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Jordan v. U.S. Department of Labor

United States District Court, District of Columbia

July 1, 2019

JACK JORDAN, Plaintiff,
v.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, Defendant.

         Re Document No. 67

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          RUDOLPH CONTRERAS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Denying Plaintiff's Motion for Relief from Judgment

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Jack Jordan's (“Mr. Jordan's”) motion for relief from judgment. Mr. Jordan previously submitted FOIA requests with the United States Department of Labor's (“DOL's”) Office of Administrative Law Judges, seeking unredacted versions of two emails related to a lawsuit in which Mr. Jordan represented his wife, Maria Jordan, against DynCorp International, Inc. (“DynCorp”). In a prior opinion, this Court granted summary judgment to DOL in part, upholding DOL's withholding of one email (the “Powers email”) as protected by the attorney client privilege but ordering the production of the second email (the “Huber email”) to Mr. Jordan. Mr. Jordan now seeks relief from the Court's grant of summary judgment regarding the Powers email pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60. Because Mr. Jordan fails to meet the standards set forth in Rule 60, the Court denies the motion.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The Court presumes familiarity with its prior opinions, see Jordan v. U.S. Dep't of Labor (“Jordan I”), 273 F.Supp.3d 214 (D.D.C. 2017); Jordan v. U.S. Dep't of Labor (“Jordan II”), 308 F.Supp.3d 24 (D.D.C. 2018), and only briefly summarizes the facts relevant to the present motion.

         Mr. Jordan, an attorney, represented his wife in a 2016 Defense Base Act case against DynCorp before DOL. Jordan I, 273 F.Supp.3d at 219. Mr. Jordan submitted a number of FOIA requests to DOL regarding the case, seeking, inter alia, the disclosure of emails forwarded to a DOL Administrative Law Judge by DynCorp. See Id. at 219-20. In response, DOL disclosed redacted versions of the Huber and Powers emails but refused to produce unredacted versions, which it contended were protected by the attorney-client privilege. See Id. at 220-21. Mr. Jordan commenced litigation in this Court in September 2016, seeking “[i]njunctive relief ordering the DOL to disclose to [Mr. Jordan] all previously undisclosed versions of the [DynCorp] [e]mails.” Compl. at 10-11, ECF No. 1; Pl.'s Unopposed Mot. Leave Amend. Compl., ECF No. 19. Both Mr. Jordan and the DOL moved for summary judgment on the issue of whether the Powers and Huber emails were protected by the attorney-client privilege. See Jordan I, 273 F.Supp.3d at 224.

         After conducting an in camera inspection of the two emails, this Court granted summary judgment in part to DOL, determining that the Powers email was privileged and properly withheld, but that DOL had not sufficiently justified the basis for withholding the Huber email. Id. at 227. The Court noted that the Powers email, unlike the Huber email, was labelled “subject to attorney-client privilege” and contained an explicit request for legal advice. Id. And it found that DOL had released all reasonably segregable portions of the Powers email. Id. at 235. In a later opinion denying the DOL's renewed motion for summary judgment, the Court found that the Huber email was not covered by attorney-client privilege and ordered the disclosure of that document. Jordan II, 308 F.Supp.3d at 44. The Court also denied Mr. Jordan's motion for reconsideration of its determination that the Powers email was protected by the attorney-client privilege. See Id. at 38-39.

         Mr. Jordan then appealed this Court's holding regarding the Powers email to the D.C. Circuit. Pl.'s Notice of Appeal, ECF No. 62. The D.C. Circuit summarily affirmed, holding that this Court “did not err” in concluding that the Powers email was exempt from disclosure. Jordan v. U.S. Dep't of Labor (“Jordan III”), No. 18-5128, 2018 WL 5819393 at *1 (D.C. Cir. Oct. 19, 2018). Moreover, the Circuit held that “[t]o the extent [Mr. Jordan] s[ought] disclosure of the parts of the Powers email that read ‘attorney-client privilege' and seek an explicit request for legal advice, the district court did not err in declining to require disclosure of such disjointed words.” Id. at *2.

         Mr. Jordan has now filed a motion for relief from judgment, asking this Court to set aside its prior ruling and to hold that the Powers email is not protected by attorney-client privilege. Pl.'s Mot. Relief J. 10, ECF No. 67.

         III. LEGAL STANDARDS

         “Rule 60(b) provides a mechanism for relief from a judgment or order by permitting the court to relieve a party or its legal representative from a final judgment, order, or proceeding[.]” Oladokun v. Corr. Treatment Facility, 309 F.R.D. 94, 97 (D.D.C. 2015). The burden falls to the party seeking relief to “[show] that he or she is entitled to relief.” Id.; see also Green v. AFL-CIO, 287 F.R.D. 107, 109 (D.D.C. 2012). The final decision to grant or deny a Rule 60(b) motion is “committed to the discretion of the District Court, ” United Mine Workers 1974 Pension v. Pittston Co., 984 F.2d 469, 476 (D.C. Cir. 1993), which “balance[s] 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). The movant “must provide the district court with reason to believe that vacating the judgment will not be an empty exercise or a futile gesture.” Murray v. District of Columbia, 52 F.3d 353, 355 (D.C. Cir. 1995).

         IV. ANALYSIS

         Mr. Jordan asserts that relief from the Court's judgment is warranted under Rules 60(a), 60(b)(2), 60(b)(3), 60(d)(3), 60(b)(4), 60(b)(5), and 60(b)(6). This Court reviews in turn Mr. Jordan's arguments as to Rules 60(a) and 60(b)(1); Rule 60(b)(2); Rules 60(b)(3) and 60(d)(3); Rule 60(b)(4); Rule 60(b)(5); and Rule 60(b)(6). Because ...


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