United States District Court, D. Maryland
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
K. Bredar United States District Judge
pending before the Court is the Defendants' MOTION FOR
RELIEF FROM FULL JUDGMENT AMOUNT (ECF No. 24). The Plaintiff
has responded (ECF No. 25), and the Defendants have replied
(ECF No. 26).
case was closed nine months ago when the Court entered
judgment in favor of the Plaintiff in the total amount of
$66, 013.00. (ECF No. 23.) Now the Defendants have moved the
Court, pursuant to Rule 60(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure, asking that the amount of the Judgment be
reduced on “equitable” grounds. (Defs.' Mot.
for Relief.) Specifically, Rule 60(b)(6) authorizes the Court
to relieve a party from a final judgment for “any other
reason that justifies relief.” Relief in this
“catch all” category is exceedingly rare, see
In Re: Guidant Corp. Implantable Defibrilators Prod. Liab.
Litig., 496 F.3d 863, 868 (8th Cir. 2007), and rests on
a highly fact-intensive balancing of finality and doing
justice, see West v. Carpenter, 790 F.3d 693, 697
(6th Cir. 2015). Although relief under this provision is
extremely rare, there is some authority for the proposition
that the provision is applicable in circumstances where a
defaulted client seeks relief from judgment on the basis of
extremely gross negligence of, or abandonment by, counsel.
See Books v. Yates, 818 F.3d 532, 534 (9th Cir.
2016); but see Moje v. Federal Hockey League, LLC,
792 F.3d 756, 758 (7th Cir. 2015) (indicating an abandoned
client is still responsible for his own conduct).
Defendants have submitted an Affidavit in support of their
request for relief. (ECF No. 24-3.) The Plaintiff has
submitted a Declaration as well. (Garcia Decl., ECF No.
25-2.) After careful review of the entire record in this case
and with specific attention to the respective Affidavit and
Declaration, the Court cannot conclude that equity requires
the vacation or amendment of the order entering judgment. The
Court is persuaded that the Defendants were given ample
opportunity to address the merits of this litigation before
default was entered against them. Language barriers and other
communication difficulties may have caused some confusion on
the defense side, but the Court is satisfied, particularly
after carefully reviewing Mr. Garcia's Declaration, that
the Defendants were well aware of the risks associated with
not responding to the lawsuit. Further, the Defendants were
aware that the lawyer who had been advising them, although
she filed one motion in the case, was not actively
representing their interests in the litigation. The
Defendants did not act when they should have. If they were
neglected or abandoned by their attorney (which the Court
expressly does not so find at this time), they had ample
notice of that circumstance well before default ever entered,
and within time to react appropriately. The Defendants
ignored or turned a blind eye to a deteriorating situation.
This circumstance leaves them with less than the clean hands
they must have when seeking equitable relief, and any request
for relief under Rule 60(b)(6) is just that: a request for
finality is an important interest here. This case was
resolved many months ago through entry of the judgment.
Plaintiff has moved on, engaging a collections firm and
seeking assets. (Garcia Decl. ¶ 26.) Apparently, upon
the discovery of an asset that might satisfy the judgment,
the Plaintiff finally got the Defendants' attention and
motivated them to join the litigation. (Pl.'s Opp. to
Mot. for Relief 2, 6; see also Yanez Aff. ¶ 8.)