Clarke et al v. Partners for Payment Relief DE, LLC et al
ORDER. ORDERED that plaintiffs' Motion to Vacate Default Judgment and Dismiss with Prejudice 21 is DENIED. Signed by Judge Philip A. Brimmer on 02/11/16.(jhawk, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO
Judge Philip A. Brimmer
Civil Action No. 14-cv-01538-PAB-CBS
ARLETTE CLARKE and
NATIONAL PAYMENT RELIEF, LLC,
This matter is before the Court on the Motion to Vacate Default Judgment and
Dismiss with Prejudice [Docket No. 21] filed by plaintiffs Arlette Clarke and Dylan
Clarke. On January 2, 2015, the Court granted plaintiffs’ motion for default judgment
against defendant National Payment Relief, LLC on plaintiffs’ claim that defendant
violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq. Docket No.
17. Relevant factual background and the basis for the Court’s entry of default judgment
are set forth in the Court’s order, see id., and will not be recited here.
After default judgment entered, plaintiffs reached a settlement agreement with a
third party, who agreed to indemnify defendant for the acts that gave rise to this action.
Docket No. 21 at 1. As part of the settlement, plaintiffs agreed to move the Court to
vacate its entry of default judgment. Id.
“[T]here is a public policy in favor of the settlement of disputes and  courts will
honor this policy by facilitating settlement where appropriate.” City of Aurora, Colo. v.
PS Sys., Inc., No. 07-cv-02371-PAB-BNB, 2010 WL 2670819, at *1 (D. Colo. July 2,
2010); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 16, advisory committee’s notes, 1983 amendment
(amended in 1983 to include settlement negotiations as a purpose of pretrial
conferences because “settlement  eases crowded court dockets and results in savings
to the litigants and the judicial system.”). However, vacatur works to “erase” a decision
made, and hence, to attempt to limit its subsequent power. See In re Memorial Hosp.
of Iowa Cty., Inc., 862 F.2d 1299, 1300 (7th Cir. 1988) (“History cannot be rewritten.”);
see also Benavides v. Jackson Nat’l Life Ins. Co., 820 F. Supp. 1284, 1289 (D. Colo.
1993) (“Vacatur allows [parties] to control the direction and content of the
jurisprudence–to weed out the negative precedent and preserve the positive–and
create an artificially weighty and one-sided estimate of what comprises ‘the case law.’”).
Absent “extraordinary circumstances,” a vacatur of an earlier ruling would not be
justified based simply on the parties’ settlement. See, e.g., U.S. Bancorp Mortg. Co. v.
Bonner Mall P’ship, 513 U.S. 18, 29 (1994); Aqua Marine Supply v. AIM Machining,
Inc., 247 F.3d 1216, 1221 (Fed. Cir. 2001); In re Memorial Hosp. of Iowa Cty., 862 F.2d
at 1300; City of Aurora, 2010 WL 2670819, at *1; Polymasc Pharms., PLC., v. Alza
Corp., 2004 WL 633256, at *1-2 (D. Del. Mar. 26, 2004); Clever Devices, Ltd., v. Digital
Recorders, Inc., 2004 WL 1265934, at *1 (N.D. Tex. June 3, 2004); Vutek, Inc. v.
Leggett & Platt, Inc., 2009 WL 3806368, at *1 (E.D. Mo. Nov. 12, 2009); Benavides,
820 F. Supp. at 1288 (adopting the plurality of circuits’ reasoning that vacatur based on
post-judgment settlement should be refused).
Plaintiffs ask the Court to vacate its default judgment order because they have
reached a post-judgment settlement agreement with a third party which will indemnify
defendant for its actions. Docket No. 21 at 1. The Court declines to do so. Default
judgments punish parties who fail to appear before the court, and promote justice by
deterring such behavior. See Cessna Fin. Corp. v. Bielenberg Masonry Contracting,
Inc., 715 F.2d 1442, 1444-45 (10th Cir. 1983) (“[A] workable system of justice requires
that litigants not be free to appear at their pleasure. W e therefore must hold parties
and their attorneys to a reasonably high standard of diligence in observing the courts’
rules of procedure. The threat of judgment by default serves as an incentive to meet
this standard.”). Allowing a party against whom default judgment was entered to evade
such judgment by reaching a post-judgment settlement would undermine the Court’s
authority to ensure that litigants appear to defend claims brought against them.
Moreover, a judicial opinion is a public act of government that parties cannot expunge
through a private agreement. In re Memorial Hosp. of Iowa Cty., 862 F.2d at 1300.
“[S]uch a practice [would] come dangerously close to engendering improper advisory
opinions by courts, [and] might also encourage inefficiencies through repetitive
litigation.” City of Aurora, 2010 WL 2670819, at *1. The Court, therefore, declines to
vacate its entry of default judgment.
For the foregoing reasons, it is
ORDERED that plaintiffs’ Motion to Vacate Default Judgment and Dismiss with
Prejudice [Docket No. 21] is DENIED.
DATED February 11, 2016.
BY THE COURT:
s/Philip A. Brimmer
PHILIP A. BRIMMER
United States District Judge
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