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Fout v. EQT Production Co.

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia

August 5, 2019

JOHN FOUT, NANCY FOUT, J&N MANAGEMENT, LLC and J&N MANAGEMENT ENTERPRISES, LLC, Plaintiffs,
v.
EQT PRODUCTION COMPANY, a Pennsylvania corporation, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO ALTER JUDGMENT

          FREDERICK P. STAMP, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. Background

         Following the jury trial of this civil action, the plaintiffs have filed a motion to alter judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60.[1] ECF No. 181. The plaintiffs argue that the judgment should be altered or amended for the following reasons: (1) the defendant, EQT Production Company (“EQT”), has a written policy dealing with the deductions, which is a contradiction to and misrepresents the oral policy, thereby prejudicing the plaintiffs; and (2) in order to comply with the laws of West Virginia, specifically West Virginia Code § 22-6-8, the written policy of EQT should be followed. Id. at 5-9. The plaintiffs cite Kay Co., LLC v. EQT Production, Civil Action No. 1:13-CV-151, and request that this Court “restore[] [ ] their correct rental payments.” Id. at 6, 9.

         The defendant filed a response in opposition to the motion, in which it asserts that the plaintiffs are simply dissatisfied with the jury's verdict in this case and that they are barred by the doctrine of res judicata from joining the class and class settlement in Kay Co. ECF No. 183 at 3. The defendant cites the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, explaining that a Rule 60(b)(3) motion should be granted if: “(1) the moving party has a meritorious defense; (2) the misconduct is proved by clear and convincing evidence; and (3) the misconduct prevented the moving party from fully presenting its case.” Columbia Communications Corp. v. EchoStar Satellite Corp., 2 Fed.Appx. 360, 366 (4th Cir. 2001) (citing Shultz v. Butcher, 24 F.3d 626, 630 (4th Cir. 1994). Id. at 4. The defendant asserts that the plaintiffs do not meet any of these prongs. Id. at 4-5.

         The plaintiffs did not file a reply to the defendant's response in opposition.

         II. Discussion

         Because the plaintiffs have not filed their motion or attached memorandum pursuant to a particular part of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60, this Court will proceed to analyze the plaintiffs' motion under each part of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60.

         A. Rule 60(a)

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(a) provides that a court “may correct clerical mistakes or mistakes arising from oversight or omission.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(a); see also Am. Trucking Ass'ns v. Frisco Transp. Co., 358 U.S. 133, 145, 79 S.Ct. 170, 177, 3 L.Ed.2d 172, 26 P.U.R.3d 527 (1958) (“It is axiomatic that courts have the power and the duty to correct judgments which contain clerical errors or judgments which have issued due to inadvertence or mistake.”). “[T]he scope of a court's authority under Rule 60(a) to make corrections to an order or judgment is circumscribed by the court's intent when it issued the order or judgment.” Sartin v. McNair Law Firm PA, 756 F.3d 259, 266 (4th Cir. 2014).

         Plaintiffs have failed to identify any clerical mistake or correction necessary to conform the judgment to the Court's intent. Therefore, any request for relief under Rule 60(a) is denied.

         B. Rule 60(b)

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) provides that a court may, upon motion or upon such terms as are just, relieve a party from a final judgment, order, or proceeding for one of the following reasons:

(1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect; (2) newly discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence, could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b); (3) fraud (whether previously called intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party; (4) the judgment is void; (5) the judgment has been satisfied, released or discharged; it is based on an earlier judgment that has been reversed or vacated; or applying it prospectively is no longer equitable; or (6) any other reason that justifies relief.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b). “The extraordinary remedy of Rule 60(b) is only to be granted in exceptional circumstances.” Wilson v. Thompson, No. 04-1099, 2005 WL 1607760, at *1 (4th Cir. July 11, 2005) (unpublished) (citing Compt ...


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