Cantu v. Garcia et al

Filing 202

ORDER Denying 201 Motion for Reconsideration, signed by District Judge Dale A. Drozd on 10/12/17. (Gonzalez, R)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 JOSHUA J. CANTU, 12 Plaintiff, 13 14 No. 1:09-cv-00177-DAD-GSA v. ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION M. GARCIA, et al., (Doc. No. 201) 15 Defendants. 16 Plaintiff Joshua J. Cantu is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with this civil rights action 17 18 pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On April 10, 2017, the parties filed a stipulation to voluntarily 19 dismiss this case with prejudice under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1)(A)(ii). (Doc. No. 20 199.) On May 22, 2017, the court issued an order acknowledging the stipulated dismissal of the 21 action with prejudice under Rule 41(a)(1)(A)(ii) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and 22 directing the Clerk of the Court to close the case. (Doc. No. 200.) On June 5, 2017, Plaintiff filed what he styled as a “Motion Not to Close Case” which the 23 24 court construes as a motion for reconsideration of the court’s May 22, 2017 order. (Doc No. 25 201.) Defendants have not filed a response to plaintiff’s motion.1 26 1 27 28 Moreover, plaintiff has not filed anything with the court since submitting his motion which was received on June 5, 2017. It is quite possible that plaintiff’s motion has been rendered moot since its filing by defendants’ subsequent performance as anticipated by the parties’ settlement agreement. 1 1 Federal Civil Procedure Rule 60(b) provides that “[o]n motion and upon such terms as are 2 just, the court may relieve a party. . . from a final judgment, order, or proceeding for the 3 following reasons: (1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect; . . . or (6) any other 4 reason justifying relief from the operation of the judgment.” “The law in this circuit is that errors 5 of law are cognizable under Rule 60(b).” Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. v. EEOC, 691 F.2d 438, 441 (9th 6 Cir. 1982). 7 Relief under Rule 60 “is to be used sparingly as an equitable remedy to prevent manifest 8 injustice and is to be utilized only where extraordinary circumstances” exist. Harvest v. Castro, 9 531 F.3d 737, 749 (9th Cir. 2008) (internal quotations marks and citation omitted) (addressing 10 reconsideration under Rule 60(b)(1)–(5)). The moving party “must demonstrate both injury and 11 circumstances beyond his control.” Id. (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Further, 12 Local Rule 230(j) requires, in relevant part, that in moving for reconsideration of an order 13 denying or granting a prior motion, a party must show “what new or different facts or 14 circumstances are claimed to exist which did not exist or were not shown” previously, “what 15 other grounds exist for the motion,” and “why the facts or circumstances were not shown” at the 16 time the substance of the order which is objected to was considered. 17 “A motion for reconsideration should not be granted, absent highly unusual 18 circumstances, unless the district court is presented with newly discovered evidence, committed 19 clear error, or if there is an intervening change in the controlling law,” and it “may not be used to 20 raise arguments or present evidence for the first time when they could reasonably have been 21 raised earlier in the litigation.” Marlyn Nutraceuticals, Inc. v. Mucos Pharma GmbH & Co., 571 22 F.3d 873, 880 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotations marks and citations omitted). 23 In his pending motion, plaintiff claims that he has not received any money pursuant to the 24 parties’ settlement agreement. Plaintiff requests the court to void the settlement agreement and 25 reopen the case, so he can proceed with discovery. 26 Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, possessing only that power authorized by 27 Constitution and statute. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994.) A claim 28 for breach of contract or a settlement agreement, even if part of the consideration for it is 2 1 dismissal of a federal case, will not provide the basis for federal court jurisdiction. Id. at 381. 2 This limited jurisdiction cannot be expanded by judicial decree. Id. at 377 (citing Am. Fire & 3 Cas. Co. v. Finn, 341 U.S. 6, 17-18 (1951)). Lack of jurisdiction is to be presumed and the 4 burden of proving jurisdiction rests with the party asserting jurisdiction. Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at 5 377. 6 Enforcement of a settlement agreement is “more than a continuation or renewal of the 7 dismissed suit, and hence requires its own basis for jurisdiction.” Id. at 378. A district court 8 lacks jurisdiction to enforce a settlement agreement following a dismissal of the action unless the 9 district judge either: (1) expressly in the dismissal order, retains jurisdiction over the settlement 10 agreement; or (2) incorporates the terms of the settlement agreement in the dismissal order. See 11 id. at 381; see also K.C. ex rel. Erica C. v. Torlakson, 762 F.3d 963, 967 (9th Cir. 2014). Under 12 those circumstances, a breach of the agreement would be a violation of a court order and the 13 district court would have ancillary jurisdiction to enforce the agreement. Id. Absent those 14 circumstances, however, remedying any breach of the settlement agreement requires initiation of 15 a new lawsuit to enforce the contract. If the court does not retain jurisdiction to enforce the 16 settlement agreement, the vehicle for the enforcement of the settlement agreement is a breach of 17 contract claim in another proceeding, where “part of the consideration [for the contract] was 18 dismissal of an earlier federal suit.” Id. 19 Here, the parties filed a stipulation for voluntary dismissal with prejudice, pursuant to 20 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1)(A)(ii). (Doc. No. 199.) Under Rule 41(a)(1)(A)(ii), 21 “the plaintiff may dismiss an action without a court order by filing . . . a stipulation of dismissal 22 signed by all parties who have appeared.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(a)(1)(A)(ii). Plaintiff filed a 23 stipulation of dismissal signed by all parties who appeared in this case. The dismissal of this 24 case therefore took effect on the date the stipulation was filed, without a court order. The court’s 25 order of May 22, 2017, only acknowledged the parties’ stipulation and closed the case. (Doc. No. 26 200.) The undersigned neither expressly retained jurisdiction over the parties’ settlement 27 agreement, nor incorporated the terms of the settlement agreement in the order closing the case. 28 ///// 3 1 Absent such action, “enforcement of the settlement agreement is for state courts.” Kokkonen, 511 2 U.S. at 382. 3 Because plaintiff has not made the requisite showing of “extraordinary circumstances” 4 that would justify relief under Rule 60, plaintiff’s motion to void the settlement agreement (Doc. 5 No. 201) is denied. 6 IT IS SO ORDERED. 7 Dated: October 12, 2017 UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4

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