U.S. Tobacco Cooperative Inc. v. Big South Wholesale of Virginia, LLC, No. 17-2070 (4th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
The Fourth Circuit vacated the district court's order granting reconsideration, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b), of a predecessor district judge's order which had granted defendants' petition to substitute the United States as a party defendant under the Westfall Act. Judge Boyle had been assigned the case upon retirement of Judge Fox, and reconsidered his predecessor's order.
The court held that Judge Boyle did not properly exercise his discretion to overturn Judge Fox's decision based upon the "clear error causing manifest injustice" exception. First Judge Boyle did not conclude that Judge Fox's decision inflicted clear error causing manifest injustice at all. Second, even if the court were to assume that Judge Boyle implicitly concluded that Judge Fox's decision amounted to clear error causing manifest injustice, it was an abuse of discretion to grant plaintiffs' renewed motion to reconsider on that basis. In this case, the ATF churning memorandum that was offered by plaintiffs as new evidence in support of their renewed motion for reconsideration was not a sufficient basis upon which to affirm Judge Boyle's order.