United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division
ORDER AND OPINION
the court is Plaintiff's Amended Motion to Set Aside
Judgment. (ECF No. 71.) Plaintiff moves the court for relief
from the court's August 9, 2017 Order (ECF No. 51)
(“August 9, 2017 Order”) denying reconsideration
of the court's dismissal of Plaintiff's Complaint
(ECF No. 1), as well as the court's January 17, 2017
Order (ECF No. 43) (“January 17, 2017 Order”)
dismissing Plaintiff's Complaint. For the reasons stated
below, the court DENIES Plaintiff's
Amended Motion to Set Aside Judgment (ECF No. 71).
RELEVANT FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
March 11, 2014, Plaintiff filed his initial Complaint pro se
(ECF No. 1) and also moved to file it under seal (ECF No. 2)
as required for False Claim Act actions. See 31
U.S.C. § 3730(b)(2). On April 1, 2014, Magistrate Judge
Paige J. Gossett filed a Proper Form Order (ECF No. 6)
granting Plaintiff's Motion to Seal (ECF No. 2) and
ordering Plaintiff to obtain legal counsel within twenty-one
(21) days of the Order because pro se plaintiffs cannot bring
qui tam actions under the False Claims Act, 31
U.S.C. § 3729 et seq. (ECF No. 6 at 1.) Magistrate Judge
Gossett also ordered Plaintiff to complete a Summons Form for
the Attorney General of the United States (“Attorney
General”) and a separate Summons Form for the United
States Attorney for the District of South Carolina (“US
Attorney”) within twenty-one (21) days of the Order.
(Id. at 2.) Lastly, Magistrate Judge Gossett stated
that no process would be issued until she reviewed whether
Plaintiff complied with the Proper Form Order. (Id.
at 2.) Plaintiff did not comply with the Proper Form Order
(ECF No. 6), but on May 14, 2014, Magistrate Judge Gossett
filed another Proper Form Order (ECF No. 12) giving Plaintiff
an additional fourteen (14) days to bring his case into
proper form. Magistrate Judge Gossett also warned Plaintiff
that if he did not bring his case into proper form, his case
may be dismissed for failure to prosecute and failure to
comply with an order of the court under Fed.R.Civ.P. 41. (ECF
No. 12 at 1.)
21, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Appoint Counsel (ECF
No. 14), and on May 27, 2014, Plaintiff filed a completed
Summons for both the Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney
(ECF No. 17). On June 24, 2014, the case was reassigned from
Judge Margaret Seymour to the undersigned. (ECF No. 22.) On
June 27, 2014, Magistrate Judge Gossett denied
Plaintiff's Motion to Appoint Counsel (ECF No. 14), and
ordered the Clerk not to issue the Summons for service of
process. (ECF No. 24.) On the same day, Magistrate
Judge Gossett filed a Report and Recommendation
(“Report”) recommending that the case be unsealed
and that Plaintiff's Complaint (ECF No. 1) be dismissed
without prejudice and without issuance and service of
process. (ECF No. 25.) On July 9, 2014, the case was
unsealed. (ECF No. 27.) Plaintiff timely filed an Objection
to the Report (ECF No. 25). (ECF No. 29.)
August 3, 2015, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Request for
Legal Assistance and for Reverse Summary Judgment (ECF No.
33), which the court denied on January 19, 2016. (ECF No.
36). On January 28, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Motion for
Reconsideration (ECF No. 38) of the court's denial (ECF
No. 36), and on April 4, 2016, the court denied
Plaintiff's Motion (ECF No. 38).
January 17, 2017, the court accepted the Magistrate
Judge's Report (ECF No. 25) and dismissed without
prejudice Plaintiff's Complaint, and ordered that process
should not be served. (ECF No. 43.) Judgment was entered the
same day (ECF No. 44), and on January 27, 2017, Plaintiff
filed a Motion for Reconsideration (ECF No. 46) of the
court's January 17, 2017 Order. On January 30, 2017,
Plaintiff filed an Amended Motion for
Reconsideration. (ECF No. 47.) On August 9, 2017, the court
denied as moot Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration
(ECF No. 46) and denied Plaintiff's Amended Motion for
Reconsideration (ECF No. 47).
September 7, 2017, Plaintiff appealed the court's August
9, 2017 Order to the United States Court of Appeals for the
Fourth Circuit. (ECF No. 53.) On September 25, 2017,
Plaintiff filed a Motion to Reopen his case and the court
granted it on January 19, 2018. (ECF Nos. 62, 75.) On November
21, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Set Aside Judgment (ECF
No. 68), and on December 18, 2017, filed an Amended Motion to
Set Aside Judgment (ECF No. 71). Plaintiff moves the court to
set aside its January 17, 2017 Order (ECF No. 43) and the
court's August 9, 2017 Order (ECF No. 47).
court has jurisdiction over this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1331. Federal courts are courts of limited
jurisdiction. Under section 1331, district courts have
original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.
Plaintiff brings his claim pursuant to 31 U.S.C. § 3729
et seq., thus establishing federal question jurisdiction.
a party may seek relief under Rule 60(b), a party first must
show timeliness, a meritorious defense,  a lack of unfair
prejudice to [any] opposing party, and exceptional
circumstances. After a party has crossed this initial
threshold, he then must satisfy one of the six specific
sections of Rule 60(b)." Dowell v. State Farm Fire
& Cas. Auto. Ins. Co., 993 F.2d 46, 48 (4th Cir.
1993) (citing Werner v. Carbo, 731 F.2d 204, 207
(4th Cir. 1984)). “The disposition of motions under
Rule 60(b) ordinarily is a matter within the discretion of
the district court which will not be disturbed on appeal
absent a showing of abuse of that discretion.”
Werner v. Carbo, 731 F.2d 204, 206 (4th Cir. 1984)
(citing Central Operating Co. v. Utility Workers,
491 F.2d 245, 252 (4th Cir. 1974)).
may relieve a party from a final judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P.
60(b) (“Rule 60(b)”) for 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.” A
motion under this rule must be made within a reasonable time,
and relief under reasons (1), (2), and (3) is not available
after one year from the entry of the judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P.
under Rule 60(b)(6) requires a showing of
“extraordinary circumstances.” Aikens v.
Ingram, 652 F.3d 496, 510 (4th Cir. 2011) (citing
Valero Terrestrial Corp. v. Paige, 211 F.3d 112, 118
n.2 (4th Cir. 2000)). Rule 60(b)(6) provides a “grand
reservoir of equitable power to do justice in a particular
case.” Eberhardt v. Integrated Design & Const.,
Inc., 167 F.3d 861, 872 (4th Cir. 1999) (citing
Compton v. Alton S.S. Co., 608 F.2d 96, 106-07 (4th
Plaintiff is a pro se litigant, the court is
required to liberally construe his arguments. Gordon v.
Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978); see also
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (pro
se plaintiff's “inartful pleadings” may