United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota as Administrator of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Pension Equity Plan; CentraCare Health System, on Behalf of Itself and the Sisters of the of Saint Benedict Retirement Plan; Supplemental Benefit Committee of the International Truck and Engine Corp. Retiree Supplemental Benefit Trust, as Administrator of the International Truck and Engine Corp. Retiree Supplemental Benefit Trust; Jerome Foundation; Meijer, Inc., as Administrator of the Meijer OMP Pension Plan and Meijer Hourly Pension Plan, Participants in the Meijer Master Pension Trust; Nebraska Methodist Health System, Inc., on Behalf of Itself, and as Administrator of the Nebraska Methodist Hospital Foundation, the Nebraska Methodist Health System Retirement Account Plan, and the Jennie Edmundson Memorial Hospital Employee Retirement Plan; North Memorial Health Care, on Behalf of Itself and as Administrator of the North Memorial Health Care Pension Plan; The Order of Saint Benedict, as the St. John's University Endowment and the St. John's Abbey Endowment; The Twin City Hospitals-Minnesota Nurses Association Pension Plan Pension Committee, as Administrator of the Twin City Hospitals-Minnesota Nurses Association Pension Plan; Administrative Committee of the Joint Hospitals Pension Board, as Administrator of the Twin City Hospitals Pension Plan for Licensed Practical Nurses; The Board of Trustees of the Tuckpointers Local 52 Pension Trust Fund, as administrator of the Tuckpointers Local 52 Pension Trust Fund, and the Board of Trustees of the Chicago Area Joint Welfare Committee for the Pointing, Cleaning and Caulking Industry Local 52, as administrator for the Chicago area Joint Welfare Committee for the Pointing, Cleaning and Caulking Industry Local 52; and The El Paso County Retirement Plan, Plaintiffs,
Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Defendant.
Katherine S. Barrett Wiik, Esq., Munir R. Meghjee, Esq., and
Thomas L. Hamlin, Esq., Robins Kaplan LLP, counsel for
H. Williams, Esq., and Manuel F. Cachan, Esq., Proskauer
Rose; Bradley R. Schneider, Esq., Erin J. Cox, Esq., and Fred
A. Rowley, Jr., Esq., Munger Tolles & Olson LLP; and
Daniel J. Millea, Esq., Elizabeth V. Kniffen, Esq., Lindsey
A. Davis, Esq., and Rory D. Zamansky, Esq., Zelle LLP;
counsel for Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
DONOVAN W. FRANK United States District Judge
accordance with Local Rule 7.1(j), Defendant Wells Fargo has
requested permission to file a motion for reconsideration of
the Court's March 14, 2017 Memorandum Opinion and Order
(Doc. No. 677). (Doc. No. 684.) Plaintiffs oppose this
request. (Doc. No. 685.)
Local Rule 7.1(j), a party must show “compelling
circumstances” to obtain permission to file a motion to
reconsider. D. Minn. L.R. 7.1(j). A motion to reconsider
should not be employed to relitigate old issues but to
“afford an opportunity for relief in extraordinary
circumstances.” Dale & Selby Superette &
Deli v. United States Dept. of Agric., 838 F.Supp. 1346,
1348 (D. Minn. 1993).
Court assumes the reader's familiarity with the
proceedings, which are summarized in the Court's March
14, 2017 order. As a short background, Plaintiffs filed a
number of claims against Wells Fargo for its handling of
certain investments during the Great Recession. Relevant
here, some Plaintiffs brought claims under ERISA for breach
of fiduciary duty (generally, the “ERISA
Plaintiffs”), and other Plaintiffs brought claims for
common-law breaches of fiduciary duty (generally, the
“Non-ERISA Plaintiffs”). While the sources of the
law for the duties were different, everyone agreed the duties
were the same.
Non-ERISA claims were submitted to the jury while the ERISA
claims were submitted to the Court as a bench trial. Before
the conclusion of the bench trial, the jury returned a
verdict finding that Wells Fargo had not breached its
fiduciary duty to the Non-ERISA Plaintiffs. Wells Fargo then
argued that the jury verdict was preclusive on the
Court's liability determination for the ERISA Plaintiffs.
The Court agreed, and the ERISA Plaintiffs appealed. The
Eighth Circuit remanded the case instructing the Court to
consider whether the parties waived the preclusive effect of
the jury verdict. On remand, the Court determined that
“given the totality of Defendant's conduct, the
Court concludes that Defendant waived the preclusive effect
of the jury verdict.” (Doc. No. 677 at 12.) Defendant
argues that the Court erred in reaching its conclusion.
Defendant argues that the Court erred in concluding that
Defendant's decision to submit some ERISA claims to the
jury evidenced Defendant's intent that the jury verdict
would not be binding. Prior to trial, the Court ordered that
Plaintiffs' ERISA fiduciary-duty claims would be
presented as a bench trial, while Plaintiffs' non-ERISA
fiduciary-duty claims would be submitted to the jury. (Doc.
No. 475.) The Court's order complicated the presentation
of evidence for two plaintiffs who had brought both ERISA and
non-ERISA fiduciary-duty claims. As a result, the parties
agreed to split the claims between judge and jury when the
ERISA and non-ERISA funds could be separated. But for North
Memorial, the ERISA and non-ERISA funds were inextricably
commingled. The parties, therefore, agreed to submit the
ERISA claims for North Memorial to the jury. In the March 14,
2017 order, the Court found that such an exercise was likely
immaterial if, as Defendant now argues, the jury's
decision would be dispositive. That is, if the jury's
decision regarding whether Wells Fargo had breached its
fiduciary duty would be dispositive for both ERISA and
Non-ERISA claims, why would Wells Fargo go through the
process of having the claims split for the two plaintiffs
with both ERISA and Non-ERISA claims? Why wouldn't Wells
Fargo have all of the claims for those two plaintiffs
submitted to the jury? The Court concluded that there
appeared to be no basis for such maneuvering if Wells Fargo
had expected the jury verdict to be preclusive on the issue.
issue had not been raised by the parties in their briefing on
remand, but was the result of the Court's review of the
record. In its letter seeking a motion to reconsider, Wells
Fargo argues that its decision was not indicative of waiver.
Because Wells Fargo did not have an opportunity to address
the issue, the Court will allow Wells Fargo to address it as
part of its motion to reconsider.
Defendant argues that the Court erred in its reliance on an
August 5, 2013 discussion regarding the parties' view on
the procedural effect of the jury verdict on the Non-ERISA
Plaintiffs' request for injunctive relief under the
Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Plaintiffs' position at
the time was that both liability and remedy were before the
Court and not the jury. In response to Plaintiffs'
position, Defendant's counsel stated that he did not
necessarily disagree. In its March 14, 2017 order, the Court
concluded that this conversation seemed to indicate that
Defendant did not view the jury verdict as preclusive.
argues that the Court erred because Minnesota law is critical
of waiver by silence, that Defendant's counsel did not
understand the question, and that the Court had moved on from
the discussion “without any waivers from
anybody.” (Doc. No. 589, Tr. at 5720.) Defendant did
not have the opportunity to address this argument in its
briefing because the conversation was identified by the Court
in its review of the record. As a result, the Court will
allow Wells Fargo to address it as part of its motion to
regard to the other issues Defendant has raised, the Court
concludes that reconsideration would merely serve to allow
the parties to relitigate old issues and, therefore,
Defendant's request to file a motion for reconsideration
as to those issues will be denied.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:
Defendant's request for leave to file a motion for
reconsideration (Doc. No. ) is GRANTED IN ...