United States District Court, C.D. California
Ralph Loeb, Jill Pietrini, Attorneys Present for Plaintiff.
Joseph Lipari, Attorneys Present for Defendants.
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
CHRISTINA A. SNYDER, Judge.
Proceedings: DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO VACATE JUDGMENT (dkt. 12, filed April 3, 2014)
I. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
On April 2, 2008, plaintiff Life Alert Emergency Response, Inc. ("Life Alert") filed this action against defendant Lifewatch, Inc. ("Lifewatch"). Life Alert asserted claims for (1) federal trademark infringement under 15 U.S.C. § 1114, (2) violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a), and (3) unfair competition. Dkt. 1. In brief, Life Alert manufactures and services a medical alert device for the elderly, and contends that Lifewatch infringed its rights in certain trademarks relating to the phrase "Help, I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up." Compl. ¶¶ 14-17.
On May 2, 2008, Life Alert requested that the Clerk enter default against Lifewatch. Dkt. 5. On May 5, 2008, the Clerk entered default. Dkt. 6. Life Alert subsequently moved for a default judgment. Dkt. 8. On August 25, 2008, the Court granted Life Alert's motion, and entered a final judgment and permanent injunction against Lifewatch. Dkts. 9-11. On April 3, 2014, defendant moved to vacate the default judgment and permanent injunction. Dkt. 12. Plaintiff filed it opposition on April 21, 2014, dkt. 15, and plaintiff replied on April 28, 2014, dkt. 16. On May 19, 2014, the Court held a hearing. After considering the parties' arguments, the Court finds and concludes as follows.
II. LEGAL STANDARD
Under Rule 60(b), the court may grant reconsideration of a final judgment and any order based on: "(1) mistake, surprise, or excusable neglect; (2) newly discovered evidence; (3) fraud; (4) a void judgment; (5) a satisfied or discharged judgment; or (6) extraordinary circumstances which would justify relief." School Dist. No. 1J, Multnomah County, Or. v. ACandS, Inc. , 5 F.3d 1255, 1263 (9th Cir. 1993). Rule 60(b)(4) provides for relief from judgment on the basis that a judgment is void. An incorrectly decided judgment is not itself sufficient to render a judgment void. United Student Aid Funds, Inc. v. Espinosa , 559 U.S. 260 (2010). "Rule 60(b)(4) applies only in the rare instance where a judgment is premised either on a certain type of jurisdictional error or on a violation of due process that deprives a party of notice or the opportunity to be heard." Id.
Under Rule 60(b)(6), the so-called catch-all provision, the party seeking relief "must demonstrate both injury and circumstances beyond his control that prevented him from proceeding with the action in a proper fashion." Latshaw v. Trainer Wortham & Co., Inc. , 452 F.3d 1097, 1103 (9th Cir. 2006). In addition, the Ninth Circuit recently confirmed that "[t]o receive relief under Rule 60(b)(6), a party must demonstrate extraordinary circumstances which prevented or rendered him unable to prosecute his case." Lal v. California , 610 F.3d 518, 524 (9th Cir. 2010). This Rule must be "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 . (quoting United States v. Washington , 394 F.3d 1152, 1157 (9th Cir. 2005)). Any Rule 60(b) motion must be brought within a reasonable time and, in certain circumstances, no later than one year after entry of judgment or the order being challenged. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(c)(1).
Defendant contends that it was never served with the summons and complaint. Plaintiff's proof of service shows that service was made upon an individual named Carlos Ahunamada. Dkt. 3. Defendant avers that no one by this name has ever been employed or affiliated with Lifewatch. Sirlin Decl. ¶¶ 3-6. Defendant states that it therefore never received proper notice of this action, the entry of default, or the final judgment and permanent injunction. Accordingly, defendant argues that the judgment and permanent injunction should be vacated pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(4) and 60(b)(6).
A. Rule 60(b)(4)
Beginning with defendant's motion under Rule 60(b)(4), the Court finds that the judgment should not be vacated under Rule 60(b)(4), which applies when "the judgment is void." Defendant argues that the "judgment is void" under Rule 60(b)(4) because it was not properly served with the summons and complaint, and this Court thus lacks personal jurisdiction over defendant. Plaintiff's proof of service indicates that service of the summons and complaint was effectuated on April 3, 2008, upon an individual named Carlos Ahunamada, located at 1344 Broadway, Suite 106, Hewlett, NY. Dkt. 3. Defendant states that (1) it has never done business at that location, mot. 1, (2) that it has never employed an individual named Carlos Ahunamada, Sirlin Decl. ¶¶ 3-6, and (3) that ...