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Overton v. Uber Technologies, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

September 20, 2019

ARCHIE OVERTON, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
UBER TECHNOLOGIES, INC., et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION TO VACATE JUDGMENT Docket No. 103

          EDWARD M. CHEN, United States District Judge

         Plaintiffs Archie Overton and S. Patrick Mendel filed suit against the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) and CPUC Commissioners (together, the “CPUC Defendants”) for creating a licensing scheme for Transportation Network Companies (“TNCs”) which Plaintiffs allege is preempted by federal transportation law and violates their constitutional rights. Plaintiffs also sued Rasier-CA, LLC for “acting in concert with the Commissioners” to “avoid and subvert” federal transportation laws. Finally, Plaintiffs sued Uber Technologies, Inc. and its subsidiaries Uber USA, LLC, Rasier-Ca, LLC, and unknown Doe Defendants (collectively, “Uber Defendants” or “Uber”) under the Federal Motor Carrier Act (“FMCA”), 49 U.S.C. § 14102, and for several state law causes of action including breach of contract, fraud, and negligent misrepresentation.

         The various Defendants filed motions to dismiss Plaintiffs’ First Amended Complaint, see Docket Nos. 51, 59, and on August 3, 2018, the Court granted those motions to dismiss, see Docket No. 92. (The order granting the motions to dismiss was amended on August 8, 2018. See Docket No. 95.) On August 23, 2018, Plaintiffs filed a Notice of Appeal with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, see Docket No. 96 (USCA Case No. 18-16610); that appeal is still pending. On July 12, 2019, Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Vacate Judgment (“MVJ”) for Fraud Upon the Court in this Court. See Docket No. 103.

         For the reasons discussed below, the Court DENIES the Motion to Vacate Judgment.

         I. LEGAL STANDARD

         Plaintiffs bring this Motion to Vacate Judgment pursuant to Rule 60(d)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 60(d) notes that nothing in Rule 60 shall “limit a court’s power to . . . set aside a judgment for fraud on the court.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(d)(3). Thus, the rule vests significant power with district courts to vacate judgments for fraud on the court. However, the power of Rule 60(d)(3) comes with a cost for those who seek the avail themselves of its relief: parties moving “for relief under Rule 60(d)(3) . . . must show fraud on the court, rather than the lower showing required for relief [from fraud] under Rule 60(b)(3).” United States v. Sierra Pacific Industries, Inc., 862 F.3d 1157, 1167 (9th Cir. 2017), cert. denied, 138 S.Ct. 2675 (2018); see also United States v. Beggerly, 524 U.S. 38, 47 (1998) (describing the rule as having a “demanding standard”). The 9th Circuit has emphasized that “not all fraud is fraud on the court.” Sierra Pacific Industries, 862 F.3d at 1167 (quoting In re Levander, 180 F.3d 1114, 1119 (9th Cir. 1999)). To the contrary, “relief from judgment for fraud on the court is ‘available only to prevent a grave miscarriage of justice.’” Sierra Pacific Industries, 862 F.3d at 1167 (quoting Beggerly, 524 U.S. at 47). Thus, Rule 60(d)(3) presents a very high standard for those seeking relief.

         When evaluating a Rule 60(d) motion to vacate a judgment, “the relevant inquiry is not whether fraudulent conduct ‘prejudiced the opposing party, ’ but whether it ‘harmed the integrity of the judicial process.’” Sierra Pacific Industries, 862 F.3d at 1168 (quoting Estate of Stonehill, 660 F.3d 415, 444 (2011)). The fraud must rise to the level of an “intentional, material misrepresentation” and “involve an unconscionable plan or scheme which is designed to improperly influence the court in its decision.” Id. Mere “[n]on-disclosure, or perjury by a party or witness, does not, by itself, amount to fraud on the court.” Appling v. State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance Co., 340 F.3d 769, 780 (9th Cir. 2003). While “there is no specific set of facts that a petitioner must show . . . fraud on the court must be established by clear and convincing evidence.” Pizzuto v. Ramirez, 783 F.3d 1171, 1180 (9th Cir. 2015).

         Additionally, “the doctrine only allows relief from judgment for after-discovered fraud.” Sierra Pacific Industries, 862 F.3d at 1166. This is because “allowing parties to raise issues that should have been resolved at trial amounts to collateral attack and undermines ‘the deep rooted policy in favor of the repose of judgments.’” Id. at 1168 (quoting Hazel-Atlas Glass Co. v. Hartford-Empire Co., 322 U.S. 238, 244 (1944)). In instances “where the moving party through due diligence could have discovered the alleged perjury or non-disclosure, such fraud does not disrupt the judicial process and thus does not constitute fraud on the court.” Id. at 1169 (internal quotations omitted).

         II. ANALYSIS

         Plaintiffs assert that “defendants in this case . . . misrepresented the law and the facts before this Court.” MVJ at 2. Although their specific allegations about fraud and misrepresentation are wide-ranging, they can be broadly summarized as falling into four buckets:

(1) Although Plaintiffs argued in their First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) that Defendants were “making authority [i.e. laws and regulations] in excess of their lawful authority and in direct conflict with federal passenger transportation laws in violation of the Supremacy and Commerce Clauses of the United States Constitution, ” FAC at 2, Plaintiffs’ Motion to Vacate adds that “because California entered the federal MCSAP [Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program] [and received] grant funding [from it], ” Defendants are required to “comply [with] and enforce federal transportation law to receive the federal funds, ” MVJ at 2, 21. Plaintiffs argue that to suggest otherwise is a misrepresentation of the law. MVJ at 7–8.
(2) The Plaintiffs also allege that the Defendants “further misrepresented to the district court that the Commission had the authority, under California law, to charge PUCTRA fees on Plaintiffs ‘gross intrastate fares.’” MVJ at 5. The Plaintiffs allege that such authority does not exist and, thus, that arguments to the contrary are a misrepresentation of California law. Id.
(3) The Plaintiffs also state that “attorneys for Uber . . . made significant misrepresentations to the district court . . . on California law, Federal transportation and antitrust law and the facts as they knew or should have known at the time.” MVJ at 8. More specifically, the Motion to Vacate alleges that Uber “misrepresented to the district court that Uber was not a motor carrier because it owned no vehicles, and Uber was not a broker, but a technology company.” MVJ at 9, 17, 28.
(4) Finally, Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants made misrepresentations about Plaintiffs’ standing. MVJ at 22. More specifically, the Motion to Vacate asserts that Defendants made false allegations by arguing that Plaintiffs-because they did not drive for TNCs, were never required to get TNC licenses, and were not credibly threatened with enforcement of federal motor carrier laws-failed to demonstrate imminent injury. MVJ at 22–23. ...

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