Fraud is the basis for relief under both Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(3) and the savings clause of Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b). However, the type of fraud necessary to sustain an independent action attacking the finality of a judgment is narrower in scope than that which is sufficient for relief by timely motion. Fraud upon the court as distinguished from fraud on an adverse party is limited to fraud which seriously affects the integrity of the normal process of adjudication. The concept of fraud on the court embraces only that species of fraud which does or attempts to, defile the court itself, or is a fraud perpetrated by officers of the court so that the judicial machinery cannot perform in the usual manner its impartial task of adjudging cases.
Plaintiff Hadges sought to compel various racetracks and state agencies to permit him to pursue his career as a harness racehorse driver, trainer and owner. The Racing Board had suspended his license for six months after determining that Hadges had illegally passed wagering information to a member of the betting public at Roosevelt Raceway in 1986. Although the Racing Board had reissued Hadges's license,he was denied the right to work at its racetrack. After several cases being filed in court, Hadges requested the court to vacate an earlier judgment against him on the grounds of an alleged fraud on the trial court, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b). The trial court denied the relief, imposed Fed. R. Civ. P. 11 sanctions on plaintiff for misrepresentation, and censured his attorney for failing to make adequate inquiry as to the truth of his client's affidavits and for failing to inform the court of pending state court litigation.
Was the Plaintiff is to be entitled to the benefit under Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure? Was it proper to impose sanctions on him for misrepresentation?
The Court held that Plaintiff was properly denied relief where it was more than one year after the original judgment and there was no fraud upon the trial court. The court, however, reversed sanctions and censure imposed on plaintiff and his attorney, finding that plaintiff was not given the opportunity to withdraw the misstatement and that his lawyer could rely on plaintiff's objectively reasonable representations.