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Warner v. Cate

United States District Court, N.D. California

November 20, 2017

EARL WARNER, Plaintiff,
v.
MATHEW L. CATE,, Defendants.

          ORDER ACCEPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE; AND DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO ENFORCE SETTLEMENT.

          YVONNE GONZALEZ ROGERS United States District Judge.

         Before the Court is Plaintiff's motion to enforce settlement in this closed case, in which he states that he wishes to reopen this action on the grounds that Defendants have either breached the settlement agreement, or induced the settlement by fraud. Dkt. 57.

         The Court previously referred Plaintiff's motion to enforce settlement to Magistrate Judge Nandor Vadas (“the Magistrate”) for a report and recommendation. Thereafter, the Magistrate issued his report and recommendation in which he stated as follows:

The undersigned held a settlement conference in this case on May 23, 2013, at which the case was settled. (Doc. 52.) On June 28, 2013, the parties filed a Stipulation for Voluntary Dismissal with Prejudice of this action. (Doc. 53.) On July 15, 2013, Judge Gonzalez Rogers entered an Order Dismissing Action with Prejudice. (Doc. 54.) The Clerk entered judgment the same day. (Doc. 55.) Nearly four years later, Plaintiff filed the present motion for enforcement of the settlement agreement. (Doc. 57.)
Federal Courts are courts of limited jurisdiction; they possess only that power authorized by the Constitution and statue. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375, 378 (1994.) [F]ederal courts do not have inherent or ancillary jurisdiction to enforce a settlement agreement simply because the subject of that settlement was a federal lawsuit.” O'Connor v. Colvin, 70 F.3d 530, 532 (9th Cir. 1995) (citing Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at 379). Rather, a motion to enforce the settlement agreement is a separate contract dispute requiring its own independent basis for jurisdiction. Id. A federal district court retains jurisdiction to enforce a settlement agreement only when there is an independent basis for jurisdiction, or the district court expressly reserves jurisdiction, or incorporates the terms of the settlement agreement in the dismissal. O'Connor, 70 F.3d at 532-33 (explaining that a court's mere awareness and approval of the terms of a settlement agreement is insufficient to create ancillary jurisdiction).
None of these exceptions applies here. Plaintiff's motion claims a breach of contract, which is a matter for state courts. Kokkonen, 70 F.3d at 382. Additionally, the court's July 15, 2013 dismissal order does not expressly retain jurisdiction, nor does it expressly incorporate the terms of the settlement agreement. (Doc. 54.) The undersigned finds, therefore, that the court lacks jurisdiction to enforce the settlement agreement.
Moreover, even if Plaintiff's motion could be construed as a motion for relief under Federal Rule of Procedure 60(b), Plaintiff's motion is untimely. A Rule 60(b) motion must be made within a reasonable time, and no more than a year after entry of the judgment if the motion is based on fraud, misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party. Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 60(c)(1). Here, Plaintiff appears to argue that Defendants either breached the settlement agreement, or induced the settlement by fraud by changing the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's kosher meals vendor in April 2013. (Doc. 57 at 3.) But despite knowing of the vendor change in 2013, and choosing to withdraw from the kosher food program on May 24, 2014, Plaintiff did not file the present motion until 2017. (Id. at 5.) As a result, the undersigned finds that Plaintiff's motion is untimely under Rule 60(c). For these same reasons, the undersigned finds that Plaintiff's motion is untimely under Rule 60(b)(6).
CONCLUSION
Based on the foregoing, the undersigned recommends that the court dismiss Plaintiff's motion for lack of jurisdiction, or alternatively, as untimely under Rule 60(c) and Rule 60(b)(6). Any party may file objections to this report and recommendation with the presiding judge within fourteen days after being served with a copy. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), (C); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b); N.D. Cal. Civ. L.R. 72-3. Failure to file objections within the specified time may waive the right to review of the issue by the presiding judge.

Dkt. 61 at 1-2.

         Any objections to a report and recommendation must be filed within fourteen days of receipt thereof. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Civ. L.R. 72-2, 72-3. The district court must “make a de novo determination of those portions of the report to which objection is made, ” and “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see also Civ. L.R. 72-3(a) (requiring that any objections be accompanied by a motion for de novo determination).

         Pursuant to Civil Local Rule 72-2, Plaintiff must title his objections as a “Motion for Relief from Nondispositive Pretrial Order of Magistrate Judge.” The Local Rules further specify as follows:

The motion must specifically identify the portion of the magistrate judge's order to which objection is made and the reasons and authority therefor. The motion may not exceed 5 pages (not counting declarations and exhibits), and must set forth specifically the portions of the Magistrate Judge[']s findings, recommendation or report to which an objection is made, the action requested and the reasons supporting the motion and must be accompanied by a proposed order.

Civ. L.R. 72-2. In the event the plaintiff fails to comply with the foregoing, the Court need not consider his challenge to the magistrate's report and recommendation. See Tri-Valley CARES v. U.S. Dept. of Energy, 671 F.3d 1113, 1131 (9th Cir. 2012); (“Denial of a motion as the result of a failure to comply with local rules is well within a district court's discretion.”); Grove v. Wells Fargo Fin. Cal., Inc., 606 F.3d 577, 582 (9th Cir. 2010) ...


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