Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b) provides that on motion and upon such terms as are just, the court may relieve a party or a party's legal representative from a final judgment, order, or proceeding for the following reasons: (1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect; (2) newly discovered evidence which by due diligence could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b); (3) fraud (whether heretofore denominated intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or other misconduct of an adverse party; (4) the judgment is void; (5) the judgment has been satisfied, released, or discharged, or a prior judgment upon which it is based has been reversed or otherwise vacated, or it is no longer equitable that the judgment should have prospective application; or (6) any other reason justifying relief from the operation of the judgment. The motion shall be made within a reasonable time, and for reasons (1), (2), and (3) not more than one year after the judgment, order, or proceeding was entered or taken.
Plaintiff client's case was dismissed for failure to prosecute after the court clerk erroneously entered the wrong attorney's name when docketing the case, which resulted in all mail connected with the case being misaddressed. When more than one year had passed, plaintiff's attorney visited the clerk's office and discovered the dismissal. One year and three days after the dismissal, plaintiff's attorney filed a motion under Fed. R. Civ. P. 60 to vacate the judgment. The district court denied relief. Plaintiff client appealed.
Did the district court abuse its discretion in denying plaintiff’s motion for relief from judgment after his case was dismissed for failure to prosecute?
On appeal, the court affirmed. Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(1) provided for relief from judgment based on mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect. It applied to errors by judicial officers as well as parties. In this case, dismissal resulted from an unusual combination of error by the clerk's office and neglect by the attorney. A motion brought pursuant to Rule 60(b)(1) was required to be made within one year of the date the judgment was entered. The one-year time limit was jurisdictional and could not be extended, and the court thus concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying relief.