Saturday, April 19, 2014

Seventh Circuit: Fed. R. Civ. P. 6(d) Does Not Extend the Deadline for Filing Motions Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e)

By Myriam Z. Kasper
Chief Assistant Corporation Counsel, Appeals Division, City of Chicago Department of Law

In Williams v. Illinois, 737 F.3d 473 (7th Cir. 2013), the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that Fed. R. Civ. P. 6(d), which extends the time to act when that period runs from the date of service of a notice, does not extend the deadline for motions for reconsideration under Rule 59(e).

Williams filed suit under section 1983 (42 U.S.C. § 1983) and state law against more than a hundred defendants. After the case pended for sixteen months without service on any defendant, the district court dismissed the case for failure to prosecute pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(b).

Twenty-nine days later, Williams moved to reinstate the case, arguing that he had made diligent attempts to serve the defendants. Because the twenty-eight day deadline to move for reconsideration under Rule 59(e) had passed, the district court construed the motion under Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b), and denied it because Williams had not demonstrated any of the specific grounds justifying relief under that Rule.

Williams appealed, arguing that the district court erroneously evaluated his motion for reconsideration under Rule 60(b). The Seventh Circuit first reiterated the “bright-line rule” that any motion for reconsideration filed after the twenty-eight day deadline must be construed as a motion to vacate under Rule 60(b). The Seventh Circuit then rejected Williams’ argument that under Rule 6(d) he had three extra days to seek reconsideration because he received the dismissal by mail. The court explained that Rule 6(d) “enlarges the filing time only when the period for acting runs from the service of a notice, not when the time begins after the entry of judgment,” as it does under Rule 59(e). Thus, the court held that “Rule 6(d) *** does not extend the deadline for Rule 59(e) motions.” With this holding, the Seventh Circuit “join[ed] every other circuit that has ruled on this precise issue.” The court therefore concluded that the district court had properly reviewed the motion for reconsideration under Rule 60(b), and then held the denial of that motion was not an abuse of discretion.

Recommended Citation: Myriam Z. Kasper, Seventh Circuit: Fed. R. Civ. P. 6(d) Does Not Extend the Deadline for Filing Motions Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e), The Brief, (April 19, 2014),

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