Chapman et al v. Ford Motor Company
ORDER denying #38 Motions for Hearing #40 and #44 and Motion for Extension of Time to Complete Discovery. Granting #15 Motion for Summary Judgment. Signed by Honorable Paul K. Holmes, III on July 19, 2011. (sh)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
DENISE K. CHAPMAN, Administratrix
of the Estate of Nathaniel Allen
Chapman, deceased, and JONATHAN
FORD MOTOR COMPANY
Currently before the Court are the Defendant’s Motion for
Summary Judgment (Doc. 15) and supporting documents, Plaintiffs’
Response (Doc. 21) and supporting documents, and Defendant’s Reply
(Doc. 36). For the reasons stated herein, Defendant’s Motion for
Summary Judgment is GRANTED. Furthermore, Plaintiffs’ Motions for
Hearing on Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment (Docs. 38 and
40), and Plaintiffs’ Motion for Extension of Time to Complete
Discovery (Doc. 44) are DENIED.
I. Background and Procedural History
The case upon which this action is based was originally filed
in 1997, and tried to a defense verdict. Plaintiffs appealed, and
the case was affirmed by the Supreme Court of Arkansas. See Chapman
v. Ford Motor Company, 368 Ark. 328 (2006).
On November 2, 2010, Plaintiffs filed this action in the
pursuant to Rules 60(c)(1) and (4) of the Arkansas Rules of Civil
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Procedure governing setting aside a judgment for misrepresentation
or fraud. According to the Plaintiffs, Defendant Ford Motor Company
committed fraud upon the court by “feloniously concealing and
Plaintiffs’ damages was driver error, “by deliberately misleading
the trial judge regarding the scientific reliability and legal
admissibility of certain government reports that Ford used to
support a defense that was knowingly fraudulent; and by presenting
the testimony of witnesses shown later in the attached deposition
to be false by the aforesaid feloniously concealed and despoiled
evidence.” See Doc. 3.
Defendant removed the action to this Court on November 17,
2010, and filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 15) on March
II. Summary Judgment Standard
In determining whether summary judgment is appropriate, the
burden is placed on the moving party to establish both the absence
of a genuine dispute of material fact and that it is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56; Matsushita
Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87, 106
S. Ct. 1348, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538 (1986); Nat’l Bank of Commerce of El
Dorado, Ark. v. Dow Chem. Co., 165 F.3d 602 (8th Cir. 1999). The
Court must review the facts in a light most favorable to the party
opposing a motion for summary judgment and give that party the
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benefit of any inferences that logically can be drawn from those
facts. Canada v. Union Elec. Co., 135 F.3d 1211, 1212-13 (8th Cir.
1998). In order for there to be a genuine issue of material fact,
the non-moving party must produce evidence “such that a reasonable
jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Allison v.
Flexway Trucking, Inc., 28 F.3d 64, 66 (8th Cir. 1994) (quoting
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S. Ct.
2505, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202 (1986)).
Arkansas Rule of Civil Procedure 60(c)(1) and (4) provides:
(c) Grounds for Setting Aside Judgment, Other Than
Default Judgment, After Ninety Days. The court in which
a judgment, other than a default judgment [which may be
set aside in accordance with Rule 55(c)] has been
rendered or order made shall have the power, after the
expiration of ninety (90) days of the filing of said
judgment with the clerk of the court, to vacate or modify
such judgment or order:
(1) By granting a new trial where the grounds
therefor were discovered after the expiration of ninety
(90) days after the filing of the judgment, or, where the
ground is newly discovered evidence which the moving
party could not have discovered in time to file a motion
under Rule 59(b), upon a motion for new trial filed with
the clerk of the court not later than one year after
discovery of the grounds or one year after the judgment
was filed with the clerk of the court, whichever is the
earlier; provided, notice of said motion has been served
within the time limitations for filing the motion.
(4) For misrepresentation or fraud (whether
heretofore denominated intrinsic or extrinsic) by an
The Court agrees with Defendant that Plaintiffs’ Complaint is
an independent action rather than one seeking relief pursuant to
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Arkansas Rule of Civil Procedure 60(c). Independent actions to set
aside judgments are governed by Rule 60(k). Rule 60(k) serves to
“not limit the power of a court to entertain an independent action
to relieve a party from a judgment who was not actually personally
served with process or to set aside a judgment or decree for fraud
upon the court.” Id. The Reporter’s Note to Rule 60(k) contains the
statement: “Arkansas has previously recognized the power of an
equity court to review a judgment from a court of law, although
such power is severely limited. Cotten v. Hamblin, 233 Ark. 65
(1961)”. The Cotten case states that “a chancery court has limited
power to set aside the judgment of a law court, but it must be
shown that there is no adequate remedy at law.” Id.; See also Pryor
v. Raper, 46 Ark. App. 150 (1994).
Plaintiffs have already filed a Motion for New Trial in their
original action pursuant to Rule 60(c). See Doc. 36-1. As such,
Plaintiffs are already pursing the legal remedy available to them
in seeking relief from the alleged fraud upon the trial court. The
Circuit Court of Baxter County, Arkansas has the authority to grant
Plaintiffs the relief they are seeking, and that is the appropriate
forum for this dispute.
The Court finds that Plaintiffs have an adequate remedy at law
to pursue this case. As such, summary judgment is appropriate and
Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 15) is GRANTED.
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Plaintiffs’ Motions for Hearing on Defendant’s Motion for Summary
Judgment (Docs. 38 and 40), and Plaintiffs’ Motion for Extension of
Time to Complete Discovery (Doc. 44) are DENIED.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 19th day of July, 2011.
/s/Paul K. Holmes, III
PAUL K. HOLMES, III
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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