11.15.2006

First Circuit Considers Split Re Whether District Courts May Modify an Injunction, Sua Sponte, Under FRCP 59(e) or 60(b)

Per Dr. Jose S. Belaval, Inc. v. Perez-Perdomo, 465 F.3d 33 (1st Cir. Oct 02, 2006):

There is an initial question whether the district court had authority to act on its own initiative. This circuit has not decided whether a district court may act sua sponte to modify an injunction under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) or Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b). The plain text of Rule 59(e) does not speak expressly to that question. [FN3] And whether Rule 60(b) bars a court from sua sponte issuing relief from judgment is an issue that has divided the circuits. Compare Eaton v. Jamrog, 984 F.2d 760, 762 (6th Cir.1993) (holding that Rule 60(b) bars sua sponte relief), and Dow v. Baird, 389 F.2d 882, 884-85 (10th Cir.1968) (same), with Fort Knox Music Inc. v. Baptiste, 257 F.3d 108, 111 (2d Cir.2001) (finding that Rule 60(b) permits sua sponte relief), Kingvision Pay-Per-View, Ltd. v. Lake Alice Bar, 168 F.3d 347, 351-52 (9th Cir.1999) (same), McDowell v. Celebrezze, 310 F.2d 43, 44 (5th Cir.1962) (same), and United States v. Jacobs, 298 F.2d 469, 472 (4th Cir.1961) (suggesting that sua sponte relief may be appropriate under Rule 60(b) in some cases).

FN3. One circuit has held that the district court has the inherent authority to act in this manner if it complies with Rule 59(e)'s ten-day limit. See Burnam v. Amoco Container Co., 738 F.2d 1230, 1232 (11th Cir.1984); see also Sun-Tek Indus., Inc. v. Kennedy Sky Lites, Inc., 848 F.2d 179, 181 (Fed.Cir.1988) (applying Eleventh Circuit procedural law). But cf. 12 Moore's Federal Practice--Civil ยง 59.33 (2006) (stating only that "[a]rguably" the court has this authority). The order in this case, coming some eleven months after the injunction was entered, did not comply with the ten-day limit.

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