Commercial Litigation and Arbitration

Does Rule 60(b)(1) Permit Relief from Judgment Because of Error of Law by Court? Circuit Split — Limited Scope of 60(b)(6)

United States Bank, N.A. v. Boardman, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 167388 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 26, 2012):

Rule 60(b) provides relief from judgment where one or more of the following is shown: (1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise or excusable neglect; (2) newly discovered evidence which by due diligence could not have been discovered before the court's decision; (3) fraud by the adverse party; (4) the judgment is void; (5) the judgment has been satisfied; (6) any other reason justifying relief. Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b). U.S. Bank cites subdivisions (1) and (6) in support of its motion.

Rule 60(b)(1) permits relief from judgment because of "mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect." Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(1). Though motions under this subsection usually concern mistakes made by the party seeking relief, the Ninth Circuit permits 60(b)(1) relief premised on an error of law made by the court. Kingvision Pay-Per-View Ltd. v. Lake Alice Bar, 168 F.3d 347, 350 (9th Cir. 1999); Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. v. E.E.O.C., 691 F.2d 438, 440-41 (9th Cir. 1982); see also 11 Wright et al., Federal Practice & Procedure § 2858.1 (2d ed. 2008) (noting circuit split).

Rule 60(b)(6) is a "catchall provision" that applies only when the reason for granting relief is not covered by any of the other reasons set forth in Rule 60. United States v. Washington, 394 F.3d 1152, 1157 (9th Cir. 2005). "It has been used sparingly as an equitable remedy to prevent manifest injustice and is to be utilized only where extraordinary circumstances prevented a party from taking timely action to prevent or correct an erroneous judgment." Id. (internal quotations omitted). A party "must demonstrate both injury and circumstances beyond his control that prevented him from proceeding with the prosecution or defense of the action in a proper fashion." Id. (internal quotations omitted). ***

Subsection (b)(6) "and the preceding clauses are mutually exclusive; a motion brought under clause (6) must be for some reason other than the five reasons preceding it under the rule." Lyon v. Agusta S.P.A., 252 F.3d 1078, 1088-89 (9th Cir. 2001).

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