A Rule 60(b)(1) motion to vacate a judgment in United States District Court is the topic of this blog post.
A Rule 60(b)(1) motion to vacate a judgment is filed on the grounds of mistake, inadvertence, surprise or excusable neglect.
I mainly work on cases within the jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals so the majority of the cases cited herein are from that circuit. Readers located in other circuits should research cases from their particular circuit.
Rule 60(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“Rule 60”) states in pertinent part that “(b) Grounds for Relief from a Final Judgment, Order, or Proceeding. On motion and just terms, the court may relieve a party or its legal representative from a final judgment, order, or proceeding for the following reasons: (1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect.” And Rule 60 also states that “(c) Timing and Effect of the Motion. (1) Timing. A motion under Rule 60(b) must be made within a reasonable time—and for reasons (1), (2), and (3) no more than a year after the entry of the judgment or order or the date of the proceeding.”
As with a motion to vacate a default judgment in California, it should be noted that Rule 60 does state that the motion must be made within a reasonable time. Anyone who finds out that a default judgment has been entered against them needs to act quickly if they want to increase the chances of having their motion granted as the law is settled in the Ninth Circuit and elsewhere that a district court has great discretion in deciding whether to grant a motion under Rule 60. It is subject to review only for abuse of discretion. They should also be sure to emphasize their defenses against the judgment as showing a meritorious defense is necessary.
The motion can be denied if it is shown that the moving defendant was culpable, and that conduct led to the default. Although the law is settled that Rule 60 is remedial in nature, and should be liberally construed so that cases can be tried on the merits.
In discussing Rule 60 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal has stated that this rule, like all the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, “is to be liberally construed to effectuate the general purpose of seeing that cases are tried on the merits.” Rodgers v. Watt, 722 F.2d 456, 459 (9th Cir. 1983) (internal citations omitted.)
See also Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 1, “The Federal Rules should be construed and administered to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding.”
To determine whether a party’s failure to meet a deadline constitutes “excusable neglect,” courts must apply a four factor equitable test, examining: (1) the danger of prejudice to the opposing party; (2) the length of the delay and its potential impact on the proceedings; (3) the reason for the delay; and (4) whether the movant acted in good faith. Pioneer Inv. Servs. Co. v. Brunswick Assocs. Ltd. P’ship, 507 U.S. 380, 395 (1993); Briones v. Riviera Hotel & Casino, 116 F.3d 379, 381 (9th Cir. 1997) (adopting this test for consideration of Rule 60(b) motions).
The United States Supreme Court has stated that the determination of what conduct constitutes “excusable neglect” under Rule 60(b)(1) and similar rules “is at bottom an equitable one, taking account of all relevant circumstances surrounding the party’s omission.” Pioneer Inv. Svcs. Co. v. Brunswick Assoc. Ltd., 507 U.S. 380, 395 (1993).
While a Rule 60 motion has a longer deadline than a California motion to vacate a default judgment it does differ in that showing a meritorious defense is required.
Attorneys or parties in civil litigation in United States District Court who wish to view a sample motion to vacate a default judgment under Rule 60(b)(1) containing brief instructions, a memorandum of points and authorities with citations to case law and statutory authority, sample declaration and proof of service by mail sold by the author can see below.
Attorneys or parties that would like more information on a Federal litigation document collection containing over 50 sample documents including a sample motion to vacate a judgment under Rule 60(b)(1) in United States District Court sold by the author can use the link shown below.
The author of this blog post, Stan Burman, is a freelance paralegal who has worked in California and Federal litigation since 1995 and has created over 300 sample legal documents for sale.
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Please note that the author of this blog post, Stan Burman is NOT an attorney and as such is unable to provide any specific legal advice. The author is NOT engaged in providing any legal, financial, or other professional services, and any information contained in this blog post is NOT intended to constitute legal advice.
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