United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S RULE 60(B) MOTION FOR
RELIEF (DOC. NO. 179)
12, 2016, the parties filed a stipulation for dismissal of
this entire case with prejudice. See Doc. No. 177.
The stipulation was signed by Plaintiff and defense counsel.
See Id. Pursuant to Rule 41(a)(1), the case
terminated automatically with the filing of the notice of
dismissal. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(a)(1)(A)(ii);
Yesh Music v. Lakewood Church, 727 F.3d 356, 362
(5th Cir. 2013); Commercial Space Mgmt. Co. v. Boeing
Co., 193 F.3d 1074, 1077 (9th Cir. 1999); Wilson v.
City of San Jose, 111 F.3d 688, 692 (9th Cir. 1997);
In re Wolf, 842 F.2d 464, 466 (D.C. Cir. 1989).
Because the case terminated automatically, the Court ordered
the Clerk’s office to close the case on July 13, 2016.
See Doc. No. 178.
20, 2016, Plaintiff filed this Rule 60(b)(1) and (b)(3)
motion for relief. See Doc. No. 169. Plaintiff
explains that he participated in a settlement conference with
defense counsel, who is an attorney with the California
Attorney General’s office. See id. at ¶
3. Plaintiff states that he entered into negotiations with
the understanding that defense counsel was under a duty to
not disregard criminal activities of correctional officers.
See id. at ¶ 4. Plaintiff contends that defense
counsel was “advised” that one of the remaining
defendants committed perjury. See id. at ¶ 5.
Despite this knowledge, Plaintiff avers that defense counsel
used her authority to “aid and abet” the
perjury/violations of law and entered into the settlement
agreement. See id. As a result, Plaintiff contends
that the settlement agreement is null and void per California
Civil Code § 1667, because it is contrary to law. See
id. Plaintiff states that he did sign the settlement,
but he became apprehensive during the negotiation process and
decided to forego the settlement. See id. at
¶¶ 6, 7. Plaintiff states that as he was leaving, a
correctional officer asked for the settlement related
documents, and Plaintiff complied. See at ¶ 7.
Plaintiff states that he later received a copy of the
stipulation for voluntary dismissal from defense counsel, but
not a copy of the settlement agreement. See id. at
¶ 8. Plaintiff requests that any Rule 41 dismissal be
set aside because it is predicated on a settlement agreement
that is void due to defense counsel’s failure to carry
out her duty to see that all laws of California are
obeyed. See id.
has not shown fraud or mistake, surprise, inadvertence or
excusable neglect that would warrant relief under Rule 60(b).
Plaintiff has not shown that any defendant actually committed
perjury in this case or that defense counsel knew that
perjury had been committed. There is no discussion of what
false statements the defendant made, when the
“perjury” occurred, or whether any statements by
the defendant actually fit the definition of
“perjury.” Plaintiff’s bare legal
conclusion that a defendant perjured himself is insufficient.
even if there was perjury by one defendant, defense
counsel’s obligation would be to not place before the
Court or a jury that testimony. Defense counsel’s
obligation to represent her clients does not cease. Plaintiff
cites no authority that would require defense counsel to
refrain from negotiating a settlement of this case because
one defendant allegedly perjured himself. To the extent that
Plaintiff believes that criminal charges should be brought
against the defendant, that is a decision that rests with a
prosecuting attorney, not defense counsel. Any perjury
related criminal proceedings would occur in a case that is
separate and distinct from this civil rights lawsuit.
Plaintiff has failed to show that defense counsel committed
fraud. There are no allegations that defense counsel made
material false representations to Plaintiff or that he
detrimentally relied on any false representations.
Plaintiff cites no authority that shows defense counsel did
something that would void the settlement or that would have
prevented her from negotiating the settlement.
Plaintiff’s citation to California Civil Code §
1667, which generally attempts to define “unlawful
acts, ” is not convincing because it does not
specifically address this situation. Defense counsel’s
task and obligation was to represent all of the defendants in
this civil case. She did so by negotiating a settlement of
the entire action. No impropriety is apparent from simply
negotiating a settlement.
Plaintiff’s motion shows that he was aware of the
alleged perjury. Armed with this knowledge, he proceeded to
engage in settlement negations and agreed to settle the case.
If Plaintiff thought that the settlement or the negotiations
were somehow unfair or improper, he should have ceased
negotiating and not have signed the agreement. There is no
harm to Plaintiff that is apparent, nor is there any
discernable reasonable mistake.
Plaintiff wants the Court to void his settlement agreement
because he believes that it violates California public
policy. However, under California law, “unless it is
entirely plain that a contract is violative of sound public
policy, a court will never so declare. The power of the
courts to declare a contract void for being in contravention
of sound public policy is a very delicate and undefined
power, and … should be exercised only in cases free
from doubt.” City of Santa Barbara v. Superior
Ct., 41 Cal.4th 747, 777 n.53 (2007). As discussed
above, Plaintiff has not shown that this case is “free
from doubt.” Id Plaintiffs Rule 60 motion will
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:
1. Plaintiff s motion for relief under Rule 60(b) (Doc. No.