holding that the specific court which is the victim of the fraud is the only court that can reconsider its own judgmentsSummary of this case from Williams v. Vaughn
February 20, 1969.
Anton Dimitroff, Indianapolis, Ind., Barnes, Hickam, Pantzer Boyd, Indianapolis, Ind., of counsel, for plaintiff-appellant.
John W. Edwards, William A. Carroll, Columbus, Ohio, for defendant-appellee, Chastang Carroll, Columbus, Ohio, of counsel.
Before KILEY, FAIRCHILD and KERNER, Circuit Judges.
Plaintiff filed suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana to enjoin enforcement of a judgment obtained by the defendant in United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The District Court dismissed the complaint and plaintiff appeals.
In 1953, Donellan, the defendant herein, filed suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against Trylon Metals, Inc., John Buckley and Albert Taft, the plaintiff herein, to recover the cost of merchandise shipped to Trylon on the basis of certain misrepresentations. The marshal's return of service showed personal service on Taft. However, Taft did not appear. As a result, a default judgment was entered against Taft in 1953 in the amount of $9,423.16.
In 1966, Donellan sought to revive and enforce the judgment in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. Taft opposed revival by filing a motion to vacate under Rule 60(b) of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which motion was denied.
Rule 60. Relief from Judgment or Order
The Ohio District Court found that the judgment was on file and, therefore, there was jurisdiction to revive.
In November of 1966 Taft brought an action in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois under Rule 60(b) to vacate the default judgment. The court denied the motion for failure to comply with local Rule 7, designation of a member of the local bar to receive service. A motion to vacate that order was also denied.
Taft had appointed local counsel but the Clerk's office made a mistake in recording it.
Taft, then, filed this action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana to enjoin enforcement of the judgment and to award Taft $5,000 compensatory damages and $5,000 punitive damages. Taft appeals from the granting of defendant's motion to dismiss.
In the first complaint, Taft failed to include the claims for damages and the defendant filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. Taft, then, amended his complaint to include a count for damages.
Plaintiff has an adequate remedy at law and since he failed to exhaust his legal remedies under Rule 60(b)(4), he should not be allowed to bring an equitable action in another jurisdiction.
Plaintiff attacks the 1953 judgment on two bases: lack of jurisdiction over the person and fraud on the court. Certainly, under F.R.Civ. Pro. 60(b)(4), plaintiff may attack the judgment for lack of jurisdiction over the person at any time since a judgment rendered without jurisdiction over the person would be void. While a signed return showing service by the marshal is prima facie evidence of valid service, a party may still have his day in court to prove otherwise. Hicklin v. Edwards, 226 F.2d 410 (8th Cir. 1955). While plaintiff does not have an adequate remedy under Rule 60(b)(3) for fraud, Rule 60(b) does not "limit the power of the court * * * to set aside a judgment for fraud upon the court." Such motion must be brought in the court which rendered the original judgment. 7 Moore, Federal Practice ¶ 60.33 at 504-05 (2d ed. 1968).
Under Rule 60(b) a motion to upset a judgment for fraud may only be brought within a year after judgment is rendered.
Therefore, since plaintiff has an adequate remedy at law, this equitable cause of action must be dismissed.
Plaintiff's claim for compensatory and punitive damages is based on his success in voiding the prior judgment and must therefore be dismissed.