Ruppersberger v. Ramos
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 60(B) MOTION TO SET ASIDE ORDER ADOPTING MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS re: 67 . Signed by JUDGE ALAN C. KAY on 3/24/2017. (afc) WRITTEN ORDER follows hearing held March 13, 2017. Minutes: 78 . CERTIFICATE OF SERVICEParticipants registered to receive electronic notifications received this document electronically at the e-mail address listed on the Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF). Participants not registered to receive electronic notifications were served by first class mail on the date of this docket entry
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF HAWAII
) Civ. No. 11-00145 ACK-KJM
JOHN SIDNEY RUPPERSBERGER,
ROSARIO MAE RAMOS,
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT’S FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 60(B)
MOTION TO SET ASIDE ORDER ADOPTING MAGISTRATE JUDGE’S FINDINGS
For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES
Defendant Rosario Mae Ramos’ Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
60(b) Motion to Set Aside Order Adopting Magistrate Judge’s
Findings and Recommendations.
On March 8, 2011, Plaintiff John Sidney Ruppersberger
(“Plaintiff” or “Ruppersberger”) filed a Complaint in this Court
to collect on two promissory notes executed by Defendant Rosario
Mae Ramos (“Defendant” or “Ramos”) in favor of Plaintiff in the
principal amount of $80,000.
Compl. ¶¶ 9, 14, ECF No. 1.
On November 4, 2011, the Magistrate Judge held a
settlement conference on the record and a settlement was
ECF No. 28.
Defendant’s counsel prepared a
Stipulation for Dismissal.
ECF No. 34.
The Stipulation for
Dismissal had an empty signature line for the Court to sign with
“so ordered” written above it.
ECF No. 34.
After the parties
filed the stipulation, the Court approved it on January 3, 2012.
Stipulation for Dismissal Order, ECF No. 35.
“Approved as to
Form” was written above the Court’s signature.
ECF No. 35.
docket entry notes that the stipulation was signed by the Court.
ECF No. 35.
The stipulation provided, in pertinent part, as
1. The parties hereby agree that the abovecaptioned action is dismissed and discontinued
with prejudice, as to the named defendant,
pursuant to Rule 41(a) of the Federal Rules of
2. Any and all claims of damages by plaintiff
which are the subject of this action or
otherwise arise out of any incidents alleged
in the Complaint are hereby settled, as
against the named defendant, by the terms of
the $118,000 mortgage, promissory note and
limited power of attorney (collectively
hereinafter the “Settlement Documents”) in
full satisfaction of all claims for damages,
costs, disbursement and legal fees.
. . . .
4. In consideration for the execution of the
Settlement Documents stated in Paragraph #2,
above, plaintiff hereby releases the named
defendant and her heirs, executors,
administrators and assigns, from any and all
claims, liabilities and causes of action
related to or arising out of any and all of
the events set forth in the Complaint in the
. . . .
6. This Stipulation of Dismissal and any Order
entered thereon shall have no precedential
value or effect whatsoever and shall not be
admissible in any other action or proceeding
as evidence or for any other purpose except in
an action or proceeding to enforce this
Stipulation of Dismissal.
ECF No. 35, at 1-2.
On February 13, 2015, Plaintiff filed a Motion to
Enforce Settlement Agreement.
ECF No. 36.
At an initial
hearing on the Motion, the Magistrate Judge raised a question as
to whether the Court had jurisdiction to enforce the settlement.
See Pl.’s First Supp. Mem. in Supp. of Pl.’s Mot. to Enforce
Settlement Agreement, ECF No. 45, at 2.
filed a Supplemental Memorandum addressing this issue.
On July 7, 2015, after holding a hearing, Magistrate
Judge Barry M. Kurren issued Findings and Recommendations to
Grant Plaintiff’s Motion to Enforce Settlement Agreement
ECF No. 51.
The F&R found that the Court had
“jurisdiction to enforce the settlement agreement, as the
Stipulation for Dismissal incorporated the material terms of the
settlement, thus granting this Court ancillary jurisdiction to
enforce the settlement.”
Id. Conclusions of Law (“COL”) ¶ 2
(citing Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375, 381
Additionally, the F&R noted the Court had jurisdiction
because “there is an independent basis for federal
jurisdiction,” as the Court had diversity jurisdiction.
(citing Limbright v. Hofmeister, 566 F.3d 672, 674-75 (6th Cir.
The F&R noted that as part of the Settlement
Agreement, Defendant executed a new $118,000 Promissory Note and
Mortgage in favor of Plaintiff.
Id. Findings of Fact (“FOF”) ¶
The Promissory Note and Mortgage were secured by the
property referred to as the “Kaloli House.”
concluded that Defendant breached the settlement agreement by,
inter alia, failing to pay the Promissory Note and not
attempting to sell the Kaloli House, as agreed to by the
Id. at 8(a).
The Magistrate Judge recommended that the Court
appoint a Receiver to market and sell the Kaloli House.
The F&R also recommended that the Court retain jurisdiction
to supervise and assist the Receiver to perform his duties.
No objections to the F&R were filed and on July 27, 2015, the
Court entered its Order Adopting the F&R.
ECF No. 53.
On September 4, 2015, the Court entered an Order
appointing a Receiver.
ECF No. 54.
On May 3, 2016, the
Magistrate Judge entered an Order Granting Plaintiff’s Motion to
ECF No. 63.
On December 27, 2016, the
Receiver filed a Motion for Writ of Possession and Ejectment
ECF No. 64.
The Motion requests that the Court
issue a writ of possession and ejectment for the Kaloli Home.
Id. at 1.
Defendant filed a Memorandum in Opposition to the
Motion for Writ of Possession and Ejectment on January 9, 2017.
ECF No. 68.1
Concurrently with her Opposition, Defendant also filed
the instant Rule 60(b) Motion.
ECF No. 67.
Opposition on February 16, 2017.
Reply on February 27, 2017.
Plaintiff filed an
ECF No. 73.
ECF No. 75.
Defendant filed a
The Court held a
hearing on the Rule 60(b) Motion on March 13, 2017 at 11:00 a.m.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“Rule”) 60(b)(4)
provides relief from a final judgment, order, or proceeding
where “the judgment is void.”
Fed. R. Civ. Pr. 60(b)(4); see
also Dietz v. Bouldin, 794 F.3d 1093, 1096 (9th Cir. 2015).
“Motions to set aside a judgment as void under Rule 60(b)(4) may
be brought at any time.”
Million (Far E.) Ltd. v. Lincoln
Provisions Inc. USA, 581 F. App’x 679, 682 (9th Cir. 2014)
(citing Meadows v. Dominican Republic, 817 F.2d 517, 521 (9th
The Court initially scheduled a hearing on the Motion for
Writ of Possession and Ejectment. However, given the issues
raised in the instant Motion, the Court vacated the hearing
date, finding it necessary to consider the instant Motion prior
to considering the Motion for Writ of Possession and Ejectment.
ECF No. 69. The Court informed the parties that a hearing on
the Motion for Writ of Possession and Ejectment would be
scheduled on a later date as necessary. ECF No. 69.
Cir. 1987)); see also Elizares v. Taylor, Civ. No. 16-00580 HGRLP, 2016 WL 7326073, at *3 (D. Haw. Dec. 15, 2016) (same);
Inland Concrete Enterprises, Inc. v. Kraft, No. LA CV 10-01776,
2016 WL 7176692, at *26 (C.D. Cal. Aug. 24, 2016) (same).2
The Supreme Court has held that a Rule 60(b)(4) motion
“is not a substitute for a timely appeal.”
United Student Aid
Funds, Inc. v. Espinosa, 559 U.S. 260, 270 (2010).
“Rule 60(b)(4) applies only in the rare instance where a
judgment is premised either on a certain type of jurisdictional
error or on a violation of due process that deprives a party of
notice or the opportunity to be heard.”
void, . . .
“A judgment is not
simply because it is or may have been erroneous.”
Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).
courts considering Rule 60(b)(4) motions that assert a judgment
is void because of a jurisdictional defect generally have
reserved relief only for the exceptional case in which the court
that rendered judgment lacked even an arguable basis for
Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).
Defendant argues that, pursuant to Kokkonen v.
Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375 (1994), the Court
did not retain jurisdiction over the settlement agreement and
Therefore, contrary to Plaintiff’s argument, Defendant’s
motion is not untimely.
therefore does not have the authority to enforce its contents.
In Kokkonen, the Supreme Court stated that enforcement of a
settlement agreement is “more than just a continuation or
renewal of the dismissed suit, and hence requires its own basis
for [federal] jurisdiction.”
Id. at 378.
The Supreme Court
further held that federal courts, rather than state courts, have
jurisdiction over the enforcement of a settlement agreement if:
(1) there is an independent basis for jurisdiction; or (2) “the
parties’ obligation to comply with the terms of the settlement
agreement had been made part of the order of dismissal—either by
separate provision (such as a provision ‘retaining jurisdiction’
over the settlement agreement) or by incorporating the terms of
the settlement agreement in the order.”
Id. at 381-82; see also
Hajro v. United States Citizenship & Immigration Servs., 811
F.3d 1086, 1099, 1100 n.8 (9th Cir. 2016).3
The Court denies
The Kokkonen court further clarified:
When the dismissal is pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(2), the
parties’ compliance with the terms of the
settlement contract (or the court’s
retention of jurisdiction over the contract)
. . . may, in the court’s discretion, be one
of the terms set forth in the order . . .
[when] the dismissal is pursuant to Rule
41(a)(1)(ii) (which does not by its terms
empower a district court to attach
conditions to the parties’ stipulation of
dismissal) . . . the court is authorized to
embody the settlement contract in its
(continued . . . )
Defendant’s motion because there is an independent basis for
Accordingly, the Court need not address whether
the settlement terms were incorporated into the stipulation of
There is an “independent basis for federal
jurisdiction,” as the Court has diversity jurisdiction.
Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375, 382 (1994);
see also Colyer v. Traveler’s Ins. Co., 525 F. App’x 308, 313
(6th Cir. 2013) (holding that the district court had
jurisdiction to enforce a settlement agreement solely based on
diversity jurisdiction); Limbright v. Hofmeister, 566 F.3d 672,
674-75 (6th Cir. 2009) (“We join [the Seventh, First, and
Fourth] circuits and hold that a district court may rely on any
basis of jurisdiction to summarily enforce a settlement
agreement that produced the dismissal of an earlier federal
suit.”); Blue Cross & Blue Shield Ass’n v. Am. Express Co., 467
F.3d 634, 638 (7th Cir. 2006) (“As long as § 1332 supplies
authority to decide, the court may act without a fresh
complaint.”); O’Connor v. Colvin, 70 F.3d 530, 532 (9th Cir.
( . . . continued)
dismissal order (or, what has the same
effect, retain jurisdiction over the
settlement contract) if the parties agree.
511 U.S. 375, 381-82 (1994) (internal quotation marks
1995) (per curiam) (recognizing that diversity jurisdiction can
provide an independent basis for federal jurisdiction over the
enforcement of a settlement agreement).
Plaintiff is a citizen of North Carolina and Defendant
is a citizen of Hawaii.4
ECF No. 1.
The amount in controversy
exceeds $75,000, as the settlement dispute involves at least
ECF No. 35.
The Court, therefore, has diversity
jurisdiction over the dispute related to the settlement
See 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
Accordingly, the Court finds that Plaintiff’s domicile
is North Carolina and Defendant’s domicile is Hawaii and the
amount in controversy is at least $118,000, as evidenced by the
Mortgage and Promissory Note, and concludes that there is
diversity jurisdiction. The Court, therefore, DENIES Defendant’s
Rule 60(b) Motion to Set Aside Order Adopting Magistrate Judge’s
Findings and Recommendations.
Defendant argued in her Reply that Plaintiff’s domicile is
questionable; Defendant does not know whether Plaintiff’s
domicile is North Carolina, Hawaii, or both. The documents in
the record demonstrate that Plaintiff is domiciled in North
At the hearing, the Court noted that Plaintiff’s Complaint
asserted diversity jurisdiction based on Plaintiff’s domicile in
North Carolina and Defendant’s domicile in Hawaii. The Court
asked Plaintiff’s counsel to file an affidavit confirming
Plaintiff’s domicile. The Court then asked Defendant’s counsel
whether she had any objection to such filing, and Defendant’s
counsel responded that she had no objection. Plaintiff filed an
affidavit confirming that his domicile is in North Carolina on
March 17, 2017. ECF No. 79.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court DENIES Defendant
Rosario Mae Ramos’ Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) Motion
to Set Aside Order Adopting Magistrate Judge’s Findings and
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Honolulu, Hawaii, March 24, 2017.
Alan C. Kay
Sr. United States District Judge
Ruppersberger v. Ramos, Civ No. 11-00145, Order Denying Defendant’s Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) Motion to Set Aside Order Adopting Magistrate
Judge’s Findings and Recommendations
Plaintiff has requested for the Court to award attorneys’
fees and costs in responding to Defendant’s Motion. Given the
Court’s ruling, Plaintiff may file a separate motion requesting
such fees and costs and providing support for such relief, and
Defendant can have the opportunity to object to such request.
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