Echols v. Auburn University et al
ORDER: it is ORDERED that the 40 Renewed Motion to Vacate and 41 Third Motion to Vacate are DENIED. Signed by Honorable Judge Gray M. Borden on 2/9/2018. (wcl, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
EDQUADO C. ECHOLS,
AUBURN UNIVERSITY, et al.,
CASE NO.: 3:17-cv-669-GMB
Before the court are the Renewed Motion to Vacate (Doc. 40) and Third Motion to
Vacate (Doc. 41) filed by Plaintiff Edquado C. Echols, which seek relief from a final
judgment entered by this court on January 24, 2018 as a result of Echols’ counsel’s
chronic failure to comply with court orders and deadlines. See Doc. 34.
previously filed a Motion to Vacate (Doc. 36), which the court set for a hearing on
February 8, 2018.
However, Echols’ attorney, Connie J. Morrow, again neglected her
responsibilities—this time, by failing to appear at yesterday’s hearing.
As a result, the
court issued an oral order denying the first motion to vacate the judgment.
Following the conclusion of the hearing, Echols filed his Renewed Motion to
The Renewed Motion is nearly a word-for-word copy of the first motion except
for the first few sentences of the opening paragraph, which blame Morrow’s absence
yesterday on an order that was issued on a “Federal Holiday of January 31, 2017.”
Order scheduling yesterday’s hearing was electronically transmitted to all counsel of
record on January 31, 2018, not January 31, 2017. See Doc. 38. Neither day was a federal
holiday. See http://www.almd.uscourts.gov/calendar (last visited Feb. 8, 2018). Even if
the order had been issued on a federal holiday, Morrow offers no explanation for why this
would prevent her from viewing the electronic notice sent to her email address or accessing
the court’s CM/ECF electronic filing system at any time between January 31 and
yesterday. Such a scant showing is no basis for concluding that Morrow’s extreme
neglect of this matter is excusable in a way recognized by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
Elsewhere, the motion takes inconsistent positions on the justification for
Morrow’s previous inattention to this case by claiming on the one hand that there were no
missed deadlines because she “timely briefed” the defendants’ motion to dismiss, and on
the other hand offering a litany of excuses for missing the same briefing deadline,
including the holiday season, family travel, the influenza season, the College Football
National Championship, and even Mardi Gras celebrations. See Doc. 40 at 1–5.
rate, the Renewed Motion does not carry Echols’ burden under Rule 60(b) for setting
aside the judgment. See, e.g., Peralta v. Peralta Food, Corp., 506 F. Supp. 2d 1274,
1284–85 (S.D. Fla. 2007) (finding inexcusable neglect where counsel “simply
disregarded the case for an extended period of time, resulting in multiple failures to
comply with Court orders”).
The same can be said for Echols’ Third Motion to Vacate (Doc. 41), which
Morrow inexplicably filed while the Renewed Motion remained pending.
Morrow maintains her half-baked “federal holiday” excuse and offers the additional
justification that she allowed her PACER login to lapse for inactivity, preventing her
from accessing the electronic docket for this case. Doc. 41 at 2.
Perhaps it goes without
saying that this does not give the court much comfort.
Morrow managed to
electronically file Echols’ first motion to vacate (Doc. 36) on January 24, so she is
familiar with the court’s CM/ECF system and has used it quite recently.
And even if
her electronic access did lapse, she—like any attorney appearing before this court—has a
responsibility to monitor the developments in her cases.
She may do so electronically,
may call the clerk’s office or even the undersigned’s chambers, or may elect to visit the
clerk’s office in person to review any case file.
Morrow did none of these things.
There is no evidence before the court excusing that neglect, and Morrow
squandered her opportunity to offer additional support for setting aside the judgment at
the scheduled hearing.
Accordingly, it is ORDERED that the Renewed Motion to Vacate (Doc. 40) and
Third Motion to Vacate (Doc. 41) are DENIED.
DONE on the 9th day of February, 2018.
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