Baker v. Union Pacific Railroad Company
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER - IT IS ORDERED that the defendant's motion for reconsideration (Filing No. 417 ) is denied. Ordered by Senior Judge Joseph F. Bataillon. (TCL)
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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEBRASKA
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD COMPANY,
This matter is before the Court on the defendant Union Pacific Railroad
Company’s (U.P.) motion for reconsideration, Filing No. 417, of that part of the Court’s
order dated June 14, 2022, Filing No. 415, that granted the plaintiff’s motion to file
certain settlement documents under seal, Filing No. 413.
In an earlier motion, Filing No. 409, U.P. moved for recusal, arguing that the
Court’s conduct in the Sanders v. Union Pac. R.R. Co., No. 4:20-cv-3023, had
adversely affected settlements in all cases before this Court involving U.P.’s Health and
Medical Services Department. Filing Nos. 409, 410. The plaintiff contended it was
unable to refute that argument without filing certain settlement agreements and sought
leave to file those agreements under seal. Filing No. 413. This Court denied the motion
for recusal and granted the motion to file under seal. Filing No. 415.
U.P. seeks relief under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(5) and (6), arguing
that the Court’s order denying U.P.’s motion to recuse rendered the settlement
agreements issue moot. U.P. again argues that the settlement agreements include
confidentiality provisions. The plaintiff counters that U.P has not met its burden to show
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that exceptional circumstances warrant reconsideration. He also argues that the bases
for the Court’s order are not moot because he is entitled to develop a full factual record
for purposes of appeal. The plaintiff submits evidence that none of the settling plaintiffs
have objected to the filing of the documents under seal. Filing No. 420.
In the Eighth Circuit, motions for reconsideration are “nothing more than Rule
60(b) motions when directed at non-final orders.” Anderson v. Raymond Corp., 340
F.3d 520, 525 (8th Cir. 2003)). Under Rule 60(b)(5), a court may grant a party relief
from a final order if “the judgment has been satisfied, released, or discharged; it is
based on an earlier judgment that has been reversed or vacated; or applying it
prospectively is no longer equitable.” Subsection (b)(6) provides for relief “for any other
reason that justifies relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(6). “‘Relief under Rule 60(b) is an
extraordinary remedy’” and will be justified only under ‘exceptional circumstances.’”
Watkins v. Lundell, 169 F.3d 540, 544 (8th Cir. 1999) (quoting Nucor Corp. v. Nebraska
Pub. Power Dist., 999 F.2d 372, 374 (8th Cir. 1993)).
“Rule 60(b)(5) may not be used to challenge the legal conclusions on which a
prior judgment or order rests, but the Rule provides a means by which a party can ask a
court to modify or vacate a judgment or order if ‘a significant change either in factual
conditions or in law’” warrants revision of the decree. Horne v. Flores, 557 U.S. 433,
447 (2009) (quoting Rufo v. Inmates of Suffolk County Jail, 502 U.S. 367, 384 (1992)).
The party seeking relief bears the burden of establishing that changed circumstances
warrant relief. Id. Likewise, relief pursuant to Rule 60(b)(6) authorizes relief only in
“exceptional circumstances.” Watkins, 169 F.3d at 544. “Exceptional circumstances
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are not present every time a party is subject to potentially unfavorable consequences as
a result of an adverse judgment properly arrived at. Rather, exceptional circumstances
are relevant only where they bar adequate redress.” Atkinson v. Prudential Prop. Co.,
Inc., 43 F.3d 367, 373 (8th Cir. 1994) (internal quotations omitted).
The Court agrees with the plaintiff that the defendant has not sustained its
burden of showing that reconsideration is necessary. Plaintiff is entitled to develop a full
factual record for purposes of appeal in the event the defendant appeals the recusal
order. The settling plaintiffs do not object to the filing of the documents under seal.
U.P. “opened the door” to the settlement agreements by relying on them to support its
recusal motion and cannot now be heard to invoke the confidentiality clauses in the
IT IS ORDERED that the defendant’s motion for reconsideration (Filing No. 417)
DATED this 1st day of August, 2022.
BY THE COURT:
s/ Joseph F. Bataillon
Senior United States District Judge
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