Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Wojcicki v. Scana/Sce&G

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division

February 16, 2018

Joseph Edward Wojcicki, Plaintiff,
v.
SCANA/SCE&G, Defendants.

          ORDER AND OPINION

         Before 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).

         I. RELEVANT FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On 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.)

         On May 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.[1] (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.)

         On 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).

         On 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.[2] (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).

         On 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.[3] (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).

         II. JURISDICTION

         The 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.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         "[B]efore a party may seek relief under Rule 60(b), a party first must show timeliness, a meritorious defense, [4] a lack of unfair prejudice to [any] opposing party, and exceptional circumstances.[5] 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)).

         A court 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. 60(c)(1).

         Relief 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 Cir. 1979)).

         As 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 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.