Badillo v. Friends Trucking, Inc. et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER denying 24 Motion for Relief from Full Judgment Amount. Signed by Judge James K. Bredar on 1/9/2017. (krs, Deputy Clerk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
JONATHAN LUIS BADILLO,
FRIENDS TRUCKING INC., et al.
CIVIL NO. JKB-15-0707
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Now pending before the Court is the Defendants’ MOTION FOR RELIEF FROM FULL
JUDGMENT AMOUNT (ECF No. 24). The Plaintiff has responded (ECF No. 25), and the
Defendants have replied (ECF No. 26).
This case was closed nine months ago when the Court entered judgment in favor of the
Plaintiff in the total amount of $66,013.00. (ECF No. 23.) Now the Defendants have moved the
Court, pursuant to Rule 60(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, asking that the amount
of the Judgment be reduced on “equitable” grounds. (Defs.’ Mot. for Relief.) Specifically,
Rule 60(b)(6) authorizes the Court to relieve a party from a final judgment for “any other reason
that justifies relief.” Relief in this “catch all” category is exceedingly rare, see In Re: Guidant
Corp. Implantable Defibrilators Prod. Liab. Litig., 496 F.3d 863, 868 (8th Cir. 2007), and rests
on a highly fact-intensive balancing of finality and doing justice, see West v. Carpenter,
790 F.3d 693, 697 (6th Cir. 2015). Although relief under this provision is extremely rare, there
is some authority for the proposition that the provision is applicable in circumstances where a
defaulted client seeks relief from judgment on the basis of extremely gross negligence of, or
abandonment by, counsel. See Books v. Yates, 818 F.3d 532, 534 (9th Cir. 2016); but see Moje v.
Federal Hockey League, LLC, 792 F.3d 756, 758 (7th Cir. 2015) (indicating an abandoned client
is still responsible for his own conduct).
The Defendants have submitted an Affidavit in support of their request for relief. (ECF
No. 24-3.) The Plaintiff has submitted a Declaration as well. (Garcia Decl., ECF No. 25-2.)
After careful review of the entire record in this case and with specific attention to the respective
Affidavit and Declaration, the Court cannot conclude that equity requires the vacation or
amendment of the order entering judgment. The Court is persuaded that the Defendants were
given ample opportunity to address the merits of this litigation before default was entered against
them. Language barriers and other communication difficulties may have caused some confusion
on the defense side, but the Court is satisfied, particularly after carefully reviewing Mr. Garcia’s
Declaration, that the Defendants were well aware of the risks associated with not responding to
the lawsuit. Further, the Defendants were aware that the lawyer who had been advising them,
although she filed one motion in the case, was not actively representing their interests in the
litigation. The Defendants did not act when they should have. If they were neglected or
abandoned by their attorney (which the Court expressly does not so find at this time), they had
ample notice of that circumstance well before default ever entered, and within time to react
appropriately. The Defendants ignored or turned a blind eye to a deteriorating situation. This
circumstance leaves them with less than the clean hands they must have when seeking equitable
relief, and any request for relief under Rule 60(b)(6) is just that: a request for equitable relief.
Further, finality is an important interest here. This case was resolved many months ago
through entry of the judgment. Plaintiff has moved on, engaging a collections firm and seeking
assets. (Garcia Decl. ¶ 26.) Apparently, upon the discovery of an asset that might satisfy the
judgment, the Plaintiff finally got the Defendants’ attention and motivated them to join the
litigation. (Pl.’s Opp. to Mot. for Relief 2, 6; see also Yanez Aff. ¶ 8.) But it is too late. Rolling
back or modifying the judgment at this point is unjustified given all of the preceding
The Defendants’ Motion (ECF No. 24) is DENIED.
DATED this 9th day of January, 2017.
BY THE COURT:
James K. Bredar
United States District Judge
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