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Legion Construction, Inc. v. Gibson

United States District Court, District of Columbia

July 15, 2015

LEGION CONSTRUCTION, INC. and PETER A. IANUZZI, JR., Plaintiffs,
v.
SLOAN D. GIBSON, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

ROSEMARY M. COLLYER, District Judge.

Legion Construction, Inc. and its president and owner, Peter Ianuzzi, Jr., have filed a motion to reopen the case that they asked this Court to close almost a year ago. Because they have failed to demonstrate either "newly discovered evidence" or that the Court's judgment "is no longer equitable, " their motion will be denied.

I. FACTS

Plaintiffs were suspended from federal contracting on November 2, 2012. Suspension Letters [Dkt. 6-2] at 6-9. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) based its decision on the October 23, 2012 indictment of Mr. David Gorski, a former minority owner and officer of Legion, for having willfully defrauded the United States by falsely representing Legion as a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB). See generally id. On May 29, 2013, the VA through its Debarring Official notified Plaintiffs that their suspension would continue "pending the completion and outcome of the legal proceedings initiated in the indictment" of Mr. Gorski. Agency Letter [Dkt. 6-3] at 2. That letter contained a lengthy explanation of the cause for suspension and an analysis of the legal standards as applied to the facts at hand. See id. at 3-6. Then on December 20, 2013, the VA notified Plaintiffs that they were proposed for debarment from federal contracting. Agency Letters [Dkt. 6-4]. Those letters went even further, explaining over six pages how the facts supported VA's conclusion. Among the findings of fact were that "Mr. Ianuzzi was an owner and principal of Legion." Id. at 3.

Plaintiffs filed suit in this Court on June 20, 2014, seeking declaratory, injunctive, and mandamus relief. Complaint [Dkt. 1] at 2. They also moved the Court to issue a preliminary injunction ordering the VA to issue a final decision on Plaintiffs' proposed debarment. Mot. for Prelim. Inj. [Dkt. 2]. On June 27, 2014, the Court denied Plaintiffs' motion after a hearing on the matter. Order [Dkt. 9]. The Court then stayed the case on July 25, 2014 pending resolution of Mr. Gorski's criminal trial. Minute Order 7/25/2014.

At that point, Plaintiffs asked the Court to do one of two things: either lift the stay and expedite discovery, or "deny the request for preliminary injunction, enter a final order of dismissal, and thus allow the Plaintiffs to appeal. " Status Report [Dkt. 12] at 3 (emphasis added). Unwilling to lift the stay, for reasons it had already articulated, the Court gave Plaintiffs their second choice: a final order of dismissal from which they could appeal. Order [Dkt. 13] at 3 ("This is a final appealable order."). Plaintiffs never appealed.

Instead, they turned their attention to Mr. Gorski's criminal trial in Massachusetts. See generally Opp'n to Mot. to Reopen [Dkt. 27] (Opp'n) at 4-6.[1] After the Massachusetts District Court ruled that the crime-fraud exception to the attorney-client privilege applied, Legion Construction moved to intervene in order to preserve its privilege claim. Id. at 5. After a hearing, the district court reduced the scope of its previous order but nonetheless ordered Legion to turn over some of the relevant, otherwise-privileged documents under the crime-fraud exception. Id. Legion and Gorski have appealed to the First Circuit, where briefing should be completed in September. Id. at 6.

In the meantime, Plaintiffs ask this Court to reopen this case because of ostensibly new evidence and the alleged inequity of the Court's judgment going forward. First, Plaintiffs claim to have learned for the first time that the VA "has substantial investigative/fact-finding capabilities." Mot. to Reopen [Dkt. 15] (Mot.) at 11. Second, they have learned "that termination of affiliation [from an alleged wrongdoer]... may make a company eligible for new government contracts." Id. at 12. Finally, they argue that the Court's final judgment is no longer equitable because it keeps Plaintiffs "in limbo." Id. at 17.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

The parties do not dispute the legal standard for reopening a case under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Court may, on "just terms, " modify a final judgment in two circumstances relevant here. The first is upon "newly discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence, could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b)." Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(2). To prevail on a Rule 60(b)(2) motion, the movant "must demonstrate that: (1) the newly discovered evidence is of facts that existed at the time of trial or other dispositive proceeding; (2) the party seeking relief was justifiably ignorant of the evidence despite due diligence; (3) the evidence is admissible and is of such importance that it probably would have changed the outcome; and (4) the evidence is not merely cumulative or impeaching." Duckworth v. United States ex rel. Locke, 808 F.Supp.2d 210, 216 (D.D.C. 2011).

The second circumstance is where "applying [the judgment] prospectively is no longer equitable." Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(5). This is "little more than a codification of the universally recognized principle that a court has continuing power to modify or vacate a final decree." United States v. Western Electric, 46 F.3d 1198, 1202 (D.C. Cir. 1995).

Plaintiffs bear the burden in either circumstance. Rufo v. Inmates of Suffolkt Cnty. Jail, 502 U.S. 367, 383 (1992); Green v. AFL-CIO, 811 F.Supp.2d 250, 254 (D.D.C. 2011). The Court should wield its "large measure of discretion, " Twelve John Does v. District of Columbia, 841 F.2d 1133, 1138 (D.C. Cir. 1988), in order to "balance the interest in justice with the interest in protecting the finality of judgments." Summers v. Howard Univ., 374 F.3d 1188, 1193 (D.C. Cir. 2004).

III. ANALYSIS

The Court is not persuaded by either of Plaintiffs' two arguments to reopen their case and ...


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