United States v. Aguilar

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: 04-10-2015
  • Case #: No. 13-55155
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Owens for the Court; Circuit Judges Callahan and Watford
  • Full Text Opinion

A court may deny a motion under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (60)(b)(1) when the Falk factors are met.

Angela Maria Gomez Aguilar (“Angela”) and Enrique Faustino Aguilar Gomez (“Enrique Jr.”) were stockholders and controllers of Grupo Internacional de Asesores S.A. (“Grupo”) In 2008, under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the government was suspicious of illegal payments being made, by and through Grupo, to Mexican officials. The government seized the funds held in Grupo’s brokerage account, but later entered into an agreement to delay a civil forfeiture complaint. However, when traveling through Texas in 2010, Angela was arrested, and, after a criminal trial, returned to Mexico. The government then filed suit, seeking forfeiture of the brokerage account. The district court entered a default judgment against Angela, Enrique Jr., and Grupo. Subsequently, Grupo filed a motion to set aside the default judgment, but was denied under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 60(b)(1). On appeal, the Ninth Circuit held that the district court did not err in denying Angela, Enrique Jr., and Grupo’s motion to set aside default judgment. The panel explained that before analyzing the Fed. R. Civ. 60(b)(1) motion, the court must determine if there are “extreme circumstances” that would allow for the judgment to stand. In applying this policy, a court must consider the Falk factors, which include, “(1) whether the party seeking to set aside the default engaged in culpable conduct that led to the default; (2) whether it had no meritorious defense; or (3) whether reopening the default judgment would prejudice the other party.” The panel held that there has never been a “magic word” requirement which forces the court to explain why a particular case represents an extreme circumstance, but found that the first Falk factor was enough affirm that district courts decision. AFFIRMED.

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