Foster v. Cerro Gordo County et al
ORDER pursuant to 87 Opinion of USCA: Plaintiffs motion is hereby granted, consistent with this Courts prior indication regarding plaintiffs motion. (Doc. 79 ). Plaintiff has thirty (30) days within which to amend her notice of appeal. Signed by Chief Magistrate Judge CJ Williams on 09/26/2017. (jjh)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF IOWA
MARGARET RAE FOSTER,
CERRO GORDO COUNTY, an Iowa
Municipal Corporation, et al.,
Before the Court is plaintiff’s Motion for Extension of Time to File Amended
Notice of Appeal. (Doc. 77). Plaintiff requests “that the Court extend the time to file
notice of appeal in this matter to allow Plaintiff to file an amended notice of appeal
pursuant to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a)(5)(A), or to allow amendment of
the notice of appeal by operation of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 60(b)(1) or
60(b)(6).” (Doc. 77, at 1). This same motion was previously before this Court; however,
the Court denied plaintiff’s motion for lack of jurisdiction.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The Court adopts its previous factual and procedural findings as set forth below:
Plaintiff sued two groups of defendants. Plaintiff alleged a group of
Mason City Police Officers (City Defendants) used excessive force when
arresting her. Plaintiff also alleged a group of Cerro Gordo County
Sheriff’s Office employees (County Defendants) failed to provide her with
timely medical care for injuries the City Defendants allegedly inflicted.
Plaintiff brought both claims pursuant to Title 28, United States Code,
Section 1983, and also alleged various state law causes of action.
The procedural history in this matter is as follows.
On October 2, 2015, the County Defendants moved for summary
judgment. Doc. 37.
On January 28, 2016, the court granted the County Defendants’
summary judgment motion. Doc. 46.
On February 1, 2016, the City Defendants moved for summary
judgment. Doc. 47.
On February 24, 2016, plaintiff prematurely filed a motion under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) to alter or amend the judgment. Doc.
51. The court treated this motion as a motion to reconsider its order
granting the County Defendants’ summary judgment motion, and denied it.
On April 27, 2016, plaintiff prematurely filed a notice of appeal to
the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals (Doc. 63), seeking to appeal the court’s
order granting the County Defendants’ motion for summary judgment as
well as on the court’s order denying plaintiff’s Rule 59(e) motion.
On May 10, 2016, the court granted City Defendants’ motion for
summary judgment. Doc. 68.
On May 16, 2016, the court entered judgment against plaintiff, citing
the court’s orders filed on “1/28/2016” and “5/10/2016.” Doc. 69.
On May 23, 2016, plaintiff timely filed a notice of appeal to the
Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals on the court’s order granting the City
Defendants’ motion for summary judgment. Doc. 71.
On June 10, 2016, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed
plaintiff’s first appeal for lack of jurisdiction. Doc. 76.
On June 23, 2016, plaintiff filed the instant motion (Doc. 77), and County
Defendants timely resisted the motion (Doc. 78). On July 14, 2016, this Court denied
plaintiff’s motion for lack of jurisdiction, as a notice of appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court
of Appeals had already been filed. (Doc. 79). In doing so, this Court indicated that if
the Court had possessed jurisdiction over the matter, plaintiff’s motion would have been
granted. (Id.). The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals subsequently remanded the instant
motion back to this Court for decision under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 12.1,
which “permits a court of appeals to remand a case for further proceedings where a
district court has made an indicative ruling on a motion that was filed by a party after a
docketed appeal has divested the lower court of jurisdiction.” Foster v. Cerro Gordo
Cnty., No. 16-3195, slip op. at 3 (Sept. 20, 2017). Because this Court has previously
considered the merits of plaintiff’s motion, the Court adopts its previous indicative
decision as set forth below.
This Court previously held that, although it lacked the authority to do so, the Court
would have granted plaintiff’s motion had it been able to. (Doc. 79, at 9 (“If the Court
of Appeals remanded this case, this [C]ourt would grant plaintiff’s motion)). See FED.
R. CIV. P. 62.1(a) (“If a timely motion is made for relief that the court lacks authority to
grant because of an appeal that has been docketed and is pending, the court may: . . . (3)
state that it would grant the motion if the court of appeals remands for that purpose”).
As such, the following analysis is adopted from the Court’s previous consideration of the
motion, and the motion is now granted.
First, plaintiff seeks relief under Federal Rule of Appellate
Procedure 4(a)(5)(A). The Rule reads:
(5) Motion for Extension of Time.
(A) The district court may extend the time to file a notice of
(i) a party so moves no later than 30 days after the time
prescribed by this Rule 4(a) expires; and
(ii) regardless of whether its motion is filed before or during
the 30 days after the time prescribed by this Rule 4(a) expires,
that party shows excusable neglect or good cause.
FED. R. APP. P. 4(a)(5)(A). On May 16, 2016, judgment became final.
See Catlin v. United States, 324 U.S. 229, 233 (194) (a final judgment
is defined as one that “ends the litigation on the merits and leaves nothing
for the [district] court to do but execute the judgment”). Plaintiff therefore
had until June 15, 2016, to file a timely notice of appeal. Rule 4(a)(5)(A)(i)
allows a district court to grant additional time to file a notice of appeal if
the party so moves within 30 days from the time prescribed by FED. R.
APP. P. 4(a). Plaintiff’s motion seeking an extension of time was filed on
June 23, 2016, well within the permissible time.
Next, under Rule 4(a)(5)(A)(ii), the court examines if plaintiff has
shown excusable neglect or good cause. When analyzing excusable neglect,
courts should “‘tak[e] account of all relevant circumstances surrounding the
party’s omission,’ including: ‘the danger of prejudice to the [nonmovant],
the length of the delay and its potential impact on judicial proceedings, the
reason for the delay, including whether it was within the reasonable control
of the movant, and whether the movant acted in good faith.’” Fink v. Union
Cent. Life Ins. Co., 65 F.3d 722, 724 (8th Cir. 1995) [(alterations in
original)] (citing Pioneer Inv. Servs. Co. v. Brunswick Assocs. Ltd. P’ship,
507 U.S. 380[, 395] (1993)). The [C]ourt finds that plaintiff’s failure to
timely file a notice of appeal on her County Defendants claim constitutes
excusable neglect. Plaintiff did file for appeal, albeit prematurely on April
27th, due to a mistaken belief the court had bifurcated her case and that the
summary judgment order on the County Defendants constituted entry of a
final judgment as to that portion of the case. The length of delay here is
limited; there is no evidence that plaintiff did not act in good-faith; danger
of prejudice to the County Defendants is minimal; and ultimately, it seems
fair to allow plaintiff a chance to have an appellate court review this
[C]ourt’s rulings on all of her federal claims. As the [C]ourt finds
excusable neglect to be present, a discussion of good cause is unnecessary.
Second, plaintiff argues that Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
60(b)(1) and (6) provide alternative grounds to grant her motion (Doc. 77).
Rule 60(b) provides, in pertinent part: [“]b) Grounds for Relief from a
Final Judgment, Order, or Proceeding. On motion and just terms, the
court may relieve a party or its legal representative from a final judgment,
order, or proceeding for the following reasons: (1) mistake, inadvertence,
surprise, or excusable neglect; [or] . . . (6) any other reason that justifies
relief.[”] FED. R. CIV. P. 60(b)(1), (6). The United States Supreme Court
Rule 60(b)(1) . . . permits courts to reopen judgments for
reasons of “mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable
neglect,” but only on motion made within one year of the
Rule 60(b)(6) goes further, however, and
empowers the court to reopen a judgment even after one year
has passed for “any other reason justifying relief from the
operation of the judgment.” These provisions are mutually
exclusive, and thus a party who failed to take timely action
due to “excusable neglect” may not seek relief more than a
year after the judgment by resorting to subsection (6). To
justify relief under subsection (6), a party must show
“extraordinary circumstances” suggesting that the party is
faultless in the delay. If a party is partly to blame for the
delay, relief must be sought within one year under subsection
(1) and the party’s neglect must be excusable.
Pioneer, 507 U.S. at 393 (internal citations omitted). The same test is used
to analyze “excusable neglect” under Rule 4(a)(5)(A) and Rule 60(b)(1).
See Feeney v. AT & E, Inc., 472 F.3d 560, 562-63 (8th Cir. 2006) (adopting
Pioneer test for Rule 60(b)(1)); see also Fink, 65 F.3d at 724 (adopting
Pioneer test for FED. R. APP. P. 4(a)(5)(A)[ ]). Therefore, for the same
reasons as above, the [C]ourt finds that plaintiff has also shown excusable
neglect under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(1) as well. As Rules
60(b)(1) and (6) are “mutually exclusive,” and because plaintiff has not
shown extraordinary circumstances (as plaintiff was not faultless in the
delay here), relief under Rule 60(b)(6) is barred.
A district court’s authority to rule on a Rule 60(b) motion, however,
is limited once an appeal has been filed and docketed with a federal circuit
[T]he entry of final judgment narrows the district court’s
formerly plenary jurisdiction over the case to: (i) for the first
twenty-eight days after the entry of judgment, motions under
rule[ ] [ ] 60—the district court’s jurisdiction, while limited,
trumps that of the Court of Appeals during this time period,
and, even if a party files a notice of appeal, the Court of
Appeals will wait until after the district court has ruled on the
post-judgment motion to touch the case, see FED. R. APP. P.
4(a)(4)(B); (ii) after twenty-eight days, if a party has filed a
notice of appeal, motions under rule 60—the Court of
Appeals’ jurisdiction trumps the district court’s during this
period, and the district court needs the Court of Appeals’
permission even to grant a rule 60 motion; and (iii) after
twenty-eight days, if no party has filed a notice of appeal,
motions under rule 60.
See Lujan v. City of Santa Fe, 122 F. Supp.3d 1215, 1235 (D.N.M. 2015).
Additionally, the Federal Practice & Procedure treatise states:
Motion for relief from judgment filed after notice of appeal
may be considered on the merits and denied by the district
court, and a separate appeal can thereafter be taken; however,
if the district court wishes to grant the motion, movant’s
counsel should request the Court of Appeals to remand the
case so that a proper order may be entered, and, if the district
court does not obtain leave from the Court of Appeals, it is
without jurisdiction and cannot grant the motion.
11 CHARLES ALAN WRIGHT ET AL., FED. PRAC. & PROC. CIV. § 2873 n.
(3d ed. 2016) (citing Winter v. Cerro Gordo County Conservation Bd., 925
F.2d 1069 (8th Cir. 1991)).
(Doc. 79 (footnotes omitted). In its prior decision, this Court indicated that, if given the
opportunity, this Court would grant plaintiff’s motion. Now that it has been given the
chance, it grants plaintiff’s motion.
As previously stated, the Eighth Circuit did remand this case so that a proper order
may be entered, and this Court may now enter the order. For the foregoing reasons,
plaintiff’s motion is hereby granted, consistent with this Court’s prior indication
regarding plaintiff’s motion. (Doc. 79). Plaintiff has thirty (30) days within which to
amend her notice of appeal.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 26th day of September, 2017.
Chief United States Magistrate Judge
Northern District of Iowa
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