The Estate of JOANN MATOUK ROMAIN, deceased v. The CITY OF GROSSE POINTE FARMS et al
OPINION and ORDER Granting In Part and Denying In Part Plaintiff's 357 Motion for Relief. Signed by District Judge Linda V. Parker. (RLou)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
THE ESTATE OF JOANN MATOUK ROMAIN
and MICHELLE MARIE ROMAIN, in her personal
representative capacity of the Estate,
Civil Case No. 14-cv-12289
Honorable Linda V. Parker
THE CITY OF GROSSE POINTE FARMS,
DANIEL JENSEN, JACK PATTERSON,
ANDREW ROGERS, RICHARD A. ROSATI,
MICHAEL MCCARTHY, KEITH COLOMBO,
ANTONIO TRUPIANO, JOHN WALKO,
FRANK ZIELINSKI, RICKY GOOD,
THE CITY OF GROSSE POINTE WOODS,
ANDREW PAZUCHOWSKI, JOHN KOSANKE,
JOHN ROSS, KEITH WASZAK,
ANTHONY CHALUT, OFFICER JOHN DOE,
TIMOTHY J. MATOUK, JOHN DOE, and
KILLER JOHN DOE,
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR RELIEF
This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff’s motion for relief from this Court’s
July 10, 2019 order. In that decision, the Court amended an earlier order awarding
spoliation sanctions to Defendant Timothy Matouk by requiring Plaintiff’s counsel, rather
than Plaintiff, to pay the award. Plaintiff argues that the Court erroneously relied on
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60 as the basis for amending the order. According to
Plaintiff, the Court could not amend its earlier order because the case was on appeal.
Plaintiff also argues that the Court should not have sanctioned one of her attorneys, Keith
Altman, because he had not entered his appearance when the sanctioned conduct
occurred. The Court rejects Plaintiff’s jurisdictional argument but agrees that Mr.
Altman should not have been required to pay the sanctions.
Rule 60 allows a court to amend an order but curtails that right “after an appeal has
been docketed in the appellate court and while it is pending ….” Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(a).
However, that limitation only applies if the order the court seeks to amend has been
appealed. While certain decisions by this Court were on appeal when the amended
sanctions order was entered, there never was an appeal of the sanctions order. Stated
differently, the sanctions award was not an issue presented to the Sixth Circuit. “The
filing of a notice of appeal is an event of jurisdictional significance—it confers
jurisdiction on the court of appeals and divests the district court of its control” but only
“over those aspects of the case involved in the appeal.” Griggs v. Provident Consumer
Discount Co., 459 U.S. 56, 58 (1982) (emphasis added). “ ‘[A] timely notice of appeal
… does not divest a district court of jurisdiction over matters collateral to the main cause
of action.’” United States v. Gallion, 534 F. App’x 303, 309 (6th Cir. 2013) (quoting
AAA Venetian Blind Sales, Inc. v. Beaulieu of Am., Inc., Nos. 96-1108, 96-1844, 1997
WL 476517, at *4 (6th Cir. Aug. 19, 1997)).
Plaintiff also points out in her motion that Keith Altman had not yet entered his
appearance as her counsel when the spoliation at issue occurred. According to Mr.
Matouk’s motion for spoliation sanctions, the misconduct occurred during a meeting on
June 19, 2014, and involved Solomon Radner and Ari Kresch. (ECF No. 202 at Pg ID
3240.) Mr. Altman entered his appearance in this case in June 2016. (ECF No. 195.)
The Court therefore agrees that the amended order should not have held Mr. Altman
jointly liable for the spoliation award.
Plaintiff lastly asks the Court to set aside the order because her counsel has now
paid the sanctions in full. The Court does not see this as a reason to revoke its decision.
IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Motion for Relief from Order (ECF No. 357) is
GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART in that the Court only relieves attorney
Keith Altman from liability to pay Defendant Timothy Matouk spoliation sanctions under
the July 10, 2019 order.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
s/ Linda V. Parker
LINDA V. PARKER
U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated: October 11, 2019
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