Davis v. Martinrea Hopkinsville, LLC
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER by Senior Judge Thomas B. Russell on 8/9/2017 granting 16 Motion to Set Aside Order of Dismissal and Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint. The Court's prior judgments in this matter (DN 14 ; DN 15 ) are VACATED. The Clerk is directed to REOPEN this case and FILE Davis's proposed amended complaint (DN 16 -2) as of the date of this Order. cc: Counsel (CDR)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY
CIVIL ACTION NO. 5:15-CV-00028-TBR
MARTINREA HOPKINSVILLE, LLC
Memorandum Opinion and Order
This matter is before the Court upon Plaintiff Michael Davis’s motion to set
aside this Court’s prior Order of Dismissal and for leave to amend his complaint.
[DN 16.] Defendant Martinrea Hopkinsville, LLC does not object.
the following reasons, Davis’s motion [DN 16] is GRANTED.
Michael Davis alleges he was unlawfully terminated from his employment at
Martinrea on account of his age. See [DN 1.] He filed this action in February
2015, represented at that time by attorney Andy Allman.
[DN 16-3 at 1.]
Davis’s behalf, Allman filed a joint stipulation of dismissal in May of that same
Accordingly, the Court dismissed Davis’s claims without prejudice
on May 22, 2015. [DN 15.]
In his present motion, Davis contends Allman dismissed his claims without
Davis’s knowledge or permission.
Specifically, he alleges that throughout 2015 and
2016, Allman intermittently assured him that his case was progressing, and would
likely be settled by the end of 2016. See [DN 16-3 at 2-3.]
According to Davis, he
did not learn that his claims had been dismissed until February 2017, when he
received a letter stating Allman had been suspended from the practice of law.
at 3.] Davis says he did not agree to settle his case against Martinrea, nor did he
ever receive the proceeds of a settlement.
[Id. at 4.]
For its part, Martinrea
claims that in May 2015, Allman emailed Martinrea’s counsel and proposed that
Davis dismiss his claims without prejudice.
It says no settlement agreement was
ever reached, and no money changed hands. [DN 17 at 2.]
Davis now moves for relief from the Court’s prior judgment pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(6).1
Pursuant to that rule, “the court may
relieve a party . . . from a final judgment, order, or proceeding for . . . any other
reason that justifies relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)-(b)(6).
“Relief under Rule
60(b)(6) requires a showing of extraordinary circumstances and must be made
within a reasonable time.”
Thompson v. Bell, 580 F.3d 423, 442 (6th Cir. 2009)
(quoting Gonzalez v. Crosby, 545 U.S. 524, 536 (2005); Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(c)(1))
In determining whether to afford relief, courts must “balance
numerous factors, including the competing policy of the finality of judgments and
the incessant command of the court’s conscience that justice be done in light of all
Id. (quoting Blue Diamond Coal Co. v. Trustees of UMWA Combined
Benefits Fund, 249 F.3d 519, 529 (6th Cir. 2001)). Additionally, “a Rule 60(b)(6)
movant must also satisfy three equitable factors required for Rule 55 relief: (1) lack
of prejudice to the plaintiff; (2) a meritorious defense; and (3) whether the
defendant's culpable conduct led to the judgment.” Cars of Shelbyville, Inc. v. First
The other subsections of Rule 60(b) are inapplicable. The Court entered its judgment more than a
year prior to Davis’s motion, eliminating subsections (1), (2), and (3). Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(c)(1).
Subsections (4) and (5) do not apply because the Court’s judgment is not void, nor has it been
satisfied, released, or discharged. Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(4)-(5).
1 Fin. Corp., No. 3:12-054-DCR, 2015 WL 6556217, at *3 (E.D. Ky. Oct. 29, 2015)
(quoting Export-Import Bank of U.S. v. Advanced Polymer Sciences, Inc., 604 F.3d
242, 247 (6th Cir. 2010)).2
The Sixth Circuit has previously granted Rule 60(b)(6) relief on the basis of
For instance, in Valvoline Instant Oil Change Franchising,
Inc. v. Autocare Associates, Inc., the court held relief was warranted when the
defendants alleged their attorney was “grossly negligent as well as being a thief”
and “continuously lied to them about the status of the case.”
173 F.3d 857, 1999
WL 98590, at *4 (6th Cir. Jan. 26, 1999) (unpublished table decision).
court found no “evidence that defendants were derelict in defending the underlying
Here, if Davis’s allegations regarding Allman’s conduct prove true,
his case would seem to be on all fours with the Valvoline case.
Allman’s actions, as
alleged by Davis, are the sort of “exceptional or extraordinary circumstances”
entitling Davis to Rule 60(b)(6) relief. Id.
On balance of the remaining applicable factors, the Court believes the
equities weigh in Davis’s favor.
First, Martinrea does not claim that it will be
prejudiced if the case is reopened.
Second, although the Court possesses only
minimal information regarding the merits of Davis’s case, it is worth noting that
Martinrea initially filed an answer, rather than a motion to dismiss. Lastly,
Of course, Rule 55 applies to the setting aside of a default judgment against a defendant. The
posture of this case is somewhat different, as it is the plaintiff who seeks relief from a prior
judgment. The Court sees no reason, however, why these three factors cannot be applied in a
similar manner to the case at bar.
Davis’s conduct did not lead to the entry of the prior judgment, and Allman’s actions
are not attributable to Davis in this manner. Id. at 5.
In light of the foregoing, and keeping in mind Martinrea does not object, the
Court believes Davis is entitled to relief from the prior judgment entered in this
case under Rule 60(b)(6).
Davis also seeks to amend his complaint and add Allman as a named
defendant in this action.
Rule 15 directs that “courts should freely give leave” to
amend complaints “when justice so requires.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2).
Additionally, “in the post-judgment context, [courts] must be particularly mindful of
not only potential prejudice to the non-movant, but also the movant’s explanation
for failing to seek leave to amend prior to the entry of judgment.”
McWhorter, 290 F.3d 795, 800 (6th Cir. 2002).
Here, Davis has shown good cause why the Court should grant him leave to
add a legal malpractice claim against Allman.
According to Davis, Allman
concealed the dismissal of this case from him for over a year.
Since discovering his
potential cause of action, Davis has not engaged in undue delay.
And once again,
Martinrae does not aver that it will suffer any unfair prejudice if the Court allows
Davis to assert his legal malpractice claim.
As for Allman, the Court does not
believe he will be unfairly prejudiced by defending Davis’s claim against him on its
Accordingly, for the foregoing reasons, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:
Plaintiff Michael Davis’s motion [DN 16] is GRANTED.
judgments in this matter [DN 14; DN 15] are VACATED.
The Court’s prior
The Clerk is directed to
REOPEN this case and FILE Davis’s proposed amended complaint [DN 16-2] as of
the date of this Order.
August 9, 2017
CC: Counsel of Record
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