United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
TIMOTHY D. DEGIUSTI CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Ellen Victoria Elam, through counsel, brings before the Court
a Motion for Relief from Judgment [Doc. No. 60]. Plaintiff
Christ Center of Divine Philosophy, Inc., has filed its
Response in opposition [Doc. No. 61], to which Defendant has
replied [Doc. No. 62]. Subsequently, and on largely identical
grounds to those supporting her Motion for Relief from
Judgment, Defendant filed a Motion to Stay Collection
Proceedings [Doc. No. 66]. Plaintiff has filed a Response in
opposition to the Motion to Stay [Doc. No. 67]. All matters
are fully briefed and at issue.
commenced the present action on January 28, 2016, alleging
Defendant infringed several of Plaintiff's copyrighted
works. On February 10, 2017, default judgment was entered
against Defendant for failing to answer or otherwise respond
to the suit, and the Court awarded Plaintiff statutory
damages in the amount of $80, 000, along with injunctive
relief [Doc. Nos. 13-14]. On October 18, 2017, the Court
granted Plaintiff's Motion to Modify Injunction and
enlarged the scope of injunctive relief to include all
thirty-one (31) copyrighted materials identified in
Plaintiff's Complaint [Doc. No. 32]. On October 24, 2017,
Defendant filed a Motion for Reconsideration [Doc. No. 34],
citing newly discovered evidence. The Court denied that
motion, finding Defendant made no effort to show that she
could not have obtained the evidence presented in the motion
through the exercise of due diligence. Order [Doc. No. 45],
then appealed the Court's Order to the United States
Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit [Doc. No. 46]. The
Tenth Circuit affirmed the Court's findings, [Doc. No.
58], reiterating that Defendant failed to allege the evidence
she presented was newly discovered or that she diligently-yet
unsuccessfully-attempted to discover the evidence.
Id. at 7.
present Motion, Defendant argues that: (1) a recent decision
in Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v.
Wall-Street.com, LLC, 139 S.Ct. 881, 203
L.Ed.2d 147 (2019), retroactively applies to divest the Court
of subject-matter jurisdiction; and, (2) she has newly
discovered evidence, which, pursuant to Rule 60, should
persuade the Court to set aside the judgment entered against
60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure reads, in part,
as follows: “On motion and upon such terms as are just,
the court may relieve a party or his legal representative
from a final judgment, order, or proceeding for [certain
enumerated] reasons.” Rule 60(b)(6) gives the Court
power to vacate a judgment in the interest of justice. The
power granted by Rule 60(b)(6), however, is not intended to
relieve a party from the consequences of a free, calculated,
and deliberate choice. A party remains under a duty to take
legal steps to protect his interests. Stewart Sec. Corp.
v. Guar. Tr. Co., 71 F.R.D. 32, 34 (W.D. Okla. 1976).
Tenth Circuit law, the trial court's discretion to grant
a Rule 60(b) motion is circumscribed, as “[r]elief
under Rule 60(b) is extraordinary and may only be granted in
exceptional circumstances.” Bud Brooks Trucking,
Inc. v. Bill Hodges Trucking Co., 909 F.2d 1437, 1440
(10th Cir. 1990). The circuit has cautioned that such relief
is appropriate only “when circumstances are so
‘unusual or compelling' that extraordinary relief
is warranted, or when it ‘offends justice' to deny
such relief.” Cashner v. Freedom Stores, Inc.,
98 F.3d 572, 580 (10th Cir. 1996). “Intervening
developments in the law by themselves rarely constitute the
extraordinary circumstances required for relief under Rule
60(b)(6).” Agostini v. Felton, 521 U.S. 203,
argues that the Supreme Court's decision in Fourth
Estate has the effect of divesting the Court of
subject-matter jurisdiction over this case, and therefore,
relief from judgment should be granted pursuant to Rule
60(b)(6). Reply at 1. Further, Defendant asserts that she is
entitled to relief from judgment because of newly discovered
Copyright Act generally requires copyright holders to
register their works before suing for copyright infringement.
17 U.S.C. § 411(a); Reed Elsevier, Inc. v.
Muchnick, 559 U.S. 154, 154 (2010). Section 411(a) of
the Copyright Act sets forth the relevant registration
requirements. Id. In Fourth Estate, the
Supreme Court held that a copyright claimant may commence an
infringement suit only once the Copyright Office registers a
copyright, not when a copyright owner submits the application
to the Copyright Office. 139 S.Ct. 881 at 223. Defendant
argues that Fourth Estate retroactively applies by
virtue of the Supreme Court's rule in Harper v.
Virginia Department of Taxation, dictating that any rule
applied by the Supreme Court has retroactive effect “in
all cases still open on direct review and as to all events,
regardless of whether such events predate or postdate [the
Supreme Court's] announcement of the rule.” 509
U.S. 86, 96 (1993).
here, moved the Court for relief from judgment during the
90-day window within which she could have filed a petition
for certiorari with the Supreme Court. Reply [Doc.
No. 62], at 3-4. Defendant did not, in fact, file a petition,
nor has Defendant taken any subsequent steps to keep this
case open on direct review. The opportunity to seek
certiorari has now passed.
Tenth Circuit has made clear: “litigation must end some
time . . . [and] that there may have been a judicial change
in the court's view of the law after its entry, does not
justify setting it aside.” Collins v. City of
Wichita, 254 F.2d 837, 839 (10th Cir. 1958).
“Relief under Rule 60(b) is extraordinary and may only
be granted in exceptional circumstances.” Bud
Brooks Trucking, 909 F.2d at 1440. The Court finds
Defendant's circumstances neither ...