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Gunderson v. Corizon

United States District Court, D. Arizona

January 2, 2019

Jeremy Lawrence Gunderson, Plaintiff,
v.
Corizon, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          DOMINIC W. LANZA, UNITED SLATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pending before the Court is Defendants' Rule 60 Motion for Relief from This Court's December 6, 2018 Order (Doc. 29). For the following reasons, the motion is denied as moot in part and granted in part.

         BACKGROUND

         On December 6, 2018, the Court issued an Order noting that the deadline for filing dispositive motions had expired and no dispositive motions were pending, and therefore ordering the parties to file by December 20, 2018 a joint status report indicating the estimated length of trial and proposing at least two dates on which they would be available to proceed to trial. (Doc. 27.)

         On December 14, 2018, the two remaining Defendants in this action, Maureen Johnson and Nick Salyer, both represented by the same counsel, filed the present motion, explaining that the dispositive motion deadline had been missed due to a calendaring error and requesting (1) that the Court's December 6, 2018 Order be set aside, and (2) that Defendants be afforded the opportunity to file a dispositive motion, which was attached to the Rule 60 Motion as Exhibit A. (Doc. 29 at 6.)

         On December 20, 2018, Defendants timely filed the joint status report ordered by the Court. (Doc. 31.) Because Defendants have already complied with the Court's December 6, 2018 Order, the motion is denied as moot to the extent that Defendants requested that the December 6, 2018 Order be set aside. The remainder of this Order considers Defendants' request for an extension of the dispositive motion deadline.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Legal Standard

         Rule 60(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that “[o]n motion and just terms, the court may relieve a party or its legal representative from a final judgment, order, or proceeding [due to] mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect.” Rule 6(b)(1)(B) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that “[w]hen an act may or must be done within a specified time, the court may, for good cause, extend the time . . . on motion made after the time has expired if the party failed to act because of excusable neglect.” Here, although Defendants framed their motion as one seeking relief from the Court's December 6, 2018 Order, the main thrust of the motion is to request an extension of the dispositive motion deadline, and therefore the applicable Rule is 6(b)(1)(B), not 60(b)(1). Nevertheless, the standard for relief is the same for both rules, as both require a determination of whether there has been “excusable neglect.”[1]

         The Supreme Court has explained that “excusable neglect” can encompass mistakes and carelessness: “Congress plainly contemplated that the courts would be permitted, where appropriate, to accept late filings caused by inadvertence, mistake, or carelessness, as well as by intervening circumstances beyond the party's control.” Pioneer Inv. Servs. Co. v. Brunswick Assocs. Ltd. P'ship, 507 U.S. 380, 388 (1993).

         Whether the neglect is “excusable” is a flexible standard, “at bottom an equitable one, taking account of all relevant circumstances surrounding the party's omission.” Id. at 395. At a minimum, courts assessing whether neglect is “excusable” must consider four factors: “[1] the danger of prejudice to the [non-moving party], [2] the length of the delay and its potential impact on judicial proceedings, [3] the reason for the delay, including whether it was within the reasonable control of the movant, and [4] whether the movant acted in good faith.” Id. Failure to consider all four factors constitutes an abuse of discretion. Lemoge v. United States, 587 F.3d 1188, 1192-93 (9th Cir. 2009). No. single factor is determinative. Bateman v. U.S. Postal Serv., 231 F.3d 1220, 1224 (9th Cir. 2000); Briones v. Riviera Hotel & Casino, 116 F.3d 379, 382 n.2 (9th Cir. 1997).

         When assessing whether a failure to act was caused by “excusable neglect, ” a court may not impose per se rules. Pincay v. Andrews, 389 F.3d 853, 855 (9th Cir. 2004) (“We now hold that per se rules are not consistent with Pioneer . . . .”). There can be “no rigid legal rule against late filings attributable to any particular type of negligence.” Id. at 860 (affirming that a paralegal's calendaring error was “excusable negligence.”). Even when the reason for the delay is weak, where the equities favor excusing the negligence, the court must do so. Bateman, 231 F.3d at 1224-25 (reason for delay was travel, jet lag, and the time it took to sort through mail).

         Once a district court has considered and weighed all four Pioneer factors, and any other factors it deems appropriate on a case-by-case basis, the court has broad discretion to grant or deny the motion. Pincay, 389 F.3d at 859 (“[T]he decision whether to grant or deny an extension of time . . . should be entrusted to the discretion of the district court because the district court is in [the best position] to evaluate factors such as whether the lawyer had otherwise been diligent, the propensity of the other side to capitalize on petty mistakes, the quality of representation of the lawyers . . ., and the likelihood of injustice if the appeal was not allowed.”).

         II. ...


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