United States District Court, D. Kansas
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
E. BIRZER United States Magistrate Judge.
matter is before the Court on Movants Derek Casey and Amy Fellows
Cline's Unopposed Motion for Relief from the Court's
Disqualification Orders (ECF No. 191) and their Renewed
Unopposed Motion for the same relief (ECF No. 194). For the
reasons set forth below, Movants' motions are GRANTED.
January 2016, the parties to this matter consented to the
jurisdiction of the U.S. Magistrate Judge (ECF No. 90), and
this employment discrimination case was scheduled for trial
in February 2016. On the eve of trial, Plaintiff filed a
motion seeking disqualification of Defendants' counsel
(ECF No. 98). The basis of the motion was thoroughly examined
and need not be repeated here. After a formal hearing, this
Court entered an order disqualifying the law firm of Triplett
Woolf Garretson, LLC (ECF No. 110), including Mr. Casey and
Ms. Cline. The Court later denied motions to reconsider that
order and permitted Movants to proceed with an interlocutory
appeal (ECF No. 120). The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals
denied the attorneys and law firm's request for
interlocutory appeal, finding appellate review of the issue
must wait until after the entry of final judgment (ECF No.
interlocutory appeal was denied, substitute counsel entered
their appearances for Defendants and this case went to jury
trial in January 2017. The case was concluded on the merits
with a defense verdict on January 25, 2017 (Verdict, ECF No.
166, Judgment, ECF No. 167).
the trial, Plaintiff appealed the judgment (ECF No. 169),
both Defendants and Movants' filed cross-appeals on the
earlier disqualification order (ECF Nos. 179,
180). Until recently, the jurisdiction of this
Court has been suspended pending the Tenth Circuit Court of
Appeals' consideration of both appeals.
Motion for Relief from Disqualification Order (ECF No.
the appeal process, the parties engaged in mediation through
the Tenth Circuit Mediation Office. As part of that process,
Plaintiffs' appeal of the judgment was not resolved, but
the parties reached a verbal and conditional settlement of
Movants' appeal from the disqualification orders.
Pursuant to the conditional settlement, Movants agreed to
dismiss their cross-appeal and not enter an appearance on
behalf of Defendants, contingent upon the Court vacating its
disqualification orders under Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b).
conformity with the settlement agreement, on June 2, 2016,
Movants asked this Court to consider its Motion for Relief
from the order of disqualification (ECF No. 191). Because the
matter is on appeal, this Court reviewed the request under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 62.1 and issued an indicative ruling, finding
“no reason, at this time, to believe it would not grant
an unopposed motion” made after remand (Order, ECF No.
192). On June 26, 2017, the Tenth Circuit remanded this case
(Order of 10CCA, ECF No. 193) for the limited purpose of
allowing this Court to rule on Movants' request for
relief, and the issue is now properly before this Court for
seek relief from the earlier orders of disqualification under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b). Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(1)-(6), a party
may seek relief from a judgment or order for a number of
reasons, including mistake, newly discovered evidence, fraud,
or, under Rule 60(b)(6), for “any other reason that
justifies relief.” Because Movants ask the Court to
vacate its order due to the parties' settlement, their
request is examined under Rule 60(b)(6).
faced with a motion to vacate a judgment based upon the
parties' settlement, the U.S. Supreme Court found that,
although settlement alone does not justify vacatur of a
district court's decision currently under appellate
review, the decision by the district court is “an
equitable one, and exceptional circumstances may conceivably
counsel in favor of” vacatur of judgment upon the
parties' settlement. The district court has
“substantial discretion to grant relief as justice
requires, ” but vacatur is “extraordinary and
may only be granted in exceptional
determine whether circumstances are sufficiently exceptional
to support relief from judgment, courts in this District have
analyzed multiple factors. Of those factors, Movants contend
relief from ...