FSM SUPREME COURT TRIAL DIVISION
Cite as Farata v. Punzalan
11 FSM Intrm. 175 (Chk. 2002)

[11 FSM Intrm. 175]

 
RIETA FARATA, for herself and
on behalf of HERBERT FARATA,
Plaintiff,
 
vs.
 
WILLY PUNZALAN, individually or as part
owner of any car/auto repair shop,
Defendant.
 
CIVIL ACTION NO. 2000-1025
 
ORDER DENYING RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT
 
Martin G. Yinug
Associate Justice
 
Decided: October 1, 2002

[11 FSM Intrm. 176]

APPEARANCES:
 
For the Plaintiffs:                   Frank Casiano, trial counselor
                                                Midasy O. Aisek, Esq. (supervising attorney)
                                                Micronesian Legal Services Corporation
                                                P.O. Box D
                                                Weno, Chuuk FM 96941
 
For the Defendant:               Johnny Meippen, Esq.
                                               P.O. Box 705
                                               Weno, Chuuk FM 96941

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HEADNOTES

Civil Procedure ) Motions
       Failure to oppose a motion is generally deemed a consent to the motion, but even if there is no opposition, the court still needs good grounds before it can grant the motion. Farata v. Punzalan, 11 FSM Intrm. 175, 177 (Chk. 2002).
 
Civil Procedure ) New Trial; Judgments ) Alter or Amend Judgment
      A Rule 59 motion must be brought within ten days of entry of judgment and can either be for a new trial or to alter or amend the judgment. Farata v. Punzalan, 11 FSM Intrm. 175, 177 (Chk. 2002).
 
Civil Procedure ) New Trial
       A new trial is granted only for manifest error of law or fact, or for newly discovered evidence, and will be denied when the movant has not identified any manifest error of law or fact or any newly discovered evidence. Farata v. Punzalan, 11 FSM Intrm. 175, 177 (Chk. 2002).
 
Judgments) Alter or Amend Judgment
      A motion to alter or amend the judgment will be denied when it does not state what the judgment should be altered to or amended to read, but only states the movants dissatisfaction with its current form and asks that the judgment be opened. Farata v. Punzalan, 11 FSM Intrm. 175, 178 (Chk. 2002).
 
Judgments) Relief from Judgment
      Rule 60(b) may not allow a party in whose favor a judgment is entered to seek relief from that judgment because stipulated judgments, while they are judicial acts, also have many attributes of voluntarily-undertaken contracts, and when the parties have made a freely calculated, deliberate choice to submit to an agreed upon judgment rather than seek a more favorable litigated outcome (or risk a less favorable litigated outcome), the burden under Rule 60(b) is probably more formidable than had they litigated and lost. Farata v. Punzalan, 11 FSM Intrm. 175, 178 (Chk. 2002).
 
Judgments) Relief from Judgment
      Relief under Rule 60(b)(6) is reserved for extraordinary circumstances. Farata v. Punzalan, 11 FSM Intrm. 175, 178 (Chk. 2002).
 
Judgments) Relief from Judgment
      Relief from judgment will be denied when the movant has not shown the extraordinary

[11 FSM Intrm. 177]

circumstances required by Rule 60(b)(6) for her to be granted relief from a judgment, which was in her favor and which she had agreed to, and has not shown unforeseeable changed circumstances. Farata v. Punzalan, 11 FSM Intrm. 175, 178 (Chk. 2002).
 
Judgments
     In the FSM, a court judgment remains in effect for twenty years, which gives a judgment holder plenty of time to collect her judgment so that for although the judgment gives the plaintiff $5,000 worth of auto repairs and she may not have a vehicle now, that is not to say that she will never have one at any time in the future and be able to collect on her judgment. Farata v. Punzalan, 11 FSM Intrm. 175, 178 (Chk. 2002).

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COURTS OPINION

MARTIN G. YINUG, Associate Justice:

     Based on the parties Stipulation filed on July 22, 2002, the court entered its judgment on July 25, 2002. That judgment provided that the defendant would perform on the plaintiffs behalf, and upon the plaintiffs request on a need only basis, $5,000 worth electrical and/or auto-mechanical services, and that such services would terminate upon the defendants satisfaction of the total amount as agreed upon.

     On August 2, 2002, the plaintiff, Rieta Farata, filed and served her Motion for Relief from Judgment. No opposition has been filed. Failure to oppose a motion is generally deemed a consent to the motion. Actouka v. Etpison, 1 FSM Intrm. 275, 276 (Pon. 1983); FSM Civ. R. 6(d). But even if there is no opposition, the court still needs good grounds before it can grant the motion. Senda v. Mid-Pacific Constr. Co., 6 FSM Intrm. 440, 442 (App. 1994).

      The grounds for Faratas motion are that she and her spouse now realize and foresee that these services will not inure to their benefit because they no longer have a vehicle in their possession and their house does not have electricity. Farata cites Civil Rule 60(b)(6) for the courts authority to grant her the relief requested. She also states that the motion is proper under Civil Rule 59. Farata asks that the court vacate or grant her relief from the July 25th judgment, or "in the alternative, continue the matter for further proceeding providing a deadline" and grant any other substantial justice deemed just and proper.

     As a Rule 59 motion this motion was timely filed. FSM Civ. R. 59(b); FSM Civ. R. 59(e) (motion must be brought within ten days of entry of judgment). Farata does not state what sort of relief she seeks under Rule 59. A Rule 59 motion can either be for a new trial, FSM Civ. R. 59(a), or to alter or amend the judgment, FSM Civ. R. 59(e). It is difficult to understand how a new trial could be sought when the original trial in this matter was never finished) it was suspended on July 11, 2001, pending the parties implementation of a tentative settlement. That tentative settlement eventually resulted in the judgment entered on the parties stipulation over a year later. Instead of a new trial resumption of the original one would seem more likely.

     Furthermore, a new trial is granted only "for manifest error of law or fact, or for newly discovered evidence." FSM Civ. R. 59(a). Farata has not identified any manifest error of law or fact or any newly discovered evidence. She only contends that her circumstances make the judgment she agreed to not as favorable as it would have been) she asserts that she and her spouse now realize that the services to be provided will not inure to their benefit.

[11 FSM Intrm. 178]

       Nor does Farata state (if this is a motion to alter or amend the judgment) what the judgment should be altered to or amended to read. She only states her dissatisfaction with its current form and asks that the judgment be opened.

      Accordingly, Faratas motion for relief under Rule 59 is denied.

     As a Rule 60(b) motion for relief from judgment, this motion is unusual because it is the plaintiff, in whose favor judgment was rendered (and who stipulated to that judgment), who is asking the court for relief from judgment. Some authority concludes that Rule 60(b) does not allow a party in whose favor a judgment is entered to seek relief from that judgment. Dyan v. North Am. Carbide Corp., 95 F.R.D. 371, 372 (E.D. Pa. 1982).

      Furthermore, stipulated judgments, while they are judicial acts, also have many attributes of voluntarily-undertaken contracts, and when the parties have made a freely calculated, deliberate choice to submit to an agreed upon judgment rather than seek a more favorable litigated outcome (or risk a less favorable litigated outcome), the burden under Rule 60(b) is probably more formidable than had they litigated and lost. United States Steel Corp. v. Fraternal Assn of Steel Haulers, 601 F.2d 1269, 1274 (3d Cir. 1979) (consent decrees); see also Alexander v. Britt, 89 F.3d 194, 199-200 (4th Cir. 1996).

     Relief under Rule 60(b)(6) is reserved for "extraordinary circumstances." Ackermann v. United States, 340 U.S. 193, 199. 71 S. Ct. 209, 212, 95 L. Ed. 207, 211 (1950); United States v. Sparks, 685 F.2d 1128, 1130 (9th Cir. 1982); Ashford v. Steuart, 657 F.2d 1053, 1055 (9th Cir. 1981). But Farata has not shown the extraordinary circumstances required by Rule 60(b)(6) for her to be granted relief from a judgment (especially one in her favor) which she agreed to. Nor has she shown unforeseeable changed circumstances. The only changed circumstance seems to be that "she and her spouse now realized [sic] that the performance of services to be provided will not inure to their benefits."

     The court also notes that in the Federated States of Micronesia, a court judgment remains in effect for twenty years, 6 F.S.M.C. 802(1); Walter v. Chuuk, 10 FSM Intrm. 312, 316 (Chk. 2001), which gives Farata plenty of time to collect her judgment. She may not have a vehicle now, but that is not to say that she will never have one at any time in the future. Surely, even if she had a vehicle right now, she would not likely have need of these repair services immediately. And even if she did, it is not likely that she would need the full amount of the services immediately. It seems apparent that it was contemplated by the parties that these services were to be used over an unspecified period of time with no foreseeable end date.

     The court cannot say that the circumstances have changed significantly (or maybe even not at all) between the stipulation to judgment and the motion seeking relief from the judgment.

     Accordingly, the plaintiffs Motion for Relief from Judgment is denied.

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