Cohen v. Trump

Filing 330

ORDER denying Leeland O. White's "Amended Motion to Set Aside Judgment" and "Amended Motion to Vacate Settlement Agreement and Reverse Denial of Motion to Intervene (ECF 311 , 315 ). Signed by Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel on 6/27/2017. (fth)

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Case 3:13-cv-02519-GPC-WVG Document 330 Filed 06/27/17 PageID.19709 Page 1 of 7 1 2 3 4 5 6 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 7 SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 8 9 10 ART COHEN, Individually and on Behalf of All Others Similarly Situated, 13 14 ORDER DENYING LEELAND O. WHITE’S “AMENDED MOTION TO SET ASIDE JUDGMENT” AND “AMENDED MOTION TO VACATE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT AND REVERSE DENIAL OF MOTION TO INTERVENE” Plaintiff, 11 12 Case No.: 3:13-cv-02519-GPC-WVG v. DONALD J. TRUMP, Defendant. 15 [ECF Nos. 311, 315.] 16 17 18 19 Before the Court are Leeland O. White’s (“White’s”) “Amended Motion to Set 20 Aside Judgment” and “Amended Motion to Vacate Settlement Agreement and Reverse 21 Denial of Motion to Intervene.” (Dkt. Nos. 311, 315.) Because White is not a party to 22 the case, the Court, out of an abundance of caution, construes White’s filings as a motion 23 for reconsideration under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) and a supplemental brief, 24 respectively. Defendants President Trump and Trump University, LLC, (“Defendants”) 25 oppose. (Dkt. No. 319.) Plaintiff and Class Representative Art Cohen (“Plaintiff”) joins 26 Defendants’ opposition. (Dkt. No. 320.) The Court finds the motion suitable for 27 disposition without oral argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1(d)(1). Upon review of 28 1 3:13-cv-02519-GPC-WVG Case 3:13-cv-02519-GPC-WVG Document 330 Filed 06/27/17 PageID.19710 Page 2 of 7 1 the moving papers and applicable law, and for the reasons set below, the Court DENIES 2 White’s motions and VACATES the hearing scheduled for July 14, 2017. 3 RELEVANT BACKGROUND 4 The Court has previously recited the factual background in this case at length and 5 will not reiterate it here. (See, e.g., Dkt. No. 53, Order Granting Motion for Class 6 Certification.) A brief review of relevant procedural background suffices. 7 On October 18, 2013, Plaintiff Art Cohen filed a Complaint on behalf of himself 8 and all others similarly situated. (Dkt. No. 1, Compl.) Cohen filed a notice of related 9 case, connecting his lawsuit with Low v. Trump University LLC, Case No. 3:10-cv- 10 00940-GPC-WVG, which was filed on April 30, 2010. (Dkt. No. 3.) On February 21, 11 2014, the Court certified, in Low, a class of “[a]ll persons who purchased a Trump 12 University three-day live ‘Fulfillment’ workshop and/or a ‘Elite’ program (‘Live Events’) 13 in California, New York and Florida, and have not received a full refund.” (Low, Dkt. 14 No. 298 at 35.)1 On October 27, 2014, the Court granted Plaintiff Cohen’s motion to 15 certify a class of “[a]ll persons who purchased Live Events from Trump University 16 throughout the United States from January 1, 2007 to the present.” (Cohen, Dkt. No. 53 17 at 22.) 18 On November 18, 2016, Plaintiffs in Cohen and Low executed a settlement 19 agreement with Defendants, as well as with the New York State Attorney General. (Dkt. 20 No. 279.) The Court granted the parties’ Joint Motion for Preliminary Approval of Class 21 Action Settlement on December 20, 2016. (Dkt. No. 282.) The Court set a final approval 22 hearing for March 30, 2017. (Id. at 9.) 23 24 On November 18, 2016, White, proceeding pro se, first attempted to file an ex parte motion to intervene by right.2 (Dkt. No. 280.) The filing was rejected for failure to 25 26 1 All citations to the record therein are based upon the pagination imprinted by the CM/ECF system. On November 28, 2016, White also filed an objection letter and motion to intervene in Low, entitled “Ex Parte Objection to Settlement Agreement Dismissing This Case on December 19, 2016 Sua Sponte and Ex Parte Motion to Intervene Pursuant to Rule 24 Fed. R. Civ. P.” (Dkt. No. 582.) The filing was rejected for non-compliance with the Civil Local Rules. (Id.) Moreover, White is not a class member. 2 27 28 2 3:13-cv-02519-GPC-WVG Case 3:13-cv-02519-GPC-WVG Document 330 Filed 06/27/17 PageID.19711 Page 3 of 7 1 comply with the Civil Local Rules. (Id.) White then attempted to file another motion to 2 intervene on January 10, 2017. (Dkt. No. 284.) The filing was rejected, again, for non- 3 compliance with the Civil Local Rules.3 (Id.) 4 White filed an “Amended Ex Parte Motion in Right to Intervene and to Object,” 5 nunc pro tunc to January 19, 2017. (Dkt. No. 287.) On February 6, 2017, Defendants 6 filed an opposition brief. (Dkt. No. 291.) Plaintiff joined Defendants’ opposition. (Dkt. 7 No. 292.) White filed a reply, nunc pro tunc to February 17, 2017. (Dkt. No. 297.)4 On 8 March 23, 2017, the Court entered an Order denying White’s motion to intervene. (Dkt. 9 No. 303.) 10 The Court held a final approval hearing on March 30, 2017. (Low, Dkt. No. 617; 11 Cohen, Dkt. No. 304.) On March 31, 2017, the Court granted the Parties’ joint motion 12 for final approval of the Settlement and granted Plaintiffs’ motion for approval of class 13 representative awards. (Low, Dkt. No. 618; Cohen, Dkt. No. 305.) Final judgment was 14 entered on the same day. (Low, Dkt. No. 619; Cohen, Dkt. No. 306.) 15 White filed the instant motion for reconsideration on May 3, 2017. (Dkt. No. 311.) 16 He subsequently filed a supplemental brief on May 22, 2017. (Dkt. No. 315.) 17 Defendants filed a response in opposition on May 25, 2017, and Plaintiff filed a Notice of 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 In any event, his objection letter was filed before the Court preliminarily approved the settlement and set forth procedural requirements for objecting to the settlement. To the extent his rejected application to intervene is cognizable, it fails for the same reasons his accepted motion to intervene failed. 3 White objects to the Court’s rejection of his filings for noncompliance with the Civil Local Rules. However, “[t]he district court has considerable latitude in managing the parties’ motion practice and enforcing local rules that place parameters on briefing.” Christian v. Mattel, Inc., 286 F.3d 1118, 1129 (9th Cir. 2002). Moreover, White’s objections do not cure the legal deficiencies in his motions. 4 White has repeatedly attempted to file motions entitled “Motion to Determine Possible Conspiracy Pursuant to Title 18 U.S.C. § 241 and If Such Offense May Be a High Crime or Misdemeanor,” (Dkt. No. 290), “Leave of Court to File Motion to Determine Possible Conspiracy Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 241 and If Such Offense May Be a High Crime or Misdemeanor,” (Dkt. No. 293), and “Amended Motion and Memoranda Concerning Conspiracy to Title 18 U.S.C. § 241 and to Declare Defendant Has Committed a High Crime or Misdemeanor,” (Dkt. No. 300). White’s filings were rejected for noncompliance with the Civil Local Rules, and on grounds that he is not a party to the case, a fact plainly evident from his failed attempts to intervene. (See Dkt. Nos. 290, 293, 300.) 3 3:13-cv-02519-GPC-WVG Case 3:13-cv-02519-GPC-WVG Document 330 Filed 06/27/17 PageID.19712 Page 4 of 7 1 Joinder to Defendants’ response. (Dkt. Nos. 319, 320.) White filed a reply, nunc pro 2 tunc to June 16, 2017. (Dkt. No. 328.) 3 LEGAL STANDARD 4 A district court may reconsider a judgment under either Federal Rule of Civil 5 Procedure (“Rule”) 59(e) or 60(b).5 See Sch. Dist. No. 1J, Multnomah Cty., Or. v. 6 ACandS, Inc., 5 F.3d 1255, 1262 (9th Cir. 1993). Rule 60(b) provides for reconsideration 7 only upon a showing of: (1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect; (2) 8 newly discovered evidence; (3) fraud, misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing 9 party; (4) a void judgment; (5) a satisfied or discharged judgment; or (6) any other reason 10 that justifies relief. Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b); see also Sch. Dist. No. 1J, Multnomah Cty., 11 Or., 5 F.3d at 1263 (quoting Fuller v. M.G. Jewelry, 950 F.2d 1437, 1442 (9th Cir. 12 1991)). A “party seeking relief under Rule 60(b)(6) must show ‘extraordinary 13 circumstances’ justifying the reopening of a final judgment.” Wood v. Ryan, 759 F.3d 14 1117, 1120 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting Gonzalez v. Crosby, 545 U.S. 524, 535 (2005)). 15 16 In addition, Local Civil Rule 7.1(i)(1) provides that a motion for reconsideration must include an affidavit or certified statement of a party or attorney 17 setting forth the material facts and circumstances surrounding each prior application, including inter alia: (1) when and to what judge the application was made, (2) what ruling or decision or order was made thereon, and (3) what new and different facts and circumstances are claimed to exist which did not exist, or were not shown upon such prior application. 18 19 20 21 Local Civ. R. 7.1(i)(1).6 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 5 White contends that he is entitled to reconsideration under both Rule 59(e) and 60(b). However, White’s Rule 59(e) motion is time-barred because it was filed more than twenty-eight days after entry of judgment. Even if White’s Rule 59(e) motion were timely, it nonetheless fails on the merits. “A district court may grant a Rule 59(e) motion if it ‘is presented with newly discovered evidence, committed clear error, or if there is an intervening change in the controlling law.’” Wood v. Ryan, 759 F.3d 1117, 1121 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting McDowell v. Calderon, 197 F.3d 1253, 1255 (9th Cir. 1999) (en banc)). White’s motion presents none of the above. 6 White has not complied with Local Rule 7.1(i)(1). 4 3:13-cv-02519-GPC-WVG Case 3:13-cv-02519-GPC-WVG Document 330 Filed 06/27/17 PageID.19713 Page 5 of 7 1 The Court has discretion in granting or denying a motion for reconsideration. 2 Fuller, 950 F.2d at 1441. Reconsideration is “an extraordinary remedy, to be used 3 sparingly in the interests of finality and conservation of judicial resources.” United States 4 v. Rivercliff Farm, Inc., No. 3:16-CV-1248-SI, 2016 WL 6662696, at *1 (D. Or. Nov. 10, 5 2016) (citing Carroll v. Nakatani, 342 F.3d 934, 945 (9th Cir. 2003)). “[W]here the 6 motion for reconsideration raises no new arguments, but instead relies on the same 7 arguments made in the party’s original opposition, the motion for reconsideration should 8 be denied.” United States v. Goo, No. 00-00540, 2002 WL 1760850, at *1 (D. Haw. June 9 3, 2002); see also Glavor v. Shearson Lehman Hutton, Inc., 879 F. Supp. 1028, 1032 10 (N.D. Cal. 1994); Fuller, 950 F.2d at 1442; Backlund v. Barnhart, 778 F.2d 1386, 1388 11 (9th Cir. 1985). “A motion for reconsideration should not be used to ask the court ‘to 12 rethink what the court had already thought through—rightly or wrongly.’” United States 13 v. Rezzonico, 32 F. Supp. 2d 1112, 1116 (D. Ariz. 1998) (quoting Above the Belt, Inc. v. 14 Mel Bohannan Roofing, Inc., 99 F.R.D. 99, 101 (E.D. Va. 1983)). 15 DISCUSSION 16 White moves the Court to (1) reconsider its Order denying his motion to intervene, 17 (Dkt. No. 315 at 13), and to (2) vacate the settlement agreement and continue the matter 18 to jury trial, (Dkt. No. 311 at 8–9). White’s contentions are meritless.7 19 A. Reconsideration of Denial of White’s Motion to Intervene 20 White fails to show that he is entitled to reconsideration on any of the grounds 21 enumerated in Rule 60(b). See Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b); Sch. Dist. No. 1J, Multnomah Cty., 22 Or., 5 F.3d at 1263. He merely reiterates arguments the Court previously considered and 23 rejected when denying his motion to intervene.8 (Compare Dkt. Nos. 311, 315 with Dkt. 24 25 26 27 28 7 White also supplies numerous unsubstantiated and irrelevant allegations, including, inter alia, criminal activity by Defendants, conspiracy by the government and all parties’ counsel, and obstruction of justice by the Court and the Clerk of this Court. The Court declines to address these irrelevant allegations. 8 To the extent any of White’s arguments are “new” arguments, White waived such arguments by failing to timely raise them in his original motion to intervene. See, e.g., Johnson v. CFS II, Inc., 628 F. App’x 505 (9th Cir. 2016) (“The district court correctly found that CFS’s Rule 60(b)(6) motion was untimely 5 3:13-cv-02519-GPC-WVG Case 3:13-cv-02519-GPC-WVG Document 330 Filed 06/27/17 PageID.19714 Page 6 of 7 1 No. 287.) White’s rehashed arguments do not merit reconsideration.9 See White v. 2 Square, Inc., 2016 WL 6647927, at *2 (N.D. Cal. 2016) (“A party seeking 3 reconsideration under Rule 59 and Rule 60 must do more than rehash arguments or 4 recapitulate cases already considered by the court.”); Phillips v. C.R. Bard, Inc., 290 5 F.R.D. 615, 670 (D. Nev. 2013) (“[M]otions for reconsideration are not the proper 6 vehicles for rehashing old arguments and are not intended to give an unhappy litigant one 7 additional chance to sway the judge.” (internal citation omitted)). 8 White admits that his “sole purpose” for attempting to intervene is to “compell 9 [sic] the United States” to launch a criminal investigation of Defendants. (Dkt. No. 311 10 at 9.) At bottom, White’s concerns bear no relation to the operative legal issues in Low 11 and Cohen. White’s stated purpose for seeking intervention does not allow him to 12 intervene as of right or permissively, much less entitle him to the extraordinary remedy of 13 reconsideration. 14 B. Motion to Vacate Judgment 15 A nonparty to the litigation has standing to file a motion to vacate judgment “only 16 in exceptional circumstances when: (1) the party participated in the proceedings below; 17 and (2) the equities favor hearing the appeal.” Citibank Int’l v. Collier-Traino, Inc., 809 18 F.2d 1438, 1441 (9th Cir. 1987); see also Padilla v. Willner, No. 15-CV-04866-JST, 19 2016 WL 860948, at *9 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 7, 2016). 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 and that the previously unraised arguments were waived.”); accord Figy v. Amy’s Kitchen, Inc., 2014 WL 3362178, at *3 (N.D. Cal. 2014) (“A Rule 59(e) or Rule 60(b) motion cannot be used to . . . raise new arguments that could have previously been presented prior to the entry of judgment.”). 9 In any event, White’s arguments lack merit. White asserts that 18 U.S.C. § 1962 and Leeke v. Timmerman, 454 U.S. 83 (1981), provide him with an unconditional right to intervene under Rule 24(a)(1). White’s reading of the law is in error. 18 U.S.C. § 1962, a section of the criminal RICO statute, does not provide White an unconditional right to intervene. Nor does Leeke provide such an unconditional right to intervene—to the contrary, “a private citizen lacks a judicially cognizable interest in the prosecution or non-prosecution of another.” Leeke, 454 U.S. at 86 (quoting Linda R. S. v. Richard D., 410 U.S. 614, 619 (1973)). White also asserts that he was not served the Notice of Joinder by Plaintiff in objection to his motion to intervene. White’s contention that Plaintiff’s failure to serve him warrants reversal of the denial of his motion to intervene lacks any support in the law. Moreover, the record reflects that Plaintiff did in fact serve White. (See Dkt. No. 292 at 4.) 6 3:13-cv-02519-GPC-WVG Case 3:13-cv-02519-GPC-WVG Document 330 Filed 06/27/17 PageID.19715 Page 7 of 7 White fails to establish “exceptional circumstances” under either prong. First, 1 2 White did not participate in the proceedings in this matter. White’s participation is 3 limited to his filing of an unsuccessful motion to intervene. Simply filing a motion to 4 intervene does not grant nonparties standing to challenge a final judgment. See S. 5 California Edison Co. v. Lynch, 307 F.3d 794, 804 (9th Cir. 2002); Padilla, 2016 WL 6 860948, at *9. Second, the equities do not favor allowing White to challenge the 7 judgment, as White’s interests fall far outside of the scope of the legal issues in Low or 8 Cohen.10 C.f. Herring v. F.D.I.C., 82 F.3d 282, 285 (9th Cir. 1995) (“A party with no 9 interest in the litigation generally has no standing.”). 10 CONCLUSION 11 For the foregoing reasons, the Court DENIES White’s “Amended Motion to Set 12 Aside Judgment” and “Amended Motion to Vacate Settlement Agreement and Reverse 13 Denial of Motion to Intervene.” (Dkt. Nos. 311, 315.) The hearing scheduled for July 14 14, 2017 is VACATED. 15 16 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: June 27, 2017 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 White’s assertion that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68 divested the Court of jurisdiction in Low is unsubstantiated and meritless. 10 7 3:13-cv-02519-GPC-WVG

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