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Sapp v. City of Brooklyn Park

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

November 6, 2017

Richard Sapp, Plaintiff,
v.
City of Brooklyn Park; John and Jane Does 1-200 acting in their individual capacity as supervisors, officers, deputies, staff, investigators, employees or agents of the other governmental agencies; Department of Public Safety Does 1-30 acting in their individual capacity as officers, supervisors, staff, employees, independent contractors or agents of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety; and Entity Does 1-50 including cities, counties, municipalities, and other entities sited in Minnesota, Defendants.

          Jeffrey M. Montpetit, Esq., and Susan M. Holden, Esq., SiebenCarey, P.A.; and Lorenz F. Fett, Jr., Esq., Sonia L. Miller-Van Oort, Esq., and Jonathan A. Strauss, Esq., Sapientia Law Group PLLC, counsel for Plaintiff.

          Jon K. Iverson, Esq., Stephanie A. Angolkar, Esq., and Susan M. Tindal, Esq., Iverson Reuvers Condon, counsel for Defendants City of Baudette, City of Big Lake, City of Brooklyn Park, City of Buffalo Lake, City of Burnsville, City of Golden Valley, City of Inver Grove Heights, City of Thief River Falls, City of White Bear Lake, and City of Woodbury.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          DONOVAN W. FRANK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         INTRODUCTION

         This matter is before the Court on a Motion for Relief from Judgment by City of Baudette, City of Big Lake, City of Brooklyn Park, City of Buffalo Lake, City of Burnsville, City of Golden Valley, City of Inver Grove Heights, City of Thief River Falls, City of White Bear Lake, and City of Woodbury (collectively, the “City Defendants”). (Doc. No. 69.) For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff initiated this lawsuit on March 25, 2015. (Doc. No. 1.) Plaintiff asserts a single count against all Defendants for alleged violations of the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (“DPPA”), 18 U.S.C. §§ 2721-25. (See Id. ¶¶ 334-55.) On March 28, 2016, the Court granted multiple motions to dismiss (primarily on statute-of-limitations grounds), dismissing claims against numerous Defendants in this matter. (See generally Doc. No. 60.) The Court also concluded that Plaintiff asserted plausible claims against the City of Brooklyn Park based on two timely lookups of Plaintiff's information. (See Id. at 13-17.)

         On April 19, 2016, the City Defendants tendered a Rule 68 Offer of Judgment to Plaintiff which Plaintiff accepted on May 2, 2016. (See Doc. Nos. 66 & 66-1.) The City Defendants' Offer of Judgment stated that:

Acceptance of the Rule 68 Offer will terminate all proceedings before the Court and any and all potential appeals of dismissed claims and allow Plaintiff's counsel to petition the Court for reasonable costs and attorney's fees solely attributed to these Defendants, incurred to date, as determined recoverable under 18 U.S.C. § 2724.

(Doc. No. 66 at 2.) On May 2, 2016, Plaintiff filed a letter notifying the Court of the parties' settlement and noting that “a term of the Rule 68 Offer of Judgment is that the Plaintiff will petition Judge Frank for reasonable attorneys' fees and costs.” (Doc. No. 64.) On May 4, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Notice of Acceptance, and the Clerk entered Judgment in Plaintiff's favor against the City Defendants for $5, 015.51. (Doc. Nos. 66, 66-1, & 67.) Plaintiff has not filed a motion for attorney fees and costs.

         On May 5, 2017, the City Defendants filed the Motion for Relief From Judgment presently before the Court. (Doc. No. 69.) The City Defendants assert they are entitled to relief from judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(5) because the Judgment has been satisfied. In connection with their Motion, the City Defendants have submitted documentation demonstrating that they tendered a check to Plaintiff in the amount of $5, 015.51 on August 11, 2016 which cleared on August 18, 2016. (See Doc. No. 72 (“Angolkar Aff.”) ¶ 2, Ex. 1 & ¶ 3, Ex. 2.) The City Defendants also provide evidence of attempts by counsel to obtain a signed Satisfaction of Judgment from Plaintiff's counsel via e-mail on September 22, 2016 and April 27, 2017. (Angolkar Aff. ¶ 4, Ex. 3 & ¶ 5, Ex. 4.) Plaintiff's counsel did not respond to these e-mails. (See Angolkar Aff. ¶¶ 4, 5.)

         DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff opposes the City Defendants' Motion. Plaintiff does not dispute that a $5, 015.51 check was issued on August 10, 2016 and cleared on August 18, 2016 or that counsel for the City Defendants e-mailed Plaintiff's counsel regarding a Satisfaction of Judgment on September 22, 2016 and April 27, 2017. Indeed, Plaintiff expressly stipulates to the facts outlined in the City Defendants' memorandum.[1] However, Plaintiff asks the Court to deny the City Defendants' Motion and permit Plaintiff to petition for attorney fees. Plaintiff states, “Plaintiff's counsel fully acknowledges that through its own inadvertence, mistake and carelessness, they - Sieben/Sapientia - have failed to timely file a motion for attorneys' fees.” (Doc. No. 74 at 2.) Invoking Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 6(b)(2), Plaintiff argues that the Court should permit Plaintiff to file an untimely motion based on the “recognized exceptions to deadlines outlined in Rule 54(d)(2), one of which is carelessness.” (Id. (quotation marks omitted).) In other words, Plaintiff asks the Court to determine that counsel's conduct constitutes excusable neglect under the circumstances such that the City Defendants' motion should be denied. The City Defendants argue that Plaintiff has waived any claim for attorney fees given the length of time that has passed since the Clerk entered Judgment. According to the City Defendants, “there is no just reason for delay of entering a satisfaction of judgment, ” and they ask the Court to do so. (Doc. No. 71 at 3.)

         “On motion and just terms, the court may relieve a party . . . from a final judgment . . . [if] the judgment has been satisfied, released or discharged . . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(5). A motion for relief from judgment under this rule must be brought “within a reasonable time.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(c)(1). Whether to grant such a motion is within the court's ...


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