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Taylor v. Ingoglia

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

March 11, 2016

RICHARD K. TAYLOR, SR., through his personal representative MELODY K. TAYLOR LINDSEY, MELODY K. TAYLOR LINDSEY, individually, RICHARD K. TAYLOR, JR., DONNETTA TAYLOR, Plaintiffs,
v.
PATRICIA INGOGLIA, Trustee of the Donald and Patricia Ingoglia Family Trust, ESTATE OF DONALD INGOGLIA, DOE PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE, DOE DEFENDANTS 1-20, Defendants.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION TO DENY PLAINTIFF RICHARD K. TAYLOR, JR.'S MOTION FOR RULE 60 RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT OR ORDER[1]

          RICHARD L. PUGLISI, Magistrate Judge.

         A hearing was held on Plaintiff Richard K. Taylor, Jr.'s ("Mr. Taylor") Motion for Rule 60 Relief From Judgment or Order ("Motion") on March 7, 2016, at 10:00 a.m. Mr. Taylor appeared telephonically on behalf of himself; Robert John Crudele, Esq. and Francis R. Alcain, Esq. appeared for Plaintiffs Richard K. Taylor, Sr., through his personal representative Melody K. Taylor Lindsey, Melody K. Taylor Lindsey, individually, and Donnetta Taylor (collectively "Remaining Plaintiffs"); Randall Y. Yamamoto, Esq. appeared for Defendants; Keith K. Hiraoka, Esq. appeared on behalf of non-party Crudele & De Lima. After carefully considering the arguments of the parties, the supporting and opposing memoranda, declarations, and exhibits attached thereto, the record established in this action, and the relevant legal authority, the Court FINDS and RECOMMENDS that Mr. Taylor's Motion be DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         This action arises out of an automobile accident that caused the death of Mr. Taylor's father, Richard K. Taylor, Sr. ECF No. 1. Mr. Taylor, Melody K. Taylor Lindsey, individually and as the personal representative of Richard K. Taylor, Sr., and Donnetta Taylor sued the estate of the driver of the vehicle that struck the vehicle in which Richard K. Taylor, Sr. was a passenger. Id . The Taylor family was represented by the law firm Crudele & De Lima. Id . A Settlement on the Record between all parties was held on August 13, 2014. ECF No. 17. Mr. Taylor participated telephonically in the Settlement on the Record. Id . On February 5, 2015, the parties filed a stipulation for dismissal with prejudice of all claims and all parties. ECF No. 20. Nearly a year later, Mr. Taylor filed the instant Motion, arguing that his counsel, Crudele & De Lima, fraudulently obtained his signature on a single page document and used it to enter into the settlement agreement without his full consent. ECF No. 21. Crudele & De Lima subsequently filed a motion to withdraw as counsel for Mr. Taylor, which was granted by the Court on February 11, 2016. ECF Nos. 24, 26.

         It is unclear from Mr. Taylor's Motion whether he argues that the order dismissing this case should be set aside because his former counsel, Crudele & De Lima, improperly distributed his settlement proceeds to others or because counsel fraudulently entered into the settlement agreement without his full knowledge and consent. ECF No. 21-4 at 3-5. Mr. Taylor also requests "relief from court costs, " which the Court construes as a request to proceed in forma pauperis, and further requests that the Court provide copies and service. ECF Nos. 21-2, 21-3. The Remaining Plaintiffs argue that the Motion should be denied because Mr. Taylor participated in mediation, agreed to the final settlement figure, and was present telephonically at the Settlement on the Record. ECF No. 34-1 at 2-3; see also ECF No. 34-2 ¶¶ 5-9, Declaration of Francis R. Alcain. Defendants argue that Mr. Taylor acknowledged his agreement to the settlement and that his only dispute relates to the receipt of his share of the proceeds. ECF No. 28-1, Declaration of Randall Y. Yamamoto. For the reasons discussed below, the Court FINDS and RECOMMENDS that Mr. Taylor's Motion be DENIED.

         ANALYSIS

         First, the Court addresses Mr. Taylor's requests to proceed in forma pauperis and for the court to provide free copies and service. Second, the Court addresses Mr. Taylor's arguments regarding his Rule 60 Motion. It is not clear from Mr. Taylor's Motion whether he seeks relief under Rule 60 because he disputes the distribution of settlement funds or because he disputes his agreement to the settlement itself. Although Mr. Taylor represented at the hearing that his argument is that he did not agree to the settlement because he lacked sufficient knowledge of its terms, the Court nonetheless addresses both arguments.

         I. The Court GRANTS Mr. Taylor's Request to Proceed In Forma Pauperis and DENIES His Request for the Court to Provide Free Copies and Service.

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), a litigant may petition the court for authorization to proceed in forma pauperis. A litigant seeking to proceed in forma pauperis must provide an affidavit that includes a statement of all assets possessed and that the litigant is unable to pay the fees associated with litigating the action. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). "[A]n affidavit is sufficient which states that one cannot because of his poverty pay or give security for the costs and still be able to provide himself and dependents with the necessities of life." Adkins v. E.I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co., Inc., 335 U.S. 331, 339 (1948); see also United States v. McQuade, 647 F.2d 938, 940 (9th Cir. 1981) (the affidavit must "state the facts as to affiant's poverty with some particularity, definiteness and certainty").

         The granting of in forma pauperis status is only applicable to certain court fees and litigation costs. Generally, filing fees and fees for service of process for the summons and complaint are paid by the Court for persons who have been granted in forma pauperis status. All other costs, including copying fees, are not covered by the granting of in forma pauperis status. See Tedder v. Odel, 890 F.2d 210, 211 (9th Cir. 1989) (denying waiver of witness fees for plaintiff proceeding in forma pauperis).

         Here, Mr. Taylor states that he is not employed, has no income, owns no assets, and has a "spendable" total of $12.09 in his prisoner account. See ECF No. 21-2. The Court finds that Mr. Taylor has sufficiently shown his poverty and therefore GRANTS Mr. Taylor's request to proceed in forma pauperis. However, as discussed above, Mr. Taylor's in forma pauperis status does not cover copying fees. Further, there is no filing fee associated with Mr. Taylor's Motion and the only "service" necessary is service under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 5, which is not covered by in forma pauperis status. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 5; see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(c)(3) (providing that the court will provide service of a complaint and summons for a plaintiff proceeding forma pauperis). Therefore, the Court DENIES Mr. Taylor's request that the court provide free copies and service.

         II. The Court RECOMMENDS That Mr. Taylor's Motion for Rule 60 Relief From Judgment or Order Be DENIED.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) provides that the court may relieve a party from a final judgment, order, or proceeding for mistake, fraud, or for any other reason that justifies relief. Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(1), (3), (6). As discussed above, the Court will address both arguments presented in Mr. Taylor's Motion.

         A. Mr. Taylor's Motion Should Be Denied to the Extent He Disputes the ...


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