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King v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. Kansas

March 16, 2018

LISA M. KING, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, [1] Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          John W. Lungstrum United States District Judge

         This matter is before the court on Plaintiff's Motion for Relief from Judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(1) and (2). (Docs. 40, 41). The Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (hereinafter Commissioner) has filed her Response, Plaintiff has filed a Reply, and the matter is ripe for decision.

         I. Background

         On December 15, 2016, the court issued a Memorandum and Order affirming the April 29, 2014 decision of the Commissioner denying Plaintiff's application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits. (Doc. 28). Judgment was entered the same day. (Doc. 29). Plaintiff filed a motion to alter judgment pursuant to Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on January 12, 2017, which the court denied as unjustified on February 8, 2017. (Docs. 30, 34). Plaintiff appealed pro se on April 10, 2017, and the appeal was dismissed for lack of prosecution by the Tenth Circuit on August 3, 2017. (Docs. 35, 39). On January 26, 2018, Plaintiff's former counsel filed the Motion for Relief from Judgment at issue. (Doc. 40).

         II. Discussion

         As relevant here, Rule 60(b) provides that:

         On motion and just terms, the court may relieve a party or its legal representative from a final judgment, order, or proceeding for the following reasons:

(1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect;
(2) newly discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence, could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b).

Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(1-2).

         A court should grant relief under Rule 60(b) only in exceptional circumstances and the movant “must overcome a higher hurdle to obtain relief from a post-judgment motion than on direct appeal from a judgment.” Dronsejko v. Thornton, 632 F.3d 658, 670 (10th Cir. 2011) (quoting LaFleur v. Teen Help, 342 F.3d 1145, 1153 (10th Cir. 2003).

Rule 60(b)(1) provides for reconsideration of judgments only where: (1) a party has made an excusable litigation mistake or an attorney in the litigation has acted without authority from a party, or (2) where the judge has made a substantive mistake of law or fact in the final judgment or order.

Cashner v. Freedom Stores, Inc., 98 F.3d 572, 576 (10th Cir. 1996).

         When the mistake alleged is a party's litigation mistake, the court will deny relief where the mistake was the result of a deliberate and counseled decision of the party. Id. 98 F.3d at 577. “Similarly, Rule 60(b)(1) relief is not available for a party who ...


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