427 F.3d 1015 (6th Cir. 2005), 04-4225, Violette v. P.A. Days, Inc.

Docket Nº:04-4225.
Citation:427 F.3d 1015
Party Name:Robert L. VIOLETTE, an individual, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. P.A. DAYS, INC.; Ricart Properties, Inc., Defendants-Appellants.
Case Date:November 03, 2005
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
 
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Page 1015

427 F.3d 1015 (6th Cir. 2005)

Robert L. VIOLETTE, an individual, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees,

v.

P.A. DAYS, INC.; Ricart Properties, Inc., Defendants-Appellants.

No. 04-4225.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

November 3, 2005

        Submitted: September 13, 2005

        Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio at Columbus. No. 01-01254—Algenon L. Marbley, District Judge.

Page 1016

        COUNSEL

        ON BRIEF:

        Sarah D. Morrison, CHESTER, WILLCOX & SAXBE, Columbus, Ohio, for Appellants.

        Geoffrey J. Moul, MURRAY, MURPHY, MOUL & BASIL, Columbus, Ohio, James Patrick Connors, LAW OFFICES OF JAMES P. CONNORS, Columbus, Ohio, for Appellees.

        Before: BOGGS, Chief Judge; and NORRIS and COOK, Circuit Judges.

        OPINION

        BOGGS, Chief Judge

        This case presents the court with a narrow legal question regarding the proper application of Rule 6(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Appellants are defendants in a consumer class action lawsuit in which the parties reached a preliminary settlement in December 2003. Appellants challenge the district court's order granting plaintiffs' motion to include in the list of those who excluded themselves from the class settlement two class members whose opt-out forms were postmarked on February 17, 2004, the first business day after the court-ordered deadline of Saturday, February 14. The district court concluded that Rule 6(a) mandates that forms postmarked on the first business day following the court's Saturday deadline were timely filed. On appeal, appellants contend that Rule 6(a) applies only to situations where parties must compute deadlines based on the passage of a fixed number of days and, therefore, the Rule does not apply to situations where the court has established a specific calendar day as a deadline. We agree, and reverse the district court.

        I

        In December 2003, the parties to a consumer class action lawsuit reached a global, class-wide settlement of litigation. On December 12, 2003, the district court preliminarily approved the settlements and, pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, ordered that "[a]ny class member who wishes to opt out of the class shall mail by U.S. or overnight mail, postmarked no later than February 14, 2004, an opt-out form" that the defendants would mail to every known class member by December 31, 2003. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(c)(2)(B). Accordingly, the parties mailed notices to more than 130,000 class members and published advertisements in seven newspapers. The mailed notices clearly stated that the exclusion form must be postmarked by February 14. February 14, 2004 happened to fall on a Saturday, and the following Monday was Presidents' Day, a federal holiday. While more than six hundred class members returned their forms within the specified time, the forms from two individuals were postmarked on February 17, the first business day following the court's Saturday deadline.

        The district court gave final approval to the settlements on March 16, 2004. The court amended those orders on July 30, 2004 because it had inadvertently omitted the list of persons who had opted out of the class settlement in a timely fashion. By that time, controversy had arisen over the two exclusion forms postmarked on February 17, so the court set the matter for oral argument on August 20, 2004. Neither party cited any case law in the briefs they submitted in advance of this hearing. On September 2, the district court, relying entirely on a ruling from a sister circuit and citing no law from this circuit, granted plaintiffs' motion. Specifically, the district court ruled that the two forms had been filed in a timely fashion under Rule 6(a) because there...

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