Looks like your problem is local mode:

For some reason, someone decided not to do retries when running in local mode. Not exactly sure why, feel free to submit a JIRA on this.

On Mon, Jun 9, 2014 at 8:59 AM, Peng Cheng <pc175@uow.edu.au> wrote:
I speculate that Spark will only retry on exceptions that are registered with
TaskSetScheduler, so a definitely-will-fail task will fail quickly without
taking more resources. However I haven't found any documentation or web page
on it

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