Cunningham v. Singer et al

Filing 134

ORDER DENYING 126 MOTION TO VACATE JUDGMENT FOR FRAUD ON THE COURT by Hon. William Alsup. (whalc2, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 12/28/2016)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 7 FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 8 9 ARCHIBALD CUNNINGHAM, 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 12 13 14 No. C 14-03250 WHA Plaintiff, v. ORDER DENYING MOTION TO VACATE JUDGMENT FOR FRAUD ON THE COURT KEVIN SINGER, et al., Defendants. / 15 16 17 INTRODUCTION Following entry of judgment against him and denial of his motion for reconsideration 18 long ago, plaintiff now moves to vacate the judgment for fraud on the court pursuant to FRCP 19 60(d)(3). Plaintiff’s motion is DENIED. 20 21 STATEMENT Following a protracted series of abusive and frivolous lawsuits and appeals, plaintiff 22 Archibald Cunningham brought the instant action in 2014. A previous order granted 23 defendants’ motions to dismiss and declared plaintiff a vexatious litigant (Dkt. No. 113). 24 Judgment was entered against him the same day (Dkt. No. 114). Plaintiff then moved for 25 reconsideration pursuant to FRCP 59(e) (Dkt. No. 116). The motion was denied (Dkt. No. 120). 26 Now, almost two years later, plaintiff moves to vacate the judgment for fraud on the court 27 pursuant to FRCP 60(d)(3) (Dkt. No. 126). Defendants John Scott McKay, Michael Coombs, 28 and Tamara Woods oppose (Dkt. No. 127). Defendant Kevin Singer joins in the opposition. 1 2 ANALYSIS Courts have inherent equity power to vacate judgments obtained by fraud. United States U.S. 32, 44 (1991)). Subsection (d)(3) of FRCP 60, which governs relief from a judgment or 5 order, states that the rule “does not limit a court’s power to . . . set aside a judgment for fraud on 6 the court.” Not all fraud, however, is fraud on the court. In re Levander, 180 F.3d 1114, 1119 7 (9th Cir. 1999). In determining whether fraud constitutes fraud on the court, the relevant 8 inquiry is whether it harmed the integrity of the judicial process. Stonehill, 660 F.3d at 444 9 (quotations omitted). Fraud on the court must be shown by clear and convincing evidence. Id. 10 at 443–44. Importantly, “[m]ere nondisclosure of evidence is typically not enough to constitute 11 For the Northern District of California v. Estate of Stonehill, 660 F.3d 415, 443 (9th Cir. 2011) (citing Chambers v. NASCO, Inc., 501 4 United States District Court 3 fraud on the court, and ‘perjury by a party or witness, by itself, is not normally fraud on the 12 court.’” Stonehill, 660 F.3d at 444 (quoting Levander, 180 F.3d at 1119). 13 Plaintiff’s briefs narrate at length his grievances with long-ago state court proceedings in 14 connection with his eviction. His motion essentially attempts to relitigate those grievances on 15 their merits and puts up only a threadbare facade of Rule 60(d) analysis consisting primarily of 16 unsupported accusations of fraud. The accusations connect to no actual allegations describing 17 fraudulent conduct but rather function as mere buzzwords signifying plaintiff’s disagreements 18 with his opponents’ actions and arguments. For example, plaintiff claims defendants committed 19 fraud by using Section 568 of the California Code of Civil Procedure against him (Dkt. No. 126 20 at 7–8), taking steps to effectuate his eviction (id. at 10–16), and defending their legal positions 21 against him during oral argument before the undersigned (id. at 16; Dkt. No. 129 at 7–13). In 22 short, plaintiff recasts virtually every step defendants took in this litigation — at least insofar as 23 he disagreed with said steps — as fraud. Moreover, his allegations — even if true — would 24 constitute only fraud on the state court, not fraud on this Court. Rehashing of long-settled state 25 law issues, however, cannot support a Rule 60(d) motion here, nor can plaintiff use Rule 60(d) 26 as a procedural vehicle to relitigate his eviction on the merits in federal court. 27 Plaintiff also requests “an evidentiary hearing on the issue of the extrinsic frauds 28 Attorney McKay has committed on the state court, the SF Sheriff’s Dept., and the district court” 2 1 (Dkt. No. 126 at 23). Aside from the apparent desire to relitigate all his grievances, plaintiff 2 offers no discernible rationale why fraudulent conduct in state court necessitates an evidentiary 3 hearing here. Plaintiff also complains that the undersigned “allowed Attorney McKay to 4 ‘testify’ as to the facts and law during oral argument and treated his unsworn statements as 5 ‘evidence’ that [plaintiff] had been properly evicted and was ‘vexatious’” (id. at 22). Plaintiff is 6 wrong. Parties do not “testify” by speaking to facts and law during oral argument, and the 7 Court’s previous order dismissing plaintiff’s case did not make factual findings regarding 8 plaintiff’s eviction or rely on attorney statements from oral argument as evidence. 9 established entitlement to an evidentiary hearing on his allegations of fraud. 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 In short, plaintiff has not shown fraud on the court by clear and convincing evidence or 12 CONCLUSION For the foregoing reasons, plaintiff’s motion is DENIED. 13 14 IT IS SO ORDERED. 15 16 Dated: December 28, 2016. WILLIAM ALSUP UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

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