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GIC Services, L.L.C. v. Freightplus USA, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

October 27, 2017

GIC SERVICES, L.L.C.
v.
FREIGHTPLUS USA, INC.

         SECTION I

          ORDER AND REASONS

          LANCE M. AFRICK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         After a years-long voyage through the federal courts, the Fifth Circuit “drop[ped] anchor at the same destination as the district court, ” and the case came to its end.[1] Notwithstanding, Industrial Maritime Carriers, LLC (“IMC”) invites[2]the Court to raise that anchor and amend the judgment in this matter pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b). For the following reasons, the Court declines to do so.

         I.

         As the Fifth Circuit aptly summarized: “This case is about a tugboat and its voyage across the Atlantic from Houston to Nigeria.”[3] After the tugboat arrived at an unexpected port in Nigeria, a storm of litigation ensued. GIC Services, L.L.C. (“GIC”) sued Freightplus USA, Inc. (“Freightplus”), which GIC had hired to arrange for the tugboat's transport to Nigeria. In turn, Freightplus sued IMC, which was also involved in the tugboat's transport.

         Another section of this Court eventually concluded that Freightplus was liable to GIC to the tune of $1, 811, 385.00 (plus prejudgment interest).[4] At the same time, that section concluded that IMC was liable to Freightplus to the tune of “30% of the $1, 811, 385.00” (plus 30% of the prejudgment interest).[5]

         This case then made its way to the Fifth Circuit. While the appeal was pending, GIC and Freightplus informed the Fifth Circuit that they had reached a settlement as to Freightplus's liability to GIC.[6] According to IMC, the settlement amount was $935, 000.00.[7] (The case was also reassigned to this section during this interim period.[8])

         The Fifth Circuit proceeded to affirm the judgment in all respects relevant to IMC's present motion. It upheld both the total amount of GIC's damages ($1, 811, 385.00), as well as the apportionment of those damages between Freightplus (70%) and IMC (30%).[9] Importantly, the Fifth Circuit stated IMC's obligation to Freightplus as “30 percent of the judgment in GIC's favor.”[10]

         After the Fifth Circuit issued its opinion, IMC petitioned for panel rehearing.[11] In its petition, IMC argued, in part, that “[i]n no event should IMC owe 30 percent of the $1.8 million judgment as this would represent an improper windfall to Freightplus.”[12] According to IMC's petition, “[i]f an indemnity theory applies” to Freightplus's claim against IMC, “IMC would owe to Freightplus 30 percent of what Freightplus actually paid”-namely, 30% of the settlement amount.[13] On the other hand, “[i]f contribution applies, IMC would owe to Freightplus any amount Freightplus paid over the 70 percent of the judgment it owed to GIC (if anything).”[14]

         The Fifth Circuit denied IMC's petition for rehearing.[15] IMC then filed the present Rule 60(b) motion, asserting the same arguments concerning indemnification and contribution that IMC asserted in its petition for rehearing.[16]

         II.

         Rule 60(b) provides that “[o]n motion and just terms, the court may relieve a party or its legal representative from a final judgment, order, or proceeding” for listed reasons. Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b). IMC argues two of the reasons warrant relief from the judgment that the Fifth Circuit affirmed on direct appeal. The first is Rule 60(b)(5): “the judgment has been satisfied, released, or discharged; it is based on an earlier judgment that has been reversed or vacated; or applying it prospectively is no longer equitable.”

         The second is Rule 60(b)(6): “any other reason that justifies relief.” However, relief under Rule 60(b)(6) is available “only if extraordinary circumstances are present.” Hesling v. CSX Trans., Inc., 396 F.3d 632, 642 (5th Cir. 2005) (quoting Am. Totalisator Co., Inc. v. Fair Grounds Corp., 3 F.3d 810, 815 (5th Cir. 1993)) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         The Court concludes that neither of these reasons is applicable in this case.[17]First, Rule 60(b)(5) is facially inapplicable. The relevant judgment-IMC's liability to Freightplus for 30% of $1, 811, 385.00-has not been “satisfied, released, or discharged, ” nor has any “earlier judgment” on which this judgment was based “been reversed or vacated.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(5). Further, Rule 60(b)(5)'s third and final clause-“applying [the judgment] prospectively is no longer equitable”- only “provides relief from a final judgment when it is no longer equitable that the judgment shall have prospective application . . . .” Bailey v. Ryan Stevedoring Co., Inc., 894 F.2d 157, 160 (5th Cir. 1990). The judgment contested in this instance, however, “has no prospective effect.” Id. (citing Cook v. Birmingham News, 618 F.2d 1149 (5th Cir. 1980)); cf. Agostini v. Felton, 521 U.S. 203 (1997) (applying Rule 60(b)(5) in the ...


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