United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
NICLAS FOSTER, as Personal Representative of the Estate of MEIKE FOSTER, Plaintiff,
AMERICAN HONDA MOTOR COMPANY, INC., a foreign corporation, et al., Defendants.
ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION
RICARDO S. MARTINEZ, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on the Motion for
Reconsideration filed by Plaintiff under LCR 7(h). Dkt. #68.
Plaintiff seeks “clarification if not outright
correction” to the Court's recent Order Re:
Evidentiary Hearing Regarding Similar Incidents. Id.
at 1. This prior Order construed the parties' request for
a hearing and pre- and post- briefing as “early motions
in limine to address the admissibility of similar car fire
incidents involving the vehicle model in question in this
case, a 2014 Honda CR-V, and to address the admissibility of
testimony from survivors of similar car fires.” Dkt.
#66 at 1. Plaintiff now seeks reconsideration of the
Court's rulings as to the admissibility of similar car
fire incidents but not as to the admissibility of testimony
from survivors of similar car fires.
for reconsideration filed under LCR 7(h) are same day
motions. LCR 7(d)(1). “Motions noted under LCR 7(d)(1),
except motions for temporary restraining orders, shall not
exceed six pages.” LCR7(e)(1). “Motions for
reconsideration are disfavored.” LCR 7(h)(1).
“The court will ordinarily deny such motions in the
absence of a showing of manifest error in the prior ruling or
a showing of new facts or legal authority which could not
have been brought to its attention earlier with reasonable
initial matter, Plaintiff's Motion exceeds the applicable
page limit by six and a half pages. The Court would typically
only consider the first six pages of this filing. However,
because the issue before the Court is critical to the
upcoming trial the Court has considered the entire filing.
The Court will address each of Plaintiff's requests for
Court found that Arndt Incidents 1 through 4 occurred
substantially prior to the Foster Fire. Dkt. #66 at 2.
However, the Court ultimately concluded that only incidents 1
and 3 were “substantially similar, ” the
applicable standard for the evidentiary issue. Id.
at 3; Daniel v. Coleman Co. Inc., 599 F.3d 1045,
1048 (9th Cir. 2010). As stated in the Court's Order,
this was because these incidents (as well as incidents 5 and
8) “point to organic material trapped in roughly the
same area of the vehicle at issue in this case as a potential
source of fire.” Dkt. #66 at 3. The area at issue in
this case was around the exhaust system and secondary
catalytic converter. Despite the easier standard for
admissibility for incidents occurring substantially prior to
the Foster Fire, the Court agreed with Defendants'
analysis that “little is known about the causes of the
fire in incidents 2 and 4.” Id. The Court was
very clear in its Order that “Arendt Incidents 1, 3, 5,
and 8 are admissible for the reasons stated above, ”
but that “[t]he remaining incidents cited by Plaintiff
are excluded under FRE 403.” Id. at 4.
feigns confusion as to whether the Court meant to exclude
Incidents 2 and 4. See, e.g., Dkt. #68 at 2
(“If excluding incidents 2 and 4 was
intentional…”). What Plaintiff is really arguing
is that the Court was wrong in finding no substantial
similarity between these incidents and the Foster Fire.
See id. at 2 n.1. However, by the Plaintiff's
own telling, these incidents are similar in that they
involved the same model year, engine and exhaust
architecture, nature and location of fire, but that they did
not involve “direct evidence of organic material as
first fuel.” Id. The Court has already considered
all of this in its determination of substantial similarity.
The question of how and where the fire started is critical to
Plaintiff's claims and the question of substantial
similarity; in the Court's judgment these incidents
lacked enough information to satisfy the applicable test and
FRE 403. The level of analysis offered by the prior Order is
consistent with the Court's typical practice on motions
in limine. The Court finds no manifest error in its prior
argues “there is confusion as to the Court's
exclusion of incidents 6, 7, and 11, incidents which plainly
include evidence of organic debris as the initial source
fueling a fire, the same defect alleged here (including an
admission of same by Honda's own fire
investigator).” Id. at 2. The Court's
prior Order addressed those incidents: “[t]he Court
agrees with Defendants that… incidents 6, 7 and 11
have evidence of organic material being the source of the
fire, but this evidence is purely speculative.” Dkt.
#66 at 3. Again, Plaintiff feigns confusion as to whether
these incidents were intended to be excluded and argues that
the Court “should state the basis for the exclusion and
reconsider this decision too.” Dkt. #68 at 2. The Court
did state the basis for the exclusion-these incidents failed
the substantial similarity test due to the evidence of
organic material being “purely speculative” and
excluded these incidents under FRE 403. The Court reminds
Plaintiff that these incidents did not have any statements
from a witness saying that the fire was caused by organic
material in a similar area as the Foster fire, they had a
witness saying he was asked if the car was parked
near high grass “as there might have been a mouse nest,
” a witness reporting that a firefighter observed a lot
of leaves in the engine block and concluding that it
was a squirrel's nest, with a report mentioning
“light vegetation” as an ignition source, and a
witness smelling burning leaves while driving. In each of
these incidents a key element was lacking. To the extent that
the Court could have ruled otherwise, the Court reminds
Plaintiff that he carries the burden of establishing
substantial similarity, and that arguments made on a motion
for reconsideration that were not made in prior briefing or
at oral argument are not a proper basis for the Court to
reconsider its ruling unless such arguments could not have
been brought to its attention earlier with reasonable
diligence. LCR 7(h).
argues that Honda's failure to investigate these prior
incidents serves as evidence to support his claim of
negligence; such arguments are not properly raised for the
first time in this Motion. LCR 7(h). Plaintiff had three
opportunities to raise such arguments-pre-and post- briefing,
as well as at oral argument. Plaintiff's only prior
mention of such arguments, the introductory statement in his
pre-hearing brief that “the lack of investigation
proves negligence on the part of Honda, ” is
insufficient to shoehorn in Plaintiff's copious briefing
on the subject now.
Court finds no other basis to reconsider its prior Order.
Having reviewed the relevant briefing and the remainder of
the record, the Court hereby finds and ORDERS that
Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration (Dkt. #66) is
 Plaintiff goes on to complain that
such “evidence might have been found and documented had
Honda responded to Geico's notice and invitations to
inspect.” Dkt #66 at 2 n.1. This ...