motions may
not be used, however, to raise arguments which could have
been raised prior to the issuance of the judgment, nor may
they be used to argue a case under a novel legal theory that
the party had the ability to address in the first
instance." Pac. Ins. Co., 148 F.3d at 403
(citations omitted). Rule 59(e) provides an
"extraordinary remedy that should be used
sparingly." Id. (citation omitted). The
decision to alter or amend a judgment is reviewed for an
abuse of discretion. Id. at 402.
has not identified any change in controlling law or any new
evidence not previously available. Instead, Plaintiff
seemingly argues that the Court's ruling was in clear
error based on arguments already considered and rejected by
the Court. However, "[a] Rule 59(e) motion should not be
used as an opportunity to rehash issues already ruled upon
because a litigant is displeased with the result."
Cooper v. Spartanburg Sch. Dist. Seven, No.
7:13-CV-00991-JMC, 2016 WL 7474380, at *2 (D.S.C. Dec. 29,
2016), aff'dsub nom. Cooper v. Spartanburg Cty. Sch.
Dist. No. 7, 693 Fed.Appx. 218 (4th Cir. 2017)
Plaintiffs arguments do not affect the Court's ruling.
Plaintiff again focuses on the fact that TEC and The
Episcopal Church in South Carolina ("TECSC"), in
the underlying complaint, allege that charitable donations
were misdirected and that false advertising
"damaged" TEC and TECSC. (Dkt. No. 17 at 3.)
However, to make out a claim for false advertising a
plaintiff must demonstrate that the plaintiff "has been
or is likely to be injured" by the false advertisement,
Scotts Co. v. United Indus. Corp., 315 F .3d 264,
272 (4th Cir. 2002), and entitlement to an injunction
requires a showing of irreparable harm. The underlying
complaints, however, never sought any "tort
damages," as required for coverage under the Policy, and
instead was tailored to seek only equitable relief. Indeed,
as acknowledged by Plaintiff, the underlying case only
addressed declaratory and injunctive relief, and to hold
otherwise here would write the word "damages" and
"tort damages" out of the Policy at issue.
Plaintiffs newly cited cases, none of which address the duty
to defend or an insurance claim, do not affect this analysis.
reasons above, Defendant's motion for reconsideration
(Dkt. No. 17) is DENIED.