288 F.3d 15 (1st Cir. 2002), 01-2127, Karak v. Bursaw Oil Corp.

Docket Nº:01-2127
Citation:288 F.3d 15
Party Name:Karak v. Bursaw Oil Corp.
Case Date:May 02, 2002
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
 
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288 F.3d 15 (1st Cir. 2002)

Elie N. KARAK et al., Plaintiffs, Appellants,

v.

BURSAW OIL CORP. et al., Defendants, Appellees.

No. 01-2127.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

May 2, 2002

Heard April 3, 2002.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Robert E. Weiner, with whom Jeffrey A. Gorlick was on brief, for appellants.

Raymond S. Ewer, with whom Tennant & Ewer, P.C. was on brief, for appellees.

Before SELYA, Circuit Judge, BOWNES and STAHL, Senior Circuit Judges.

SELYA, Circuit Judge.

The district court in this case entered a controversial (and arguably incorrect) judgment. See Karak v. Bursaw Oil Corp., 147 F.Supp.2d 9 (D.Mass.2001). The plaintiff eschewed an appeal. Later, he moved for relief from the judgment on grounds of newly discovered evidence, Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(2), and misrepresentation, Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(3). The district court denied the motion. Finding that ruling free from any abuse of discretion, we affirm.

I.

Background

The facts that give rise to the underlying litigation are chronicled in the district court's original opinion, see Karak, 147 F.Supp.2d at 10-11, and it would be pleonastic to repeat them here. For present purposes, it suffices to say that, at the times relevant hereto, defendant-appellee Bursaw Oil Corp. (a wholesaler and distributor of motor fuel and allied products), through a subsidiary, owned a prime service station in Newton, Massachusetts. Beginning in 1989, plaintiff-appellant Elie N. Karak leased this station and sold, inter alia, gasoline supplied by Bursaw. 1 The parties' relationship was bounded by several agreements, revised and renewed periodically, which covered both the lease of the real estate and the supply of motor fuel. The last lease renewal expired on June 30, 2000. Karak nonetheless remained on the premises as a tenant at will, and Bursaw continued to supply the station with motor fuel.

On or about February 20, 2001, Karak learned from Bursaw's general manager, Andrew Slifka, that Bursaw planned to sell the station to a third party. With that objective in mind, Bursaw served notice on March 28, 2001, directing Karak to vacate the premises within thirty days. Karak did not go quietly; as the thirty-day period wound down, he brought suit against Bursaw in the federal district court. His suit premised federal jurisdiction on the existence of a federal question, see 28 U.S.C. § 1331, charging Bursaw with having violated the Petroleum Marketing Practices Act (PMPA), 15 U.S.C. §§ 2801-2841.

Concerned about possession of the premises and his ability to keep his business afloat, Karak immediately moved for injunctive relief. The district court treated his motion as a motion for a temporary restraining order and denied it on April

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30, 2001. Two days later, Karak filed an amended complaint and a renewed request for preliminary injunctive relief. Bursaw responded by filing a motion to dismiss and an opposition to the prayer for injunctive relief. As part of its response, Bursaw attached affidavits subscribed by Slifka and Edward Davis (Bursaw's operations manager).

The district court held a hearing on May 10 in respect to Karak's motion for a preliminary injunction. The court then took the matter under advisement, directing the parties to supplement the record. Pursuant to this directive, Karak swore out and served an affidavit, and Bursaw filed four affidavits of company officials (including supplementary declarations from Slifka and Davis).

On May 30, 2001, the district court denied Karak's motion for injunctive relief and dismissed the action for want of federal subject matter jurisdiction. Karak, 147 F.Supp.2d at 15. The court's decision rested on two determinations: (1) that the idiosyncratic relationship between the parties did not fall within the scope of the PMPA, and (2) that it should not exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Karak's pendent state-law claims. Id. at 15-16.

Karak abjured an appeal. Instead, he filed a strikingly similar suit in a Massachusetts state court. That court too denied Karak's pleas for injunctive relief. Karak then abandoned his state court action and returned to the federal court. This time, he filed what he termed a "motion to reconsider" (in reality, a motion for relief from judgment). 2 The motion invoked Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(2)-(3) and incorporated affidavits from Karak's attorney, Richard P. Blaustein, and from a former Bursaw employee, Edward Yaeger. For eleven years, Yaeger had supervised the Karak-Bursaw relationship, and he had great familiarity both with that relationship and with Bursaw's corporate hierarchy. Yaeger claimed, inter alia, that Davis had misrepresented the structure of the company, and that both Davis and Slifka had distorted the nature of Bursaw's dealings with Karak. Karak asserted that this...

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