Monday, July 23, 2007

10th Circuit Finds District Court Did Not Abuse Its Discretion by Denying Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration

Per Beugler v. Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Ry. Co., --- F.3d ----, 2007 WL 1895471 (10th Cir. Jul. 03, 2007):

Finally, we address Mr. Beugler's contention that the district court erred by denying his Rule 60(b) motion. "Our task upon review" of a district court's denial of a Rule 60(b) motion "is to determine only whether the district court abused its discretion in denying such relief." Pelican Prod. Corp. v. Marino, 893 F.2d 1143, 1145 (10th Cir.1990). When doing so, we are mindful that Rule 60(b) "relief is extraordinary and may only be granted in exceptional circumstances." Amoco Oil Co. v. EPA, 231 F.3d 694, 697 (10th Cir.2000) (internal quotation marks omitted).

After reviewing the record, we are convinced that the district court's ruling was not an abuse of discretion. We agree with the district court's conclusion that the bulk of the "newly discovered evidence"--various affidavits and depositions and Mr. Beugler's responses to interrogatories--was not in fact "new" because it was known or discoverable before the court entered summary judgment in favor of Burlington Northern. Appellant is correct that the Public Law Board ruling in favor of Mr. Beugler was entered on March 25, 2005, nearly two months after the court granted summary judgment to Burlington Northern. The district court was nonetheless within its discretion to deny the Rule 60(b) motion, however, because the Public Law Board's ruling simply finds that Union Pacific violated Mr. Beugler's employment agreement. That finding is irrelevant to the dispositive question in this case: whether, and to what extent, Burlington Northern owed Mr. Beugler a duty of care.

The circumstances of this case are far from those exceptional enough to warrant Rule 60(b) relief. We therefore affirm the district court's denial of Mr. Beugler's motion.


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