United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
W. Flanagan United States District Judge.
matter is before the court on plaintiff's motion to be
relieved from order awarding attorneys' fees pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b). (DE 116). Defendant
responded to the instant motion, and plaintiff replied. In
this posture, the issues raised are ripe for ruling. For the
following reasons, the court denies plaintiff's motion.
14, 2017, defendant filed motion for attorneys' fees.
After expiration of the response deadline, plaintiff moved
for an extension of time, which the court granted on February
28, 2018, directing plaintiff to respond by March 13, 2018.
Plaintiff failed to do so.
March 16, 2018, the court granted defendant's motion in
part, awarding defendant attorneys' fees on grounds that
plaintiff litigated the instant action in an unreasonable
manner. Specifically, the court noted:
Of particular concern is the way in which plaintiff litigated
this case regarding information about his own company. . . .
In response to interrogatories . . . plaintiff objected . . .
on the grounds that was the request was irrelevant and
privileged and refused to provide any information. In his
deposition, which the court had to compel plaintiff to
attend, plaintiff was still unable to identify the specific
amount of sales, revenue, or profits he earned stating
“you didn't ask me to bring those records, which I
could have, ” indicating these records exist but that
plaintiff refused to provide them in response to
defendant's requests for production of documents.
In his deposition, plaintiff testified that he had initiated
12-13 lawsuits and plans to file another action against
defendant if the court denies his motion to extend discovery;
following the court's denial of plaintiff's motion to
extend discovery in this case, plaintiff did just that . . .
it does not appear that plaintiff is willing to adequately
participate in the litigation he commences, committing
discovery abuses compounded by a litigation strategy that
entails filing new suits with the same claims against the
same defendants when plaintiff's claims are not resolved
to his satisfaction.
(Order (DE 104) at 8-9).
March 19, 2018, plaintiff filed an untimely response to
defendant's motion, arguing defendant was not entitled to
attorneys' fees because plaintiff was the true prevailing
party, as plaintiff had achieved his main goal of
“stop[ping] KABA from falsely marketing their EZ-Code
key machine.” (DE 105 at 10). Because plaintiff
responded after the court entered its order, the court
construed plaintiff's filing as a motion for
reconsideration of the court's March 16, 2018, order. The
court found plaintiff's claim to be the true
“prevailing party” immaterial, since it did not
award attorneys' fees to the “prevailing party,
” but rather awarded attorneys' fees due to the
unreasonable manner in which plaintiff litigated the instant
action. Accordingly, the court denied plaintiff's motion.
defendant filed declaration of attorneys' fees. Plaintiff
failed to respond, and the court entered order awarding
defendant $68, 393.49 in attorneys' fees August 8, 2019.
On November 1, 2019, plaintiff filed the instant motion to be
relieved from the court's order granting attorneys'
fees on the ground of excusable neglect.
Plaintiff's Motion for Relief from Order
60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorizes the
court to “relieve a party . . . from a final judgment,
order, or proceeding for, among other things, “(1)
mistake, inadvertence, or neglect; or (6) any other reason
that justifies relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b). Under Rule
60(b), a movant first must demonstrate that his motion is
timely, that the movant has a meritorious claim or defense,
and that the opposing party will not suffer unfair prejudice
from setting aside the judgment. See Robinson v. Wix
Filtration Corp., 599 F.3d 403, 412 n.12 (4th Cir.
2010); Nat'l Credit Union Admin. Bd. v. Gray, 1
F.3d 262, 264 (4th Cir. 1993); Augusta Fiberglass
Coatings. Inc. v. Fodor Contracting Corp., 843 F.2d 808,
811 (4th Cir. 1988) (per curiam). If a movant satisfies these
threshold conditions, he must then “satisfy one of the
six enumerated grounds for relief under Rule 60(b).”
Gray, 1 F.3d at 266.
plaintiff argues he should be relieved from order due to
excusable neglect. Specifically, plaintiff claims he mailed
his response to defendant's motion for attorneys'
fees March 12, 2018, for timely filing at the courthouse
March 13, 2018. However, “the court receiving
department rejected the urgent documents, ” and they
were not delivered for filing until March 19, 2018. (DE at
117 at 2). In result, the court construed plaintiff's
response as a motion to reconsider and evaluated it under
“[a]n entirely different legal standard, which in turn
proved fatal to [plaintiff].” Id. Plaintiff
therefore seeks relief from the court's order and
requests leave to file an ...