United States District Court, D. Arizona
HONORABLE JOHN J. TUCHI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
issue is Plaintiff Mendota Insurance Company's Motion to
Vacate the Court's January 19, 2018 Order (Doc. 133,
Mot.). Defendant has not filed a Response, and takes no
position with respect to the Motion.
filed this action in October 2016 pursuant to the Declaratory
Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201. In its Complaint,
Mendota sought a judgment from this Court that it validly
cancelled an insurance policy issued to Defendant, Shirley
Snage, prior to a car accident, which occurred on June 17,
2016. (Doc. 46, Am. Compl.) Snage later filed two
counterclaims against Mendota: (1) for a declaratory judgment
that her policy was in effect at the time of the accident;
and (2) for bad faith for Mendota's acts in denying her
claim. (Doc. 47, Am. Answer & Countercl.)
October 16, 2017, Mendota filed a Motion for Summary Judgment
on its Complaint and on Snage's counterclaims. (Doc.
102.) In response, Snage moved for summary judgment on
Mendota's Complaint and on Count I of her own
Counterclaim. (Doc. 108.) The Court reviewed the briefs, and
the evidence submitted in conjunction before ruling on the
Motions. On January 19, 2018, the Court denied Mendota's
Motion and granted Snage summary judgment on Mendota's
Complaint and Count I of her Counterclaim. (Doc. 120, Order.)
Shortly thereafter, Snage and Mendota reached a settlement
agreement resolving all remaining claims in the case. (Doc.
131.) On the back of that settlement, Mendota now moves to
vacate the Court's summary judgment Order.
Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) provides that “[t]he
court may relieve a party . . . from a final judgment, order,
or proceeding . . . for any  reason that justifies
relief.” Courts thus weigh “the consequence and
attendant hardships of dismissal or refusal to dismiss and
the competing values of finality of judgment and right to
relitigation of unreviewed disputes.” American
Games, Inc. v. Trade Prods., Inc., 142 F.3d 1164, 1168
(9th Cir. 1998) (internal quotations omitted) (quoting
Dilley v. Gunn, 64 F.3d 1365, 1370-71 (9th Cir.
courts proceed under Federal Rule of Procedure 54(b) when, as
here, a party seeks to vacate a partial summary judgment
order prior to the entry of judgment. Under Rule 54(b), a
district court may vacate an order when it is
“consonant with equity” to do so. John
Simmons Co. v. Grier Bros. Co., 258 U.S. 82, 91 (1922).
Although this standard is more flexible, see Persistence
Software, Inc. v. Object People, Inc., 200 F.R.D. 626,
627 (N.D. Cal. 2001) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b) advisory
committee's note to 1946 amendment), courts still look to
the Rule 60(b) standard when determining whether vacatur is
equitable, see Gardner v. CafePress Inc., 2015 WL
13427727, at *1 (S.D. Cal. Jan. 9, 2015).
Motion, Mendota offers little in terms of substantive
argument, suggesting merely that “the Court should
support the terms of settlement” between Mendota and
Snage. (Mot. at 3.) Indeed, Mendota concludes
that the fact that “there is no hardship in vacating
the Order . . . weighs in favor of vacating the Order.”
(Mot. at 4.) But the fact that there may be no hardship in
vacating the Order does make the converse true-i.e., that a
decision not to vacate the Order causes hardship. And,
Mendota has not argued that “it will be unfairly
prejudiced by the potential preclusive effect” of the
Court's Order in future litigation. See Persistence
Software, 200 F.R.D. at 627. Moreover, if the Court were
to vacate its Order here, it may actually “discourage
settlement” in future cases because “litigants
‘may think it worthwhile to roll the dice rather than
settle . . . if, but only if, an unfavorable outcome can be
washed away by a settlement-related vacatur.'”
Gardner, 2015 WL 13427727, at *3 (quoting U.S.
Bancorp Mortg. Co. v. Bonner Mall P'ship, 513 U.S.
18, 28 (1994)). The Court thus finds that the
“consequence . . . of dismissal” weighs against
vacating its Order. See American Games, 142 F.3d at
1168; see also Gardner, 2015 WL 13427727, at *3
(denying motion to vacate when the “parties do not
proffer a single valid hardship that weighs in favor of
brought this action; Mendota sought summary judgment; and,
ultimately, Mendota did not prevail. The Court has devoted
substantial resources to this case, particularly in resolving
the Motions for Summary Judgment. Thus, the Court declines to
vacate its Order.
THERFORE ORDERED denying Plaintiffs Motion to Vacate the
Court's January 19, 2018 Order (Doc. 133).
FURTHER ORDERED denying as moot Plaintiffs Motion to Vacate