United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division
AUDREY RAYFORD, ET AL.
KARL STORZ ENDOSCOPY-AMERICA, INC., ET AL.
L. HAYES, Judge
A. DOUGHTY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion to Vacate Summary
Judgment and/or Motion for Relief from Judgment under Rule
60(b). [Doc. No. 68].
Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 63] was filed by
Defendants KARL STORZ Endoscopy-America, Inc., and KARL STORZ
Endovision, Inc. (“Defendants”) on March 7, 2018.
A Notice of Motion Setting [Doc. No. 64] was sent out on
March 8, 2018, giving any party who opposed the motion
twenty-one (21) days from the date of the Notice to file a
memorandum in opposition.
party filed an opposition. The Court filed a Ruling [Doc. No.
66] and Judgment [Doc. No. 67] granting the Motion for
Summary Judgment on April 3, 2018.
April 12, 2018, more than a week after the Summary Judgment
was filed, the Plaintiffs filed the pending Motion, [Doc. No.
68] in which they move the Court to vacate the Summary
Judgment and/or grant them relief from judgment under Rule
60(b). The basis for their motion is the failure of their
attorney to timely file an opposition to the Motion for
Summary Judgment, which was allegedly due to the failure of
the attorney's paralegal to calendar the Notice of Motion
Setting and the deadlines set forth therein. For the
following reasons, the Motion to Vacate Summary Judgment
and/or Motion for Relief from Judgment under Rule 60(b) is
to Fed. R.Civ.P. 60(B), the Court may relieve a party from a
final judgment, order, or proceeding for, among other
reasons, excusable neglect. “Motions under Rule 60(b)
are directed to the sound discretion of the district court,
and [a district court's] denial of relief upon such
motion will be set aside on appeal only for abuse of that
discretion.” Seven Elves, Inc., v. Eskenazi,
635 F.2d 396, 402 (5th Cir. 1981).
Fifth Circuit denied relief under Rule 60(b) in circumstances
where the movant had failed to respond to a motion for
summary judgment due to its attorneys neglect in Smith v.
Alumax Extrusions, Inc., 868 F.2d 1469 (5th
Cir. 1989), stating “Finally, we note that the district
court entered its summary judgment order in favor of Alumax
and the union, not as a default judgment, but on the merits
of the dispute between the parties. Traditionally, Rule 60(b)
has been applied most liberally to judgments in default since
the litigant in such cases has not had an opportunity to
adequately present the merits of his case to the district
court. Seven Elves, Inc., 635 F.2d. at 403. By
contrast, the district court in the instant case ruled on the
merits of the summary judgment motions only after considering
various evidentiary exhibits, albeit exhibits presented by
Alumax and the union, such as excerpts from Smith's
deposition, portions of the transcript of the arbitration
proceeding, and the written decision of the arbitrator. In
sum, on the facts of the instant case, we cannot say that the
district court abused its discretion in refusing to find that
Smith's failure to respond to the summary judgment
motions of Alumax and the unions constituted excusable
neglect within the context of Rule l60(b).” at p. 1472.
in the instant case, a summary judgment was rendered, and not
a default judgment. The record contained the merits of the
Plaintiffs' case, which was presented in their various
pleadings, including their Opposition [Doc. No. 16] to an
earlier Motion to Dismiss. The Court had the benefit of the
entire record and carefully considered it to determine
whether the Defendants met their burden of showing there was
no genuine issue of material fact, even in the absence of an
opposition from the Plaintiffs. [Doc. No. 66, p. 4].
attorney's failure to monitor the court's electronic
docket is not enough to constitute excusable neglect. See
Santos-Santos v. Torres-Centeno, 842 F.3d. 163, 169
(1st Cir. 2016)
mere fact that an attorney is busy with other matters does
not excuse a neglect on his part for the purposes of Rule
60(b); “a mere palpable mistake by counsel” or by
counsel's staff does not constitute excusable neglect
under Rule 60(b). See McDermott v. Lehman, 594
F.Supp. 1315, 1318 (U.S.D.C. Maine 1984).
attorney is responsible for his or her staff. In the
Court's opinion, the failure of the paralegal to calendar
a date to respond to a motion for summary judgment (a task
which was evidently delegated to her by the attorney) is not
“excusable neglect” for purposes of Rule 60(b).
reasons set forth, Plaintiffs' Motion to Vacate Summary
Judgment and/or Motion for Relief from Judgment ...