Rayford et al v. Karl Storz Endoscopy-America et al
MEMORANDUM RULING re 68 MOTION to Reopen/Reinstate Case Proposed MOTION to Set Aside MOTION to Set Aside Judgment MOTION to Vacate filed by Audrey Rayford, Darryl Rayford. Signed by Judge Terry A Doughty on 4/13/2018. (crt,Miletello, A)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
AUDREY RAYFORD, ET AL.
CIVIL ACTION NO. 15-2835
JUDGE TERRY A. DOUGHTY
KARL STORZ ENDOSCOPYAMERICA, INC., ET AL.
MAG. JUDGE KAREN L. HAYES
Pending before the Court is Plaintiffs’ Motion to Vacate Summary Judgment and/or
Motion for Relief from Judgment under Rule 60(b). [Doc. No. 68].
A Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 63] was filed by Defendants KARL STORZ
Endoscopy-America, Inc., and KARL STORZ Endovision, Inc. (“Defendants”) on March 7, 2018.
A Notice of Motion Setting [Doc. No. 64] was sent out on March 8, 2018, giving any party who
opposed the motion twenty-one (21) days from the date of the Notice to file a memorandum in
No party filed an opposition. The Court filed a Ruling [Doc. No. 66] and Judgment [Doc.
No. 67] granting the Motion for Summary Judgment on April 3, 2018.
On April 12, 2018, more than a week after the Summary Judgment was filed, the Plaintiffs
filed the pending Motion, [Doc. No. 68] in which they move the Court to vacate the Summary
Judgment and/or grant them relief from judgment under Rule 60(b). The basis for their motion is
the failure of their attorney to timely file an opposition to the Motion for Summary Judgment,
which was allegedly due to the failure of the attorney’s paralegal to calendar the Notice of Motion
Setting and the deadlines set forth therein. For the following reasons, the Motion to Vacate
Summary Judgment and/or Motion for Relief from Judgment under Rule 60(b) is DENIED.
Pursuant to FED. R.CIV.P. 60(B), the Court may relieve a party from a final judgment,
order, or proceeding for, among other reasons, excusable neglect. “Motions under Rule 60(b) are
directed to the sound discretion of the district court, and [a district court’s] denial of relief upon
such motion will be set aside on appeal only for abuse of that discretion.” Seven Elves, Inc., v.
Eskenazi, 635 F.2d 396, 402 (5th Cir. 1981).
The Fifth Circuit denied relief under Rule 60(b) in circumstances where the movant had
failed to respond to a motion for summary judgment due to its attorneys neglect in Smith v. Alumax
Extrusions, Inc., 868 F.2d 1469 (5th Cir. 1989), stating “Finally, we note that the district court
entered its summary judgment order in favor of Alumax and the union, not as a default judgment,
but on the merits of the dispute between the parties. Traditionally, Rule 60(b) has been applied
most liberally to judgments in default since the litigant in such cases has not had an opportunity to
adequately present the merits of his case to the district court. Seven Elves, Inc., 635 F.2d. at 403.
By contrast, the district court in the instant case ruled on the merits of the summary judgment
motions only after considering various evidentiary exhibits, albeit exhibits presented by Alumax
and the union, such as excerpts from Smith’s deposition, portions of the transcript of the arbitration
proceeding, and the written decision of the arbitrator. In sum, on the facts of the instant case, we
cannot say that the district court abused its discretion in refusing to find that Smith’s failure to
respond to the summary judgment motions of Alumax and the unions constituted excusable neglect
within the context of Rule l60(b).” at p. 1472.
Likewise, in the instant case, a summary judgment was rendered, and not a default
judgment. The record contained the merits of the Plaintiffs’ case, which was presented in their
various pleadings, including their Opposition [Doc. No. 16] to an earlier Motion to Dismiss. The
Court had the benefit of the entire record and carefully considered it to determine whether the
Defendants met their burden of showing there was no genuine issue of material fact, even in the
absence of an opposition from the Plaintiffs. [Doc. No. 66, p. 4].
An attorney’s failure to monitor the court’s electronic docket is not enough to constitute
excusable neglect. See Santos-Santos v. Torres-Centeno, 842 F. 3d. 163, 169 (1st Cir. 2016)
The mere fact that an attorney is busy with other matters does not excuse a neglect on his
part for the purposes of Rule 60(b); “a mere palpable mistake by counsel” or by counsel’s staff
does not constitute excusable neglect under Rule 60(b). See McDermott v. Lehman, 594 F. Supp.
1315, 1318 (U.S.D.C. Maine 1984).
An attorney is responsible for his or her staff. In the Court’s opinion, the failure of the
paralegal to calendar a date to respond to a motion for summary judgment (a task which was
evidently delegated to her by the attorney) is not “excusable neglect” for purposes of Rule 60(b).
For the reasons set forth, Plaintiffs’ Motion to Vacate Summary Judgment and/or Motion
for Relief from Judgment under Rule 60(b) [Doc. No. 68] is DENIED.
MONROE, LOUISIANA, this 13th day of April, 2018.
TERRY A. DOUGHTY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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