Biggins v. Danberg et al
MEMORANDUM Signed by Judge Gregory M. Sleet on 5/18/2017. (lmm)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE
JAMES ARTHUR BIGGINS,
R. WILLEY, et al.,
) Civ. Action No. 09-862-GMS
The plaintiff, James Arthur Biggins ("Biggins"), an inmate at the James T. Vaughn
Correctional Center ("VCC"), Smyrna, Delaware, filed this lawsuit on November 13, 2009. (D.1.
1.) Biggins appears pro se and was granted permission to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1915. (D.1. 13.)
On August 22, 2013, the court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment and
denied Biggins' motion for an emergency temporary injunction, order of restraint, and motion for
stay on defendants' motion for summary judgment. (See D.I. 186, 187.) Biggins filed a motion
for relief from final judgment, denied on June 16, 2014, followed by a second motion for relief
from judgment, denied on January 14, 2015. (See D.I. 188, 193, 194, 197.) Biggins appealed.
(D.I. 199.) On October 7, 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, dismiss
the appeal for failure to timely prosecute. See Biggins v. Danberg, No. 15-1384 (3d Cir. Oct. 7,
2015). On February 1, 2017, Biggins filed the pending motion
to Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(d)(l), and on February 21, 2017, he filed a letter/motion to reopen the case.
(See D.I. 202, 203.)
Biggins seeks relief pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(d)(l) on the grounds of newly
discovered evidence. Rule 60(d)(l) permits a court to "entertain an independent action to relieve
a party from a judgment, order, or proceeding." Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(d)(l).
Typically the relief Biggins seeks is brought pursuant to Rule 60(b)(2) which provides
that a party may file a motion for relief from a final judgment based upon newly discovered
evidence by which due diligence could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial
under Rule 59(b). Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(2). A motion based on newly discovered evidence
under Rule 60(b)(2) must be brought within one year after the entry of the judgment. See Fed. R.
Civ. P. 60(c). Hence, had Biggins opted to proceed under Rule 60(b)(2), the motion would have
Although several courts of appeal have acknowledged that an independent action under
Rule 60( d)(l) may be an appropriate vehicle for reviewing a time-barred Rule 60(b) motion, Rule
60(d) is available "only to prevent a grave miscarriage of justice." United States v. Beggerly, 524
U.S. 38, 47 (1998); see e.g., Mitchell v. Rees, 651F.3d593, 597 (6th Cir. 2011) (an independent
action under Rule 60(d)(l) may be an appropriate vehicle for reviewing a time-barred Rule 60(b)
An independent action under Rule 60(d)(l) based on newly discovered evidence must at
least meet the requirements for a motion under Rule 60(b )(2). See Crowley v. Cooperstein, No.
1996 WL 524101, at *1 (E.D. Pa. Sept. 11, 1996); 12 Moore's Fed. Prac. Civ. § 60.81(4) (2014)
(noting that some courts require even more justification for an independent action than is
required for Rule 60(b)(2) motion). In determining whether Biggins can meet his burden to
sustain a Rule 60(d)(l) independent action, the court must consider his allegations against the
standards for a motion under Rule 60(b )(2). This analysis also serves as a determination of
whether Biggins could prevail under Rule 60(b) even were it not time-barred.
Under Rule 60(b)(2), "newly discovered evidence" refers to "evidence of facts in
existence at the time of trial of which the aggrieved party was excusably ignorant." Bohus v.
Beloff, 950 F.2d 919, 930 (3d Cir. 1991). "The evidence must have been discovered after trial,
and the failure to learn must not have been caused by a lack of diligence. The evidence must be
material to the issues involved, yet not merely cumulative or impeaching and must be of such a
nature that it would probably change the outcome." Stridiron v. Stridiron, 698 F.2d 204, 207 (3d
Cir. 1983). "The movant under Rule 60(b) 'bears a heavy burden,' ... which requires 'more than
a showing of the potential significance of the new evidence."' Bohus, 950 F.2d at 930 (citation
Biggins describes the "newly discovered evidence" as a "recent request by the Third
Circuit Court of Appeals" that verifies the court erred in its rulings. (D.I. 202 at 4.) The order,
dated December 1, 2016, sought copies of pleadings with regard to Biggins' petition to file a
second or successive habeas corpus petition in In re James Arthur Biggins, No. 16-4165 (3d
Cir.), denied Dec. 21, 2016, petition for panel and en bane rehearing denied Jan. 23, 2017. (D.I.
202, ex. D.) Biggins also refers to "more newly discovered evidence" based upon the Third
Circuit Court of Appeal's ruling in David Mackel v. Pierce (no case cite provided), regarding the
issue of daily strip searches while in isolation. (D.I. 203.) While not clear, the court believes
that Biggins is describing Parkell v. Danberg, 833 F .3d 313 (3d Cir. 2016), wherein the appellate
court remanded an unreasonable search claim to this court after determining there remained
issues of fact as to whether thrice-daily visual body-cavity searches of inmates was reasonably
related to the prison's legitimate interests in detecting and deterring contraband.
Contrary to Biggins' position, the "newly discovered evidence" he refers to is not
evidence at all. Rather, he refers to an order (Case No. 16-4165 issued December 1, 2016) and
an opinion (Case No. 14-1667 issued August 17, 2016), both issued after October 7, 2015 when
Biggins' appeal in this case was dismissed for his failure to timely prosecute. The fact that the
"newly discovered evidence" was nonexistent precludes Biggins from asserting a claim under the
standards applicable to Rule 60(b )(2) motions. As an additional ground for denying relief under
Rule 60(b)(2), Biggins fails to show that the "new" evidence he refers to is "not merely
cumulative or impeaching" or that "it would probably change the outcome" of his case. Notably,
Biggins' appeal in this matter was dismissed due to his inaction. Accordingly, the court finds
that Biggins has failed to meet the "heavy burden" required to prevail on a motion under Rule
60(b)(2). See Bohus, 950 F.2d at 930. And thus, his request under Rule 60(d)(l) also fails.
For the reasons stated, the court will deny the motion for relief from judgment pursuant
to Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(d)(l) and the letter/motion to reopen the case.
An appropriate order will be entered.
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?