Caruso et al v. Washington State Bar Association et al

Filing 57

ORDER denying Plaintiff Sandra Ferguson's 50 Motion to Vacate Judgment and Amend Pleading. This case remains CLOSED. Signed by Judge Ricardo S Martinez. (PM)

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  1 2 3 4 5 6 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AT SEATTLE 7 8 9 10 ROBERT E. CARUSO and SANDRA L. FERGUSON, 11 Plaintiffs, 12 Case No. C17-00003RSM v. 13 14 WASHINGTON STATE BAR ASSOCIATION, et al., 15 16 ORDER DENYING MOTION TO VACATE JUDGMENT AND AMEND Defendants. This matter comes before the Court on pro se Plaintiff Sandra L. Ferguson’s Motion to 17 18 19 Vacate Judgment and Amend Pleading, brought pursuant to Rules 59(e), 60(b)(1), 60(b)(2), and/or 60(b)(6). Dkt. #50. 20 On May 11, 2017, the Court issued an Order granting Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss 21 and dismissing all of Plaintiffs’ claims with prejudice. Dkt. #28. A judgment followed that 22 23 24 same day. Dkt. #29. On June 8, 2017, Ms. Ferguson attempted to file a motion similar to the instant motion. See Dkt. #38. The Court struck that filing as it violated Local Rule 25 83.2(b)(4)’s prohibition on parties from filing pro se without leave of the Court. Dkt. #42. Ms. 26 Ferguson subsequently obtained leave to proceed pro se. 27 28 ORDER DENYING MOTION TO VACATE JUDGMENT AND AMEND - 1   1 Ms. Ferguson argues in the instant Motion that “if the Court had granted leave to 2 amend, Ferguson could have cured the deficient pleadings.” Dkt. #50 at 1. Ms. Ferguson 3 presents substantial new facts and argument, and attaches hundreds of pages of purported new 4 evidence. Id.; Dkts. #50-2, #50-3, and #51 (and attachments). Ms. Ferguson argues that there 5 6 7 is “newly-discovered evidence,” and that she should be permitted to join Brian Waid as a defendant. Dkt. #50 at 10. Ms. Ferguson acknowledges that a motion under Rule 59(e) must 8 be brought within 28 days of the entry of judgment, but fails to explain how the instant motion 9 does not violate that deadline. See id. at 10. Ms. Ferguson briefly cites to Rule 60(b)(1) and 10 11 12 (2) as bases for her requested relief, but does not cite that rule’s “reasonable time” deadline or explain why the instant Motion satisfies that requirement. See id. at 11. Ms. Ferguson does not 13 discuss Rule 60(b)(6). Ms. Ferguson states via declaration that the facts on which she bases her 14 Motion are “facts which I could have alleged prior to dismissal of this case. . .” Dkt. # 51 at 1. 15 16 In Response, Defendants argue that “Ferguson’s ‘new’ evidence consists of descriptions of prior disciplinary matters and lawsuits personally involving Ferguson and dating back over a 17 18 decade,” and that Ms. Ferguson “ignores that raising a new legal theory at this late stage is 19 inappropriate, and that her lawsuit was dismissed for failure to state a claim, not insufficient 20 evidence.” Dkt. #53 at 2. Defendants also argue that the new evidence “lacks relevance or 21 weight and would not have affected the outcome here.” Id. 22 23 24 On Reply, Ms. Ferguson argues that her motion was “originally filed within 28 days of the Court’s entry of judgment on June 8, 2017.” Dkt. #55 at 5. Ms. Ferguson argues that some 25 of the new evidence was not always available to her, because it came from “two recent, 26 overlapping investigations of Ferguson which began in December 2015. . .” Id. at 5. Ms. 27 Ferguson further discusses the merits of her new arguments. 28 ORDER DENYING MOTION TO VACATE JUDGMENT AND AMEND - 2   1 Under Rule 59, a motion for a new trial or to alter a judgment “must be filed no later 2 than 28 days after the entry of the judgment.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(b) and (e). Under Rule 60, a 3 motion for relief from judgment based on newly discovered evidence must be filed “within a 4 reasonable time,” no later than a year after entry of judgment, and based on evidence that 5 6 7 “could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b).” Rule 60(b)(2), (c)(1). The Court cannot extend these deadlines. Fed. R. Civ. P. 6(b)(2). Vacating a 8 prior judgment under Rule 59 or Rule 60 is an “extraordinary remedy, to be used sparingly in 9 the interests of finality and conservation of judicial resources.” Carroll v. Nakatani, 342 F.3d 10 11 12 934, 945 (9th Cir. 2003); see also Lindauer v. Rogers, 91 F.3d 1355, 1358 (9th Cir. 1996). For relief from judgment based on newly discovered evidence, “the movant must show the 13 evidence (1) existed at the time of the trial, (2) could not have been discovered through due 14 diligence, and (3) was of such magnitude that production of it earlier would have been likely to 15 change the disposition of the case.” Jones v. Aero/Chem Corp., 921 F.2d 875, 878 (9th Cir. 16 1990) (internal quotes omitted). The test is the same under Rule 59(e) or 60(b)(2), except the 17 18 later deadline for a Rule 60(b)(2) motion “may require a stronger showing.” Id. 19 As an initial matter, the Court finds that the instant Motion is untimely under Rule 20 59(e). Procedurally, it is irrelevant that Ms. Ferguson filed a prior, stricken Motion within the 21 deadline. The Court further agrees with Defendants that Ms. Ferguson has failed to present 22 23 24 sufficient facts or argument showing that she could not have discovered the “new” evidence at issue within the deadline for filing a Rule 59 motion. Thus, relief under Rule 59 or 60(b)(2) is 25 unavailable. Based on the record, Ms. Ferguson had knowledge of the vast majority of the 26 evidence at issue for years before the filing of this Motion, and certainly prior to dismissal of 27 this case. Her attorney did not present this evidence. Defendants argue, and the Court agrees, 28 ORDER DENYING MOTION TO VACATE JUDGMENT AND AMEND - 3   1 that a motion to vacate “may not be used to . . . present evidence for the first time when [it] 2 could reasonably have been raised earlier in the litigation.” Dkt. #53 at 6 (citing Carroll, 342 3 F.3d at 945). Likewise, a party’s “failure to file documents in an original motion or opposition 4 does not turn the late filed documents into ‘newly discovered evidence.’” Id. (citing Sch. Dist. 5 6 7 No. 1J v. ACandS, Inc., 5 F.3d 1255, 1263 (9th Cir. 1993); Wallis v. J.R. Simplot Co., 26 F.3d 885, 892 n.6 (9th Cir. 1994) (rejecting “tardy affidavit” offered in support of reconsideration of 8 discrimination claim)). Ms. Ferguson’s passing reference to Rules 60(b)(1) and 60(b)(6) are 9 insufficient to obtain relief on those grounds. To the extent that Ms. Ferguson raises new legal 10 11 12 theories, such cannot be brought for the first time in a Rule 59 or 60 Motion. See, e.g., Carroll, 342 F.3d at 945 (“A Rule 59(e) motion may not be used to raise arguments . . . for the first time 13 when they could reasonably have been raised earlier in the litigation.”). Finally, the Court 14 notes that, even if it were procedurally proper to review the evidence and argument presented 15 by Ms. Ferguson, such would likely not be sufficient to change the outcome of this case for the 16 reasons articulated by Defendants in their Response. 17 18 Accordingly, having reviewed the relevant briefing and the remainder of the record, the 19 Court hereby finds and ORDERS that Plaintiff Sandra Ferguson’s Motion to Vacate Judgment 20 and Amend Pleading (Dkt. #50) is DENIED. This case remains CLOSED. 21 22 23 24 25 26 DATED this 31 day of July, 2017. A RICARDO S. MARTINEZ CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 27 28 ORDER DENYING MOTION TO VACATE JUDGMENT AND AMEND - 4

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