Tattersalls v. DeHaven

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: 03-21-2014
  • Case #: 12-56037
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Clifton for the Court; Circuit Judge Schroeder and District Judge Cogan
  • Full Text Opinion

The district court's use of Rule 60(a) to correct a judgment and award monetary damages, is proper when the district court's original intent is to award monetary damages.

When DeHaven failed to pay for a thoroughbred horse, English horse auctioneer Tattersalls sued to recover the horse, the difference between purchase and resale values, and other damages. Recognizing that no credible evidence to calculate the amount of depreciation damages was available, the district court made a finding that the horse had not depreciated in value and entered a default judgment to award title, ownership, and right to possession of the horse to Tattersalls. The district court then instructed Tattersalls to file a motion to amend the judgment under Rule 59(e), Fed R Civ P, and provide evidence of the horse’s lost value after it had been resold at the next available auction. Alternatively, the court permitted Tattersalls to submit an expert’s appraisal opinion. The district court, however, had overlooked the 28-day requirement under Rule 59(e) and later ruled that Tattersalls could move to amend the judgment under Rule 60(a) instead. The district court granted the Rule 60(a) motion in favor of Tattersalls, which was then challenged by DeHaven, after Tattersalls presented uncontested expert testimony of the horse’s lost value. Affirming the district court’s decision, the Ninth Circuit held that the district court properly exercised its discretion under Rule 60(a) to correct the original judgment award to include depreciation damages. The panel noted that the corrected judgment accomplished the original intent of the court to grant full relief to Tattersalls. The panel also distinguished Rule 59(e), which was applicable to motions to amend judgments involving a “substantive change of [the court’s] mind,” from Rule 60(a), which permits the court to correct “blunder[s] in execution.” AFFIRMED.

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