United States v. Sierra Pacific Industries, Inc., No. 15-15799 (9th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
The United States brought a civil action against private forestry operators and other individuals to recover damages for a forest fire that broke out on private property near the Plumas National Forest in northern California (The Moonlight Fire). The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendants' motion for relief from judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(d)(3). The panel held that the district court properly concluded that Sierra Pacific could not demonstrate fraud on the court regarding any of the alleged fraud it discovered before settlement. Nor do the instances of alleged fraud discovered after settlement constitute actionable fraud on the court warranting Rule 60 relief. Furthermore, there was no appearance of bias created by the instances of alleged conduct in this case -- the judge's action in tweeting the link to an allegedly erroneous news article, so retroactive recusal was not warranted.