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Settling parties seek vacatur, take two

Charlottesville U.S. District Judge Norman Moon is making it clear it will be tough for settling parties to get the court to vacate opinions the parties may find inconvenient.

Moon awarded summary judgment to an ERISA plaintiff seeking long-term disability benefits, awarding him over $70,000 in back benefits and over $20,000 in attorney’s fees. The carrier in McIntyre v. Aetna Life Ins. Co. appealed, but the parties now say they have settled their case, and the carrier asked Moon to vacate the court’s Oct. 8, 2008 opinion, the magistrate judge’s Nov. 20, 2008 opinion and the court’s judgment order of Nov. 21.

As in Spencer v. AIG, Moon said the parties’ wishes did not present the “extraordinary circumstances” that would warrant vacatur under the 4th Circuit’s narrow interpretation of Rule 60(b)(6). Vacatur might save the parties’ time and expense, but “the precedent it might set would not conserve judicial resources and costs in the long run.”

The “public interest in preserving the integrity of the judiciary and conserving judicial resources outweighs Defendants’ private interest in vacating the Court’s opinions,” Moon wrote.

The parties still had the option to move for voluntary dismissal of the appeal, the court said.
By Deborah Elkins

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