USA v. Higgins
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER, Granting 45 MOTION to Vacate 42 Clerk's Judgment filed by USA. Telephone Status Conference set for 8/16/2013 09:00 AM before Judge J. Phil Gilbert. Signed by Judge J. Phil Gilbert on 7/31/2013. (jdh)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
ROBERT M. HIGGINS; CHICAGO TITLE
LAND TRUST CO., as the Successor Trustee of
THE BANK OF EDWARDSVILLE u/t/a No.
3627; TERRY D. BLASA REVOCABLE
LIVING TRUST; CLAY COUNTY, ILLINOIS;
and FARM CREDIT SERVICES OF ILLINOIS,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter comes before the Court on the motion of the plaintiff United States of America
to vacate the judgment in this case pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and (6)
(Doc. 45). No defendant has responded to the motion.
It is well settled that Rule 60(b) relief is an extraordinary remedy and is granted only in
exceptional circumstances. McCormick v. City of Chicago, 230 F.3d 319, 327 (7th Cir. 2000)
(citing Dickerson v. Board of Educ., 32 F.3d 1114, 1116 (7th Cir. 1994)). Rule 60(b) allows a
court “to address mistakes attributable to special circumstances and not merely to erroneous
applications of law.” Russell v. Delco Remy Div. of GMC, 51 F.3d 746, 749 (7th Cir. 1995). The
rule authorizes a Court to grant relief from judgment for the specific reasons listed in the rule but
does not authorize action in response to general pleas for relief. See Young v. Murphy, 161 F.R.D.
61, 62 (N.D. Ill. 1995).
In the case at bar, the Court entered judgment after having been informed by the parties that
this matter had settled and after allowing the parties sixty days to consummate the settlement, at
which time the Court would dismiss the case with prejudice (Doc. 41). The Court informed the
parties at the time they communicated their settlement to the Court that if they needed more than
sixty days, they could petition the Court to delay entry of judgment until a later date. The Court
did not hear from either party within those sixty days, so it entered judgment of dismissal with
prejudice on July 9, 2013 (Doc. 42). It appears from the pending motion that the parties have
been unable to consummate the settlement in a timely fashion as they contemplated at the time of
the settlement and that the failure to notify the Court of this within the sixty-day window was due
to counsel’s excusable neglect.
Excusable neglect can justify relief under Rule 60(b)(1). It can include omissions through
an attorney’s carelessness and mistake. Robb v. Norfolk & Western Ry., 122 F.3d 354, 359 (7th
Cir. 1997) (attorney’s negligence in meeting summary judgment briefing deadline may be
excusable neglect) (citing In re Bulic, 997 F.2d 299, 302 (7th Cir. 1993)); see Pioneer Inv. Servs.
Co. v. Brunswick Assocs. Ltd., 507 U.S. 380, 388-89 (1993) (“excusable neglect” in bankruptcy
context). A court should determine whether an attorney’s neglect is excusable by weighing the
equities, taking into account all of the relevant circumstances including the danger of prejudice to
the opposing party, the length of and reason for the delay, the potential impact on judicial
proceedings, and whether the negligent party acted in good faith. Pioneer, 507 U.S. at 395; In re
Bulic, 997 F.2d at 302. The court has discretion to determine whether neglect is excusable.
Robb, 122 F.3d at 361.
Here, it appears the failure to contact the Court in a timely manner prior to entry of
judgment was an oversight. Counsel for the United States sought to vacate the judgment
promptly in order to obtain a just result – the resolution of this case as to defendant Robert Higgins,
who has been defaulted, in accordance with his stipulation. It further appears that vacating the
judgment will cause no prejudice to the defendants. Accordingly, the Court GRANTS the
motion to vacate (Doc. 45), VACATES the judgment in this case (Doc. 42) and ORDERS that a
telephone status conference for all non-defaulted parties in this case shall be held on August 16,
2013, at 9 a.m. to discuss how to proceed. The parties shall call the Court at 618-439-7733.
The Court DIRECTS the Clerk of Court to send a copy of this order to defendant Higgins.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED: July 31, 2013
s/J. Phil Gilbert
J. PHIL GILBERT
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