Unpublished Disposition, 848 F.2d 199 (9th Cir. 1988)Annotate this Case
In re Richard W. SEIBERT, Jr., etc., Debtor.Richard W. SEIBERT, Jr., Plaintiff and Appellee,v.OLD NATIONAL FINANCIAL SERVICES, INC., et al, Defendants andAppellants.
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
Submitted March 16, 1988.* Decided May 23, 1988.
Before SNEED, CYNTHIA HOLCOMB HALL and NOONAN, Circuit Judges.
Old National Financial Services, Inc. (Old National) appeals a memorandum decision of the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel (BAP) reversing the bankruptcy court's denial of debtor Richard Seibert, Jr.'s (Seibert) Rule 60(b) motion for relief from a stipulated order dismissing his adversary proceeding with prejudice. We reverse the BAP and reinstate the bankruptcy court order.
In an adversary proceeding against Old National, Seibert and his attorney stipulated to dismiss the proceeding with prejudice. Seibert later filed a rule 60(b) motion claiming that he intended the dismissal to be with prejudice as to his proceeding in the bankruptcy court but without prejudice as to his proceeding in state court. The bankruptcy court denied his motion and found no error, surprise or inadvertence. The BAP reversed.
This court reviews a bankruptcy court's denial of a Rule 60(b) motion under the abuse of discretion standard and does not give any deference to the decision of the BAP. Schanen v. United States Dept. of Justice, 762 F.2d 805, 807 (9th Cir. 1985), modified, 798 F.2d 348 (9th Cir. 1986); Briney v. Burley (In Re Burley), 738 F.2d 981, 988 (9th Cir. 1984).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) (1) allows a court to relieve a party from a final judgment on the grounds of "mistake, inadvertence, surprise or excusable neglect." Rule 60(b) motions should be liberally construed to assure that a case is tried on the merits and a just result is achieved. Rodgers v. Watt, 722 F.2d 456, 459 (9th Cir. 1983). On the other hand, "there is a compelling interest in the finality of judgments which should not be lightly disregarded." Id.
The purpose of Seibert's Rule 60(b) motion is to correct what is essentially his attorney's legal error. Legal error or attorney negligence is not, however, sufficient grounds for relief under Rule 60(b). Whale v. United States, 792 F.2d 951, 953 (9th Cir. 1986); Schanen v. United States Dept. of Justice, 762 F.2d at 806, 808; Savaresse v. Edrick Transfer & Storage, Inc., 513 F.2d 140, 146-47 (9th Cir. 1975). Accordingly, the bankruptcy court did not abuse its discretion by denying Seibert's motion. Furthermore, granting Seibert's motion would undermine the finality of judgments.
Finally, Seibert's contention that the bankruptcy court abused its discretion by denying his request for relief under Rule 60(a) or 60(b) (6) is unsupported by the record and without merit.
Because the bankruptcy court did not abuse its discretion, we reverse the decision of the BAP and reinstate the bankruptcy court's original order dismissing Seibert's action with prejudice for all purposes.