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Smiley v. Haynes

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division

September 1, 2017

AUSTIN SMILEY, Plaintiff,
v.
TIM HAYNES and ANDREWS AFFORDABLE MOVING CO., Defendants.

          ORDER

          SAMUEL H. MAYS, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Plaintiff Austin Smiley's January 19, 2017 motion requesting relief from the judgment entered in this matter on June 30, 2016. (Mot. for Relief from J., ECF No. 9 (“Mot. for Relief”); cf. Am. Br. in Supp. of Mot. for Relief from J., ECF No. 13 (“Br. ISO Mot. for Relief”).) On July 31, 2017, the Court ordered Plaintiff to file an additional brief in support of his Motion for Relief under Rule 60(b). (ECF No. 14.) Plaintiff filed his Brief In Support of Motion for Relief From Judgment on August 14, 2017. (ECF No. 15.)

         For the reasons discussed below, the Motion for Relief is DENIED.

         I. Background

         The facts are stated more fully in the Order dated July 31, 2017. (ECF No. 14.)

         Plaintiff initiated this action on October 1, 2015, by filing a Complaint for Trademark Infringement. (ECF No. 1.) The next day, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint for Trademark Infringement. (ECF No. 2.)

         Then there was silence. Plaintiff did nothing to pursue his case. The Court entered a Show-Cause Order on June 2, 2016, in which it directed Plaintiff “to show cause within fourteen (14) days of the entry of this order why this matter should not be dismissed for failure to prosecute.” (ECF No. 5 at 36.)[1]Plaintiff did not respond. On June 30, 2016, the Court entered an order dismissing this matter for failure to prosecute and a corresponding judgment. (ECF No. 6; ECF No. 7.)

         On January 19, 2017, JB Smiley, Plaintiff's new counsel, filed the Motion to Substitute and the Motion for Relief. (ECF No. 8; ECF No. 9; cf. ECF No. 10; ECF No. 11.) The Motion to Substitute represents that Plaintiff's prior counsel has been suspended from the practice of law and asks that Smiley be substituted as Plaintiff's counsel. (ECF No. 9 at 41.) The Motion to Substitute was GRANTED on July 31, 2017. (ECF No. 14 at 109-10.)

         Plaintiff's Motion for Relief asks the Court to vacate the Dismissal Order. (ECF No. 9 at 42; see also ECF No. 11.) Alt hough the Motion for Relief purports to be based on Rule 60(b), Plaintiff's brief addresses Rule 41(b).[2] Because the Motion for Relief does not address Rule 60(b), which would be the basis for a decision, the Court ordered Plaintiff to file a new brief in support of his Motion for Relief from Judgment. (ECF No. 14 at 109-110.) On August 14, 2017, Plaintiff filed the Brief In Support of Motion for Relief From Judgment in accordance with the Court's order. (ECF No. 15.)

         II. Standard of Review

         Rule 60(b) provides grounds for relief from a final judgment for enumerated reasons, including “mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(1). A Rule 60(b)(1) motion “must be made within a reasonable time . . . no more than a year after the entry of the judgment or order or the date of the proceeding.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(c)(1). “In determining whether relief is appropriate under Rule 60(b)(1), ” three factors control: “(1) culpability-that is, whether the neglect was excusable; (2) any prejudice to the opposing party; and (3) whether the party holds a meritorious underlying claim or defense. A party seeking relief must first demonstrate a lack of culpability before the court examines the remaining two factors.” Yeschick v. Mineta, 675 F.3d 622, 628-29 (6th Cir. 2012) (internal quotation marks omitted). Rule 60(b)(1) must be applied “equitably and liberally . . . to achieve substantial justice.” Williams v. Meyer, 346 F.3d 607, 613 (6th Cir. 2003) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         Courts can also provide relief for “any other reason that justifies relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(6). Rule 60(b)(6) “is a catchall provision that provides for relief from a final judgment for any reason justifying relief not captured in the other provisions of Rule 60(b).” West v. Carpenter, 790 F.3d 693, 696 (6th Cir. 2015). “Rule 60(b)(6) applies only in exceptional or extraordinary circumstances where principles of equity mandate relief.” Id. at 696-97.

         “Clients must be held accountable for the acts and omissions of their attorneys.” Pioneer Inv. Servs. Co. v. Brunswick Assocs. Ltd. P'ship, 507 U.S. 380, 396 (1993). “Thus, in assessing a claim of excusable neglect, ‘the proper focus is upon whether the neglect of [the parties] and their counsel was excusable.'” McCurry ex rel. Turner v. Adventist Health Sys./Sunbelt, Inc., 298 F.3d 586, 594 (6th Cir. 2002) (alteration in original) (quoting Pioneer Inv. Servs. Co., 507 U.S. at 397).

         III. ...


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