Douglas v. Kemp, Civ. A. No. 85-1283 SSH.

CourtUnited States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
Writing for the CourtDavid H. Shapiro, Washington, D.C., for plaintiff
Citation721 F. Supp. 358
PartiesBessie DOUGLAS, Plaintiff, v. Jack KEMP, Secretary, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Defendant.
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 85-1283 SSH.
Decision Date03 October 1989

721 F. Supp. 358

Bessie DOUGLAS, Plaintiff,
v.
Jack KEMP, Secretary, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Defendant.

Civ. A. No. 85-1283 SSH.

United States District Court, District of Columbia.

October 3, 1989.


David H. Shapiro, Washington, D.C., for plaintiff.

Diane Sullivan, Asst. U.S. Atty., Washington, D.C., for defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

STANLEY S. HARRIS, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for Relief from the September 7, 1988 Judgment of the Court. Upon consideration of plaintiff's motion, defendant's opposition, plaintiff's reply, and the entire record, plaintiff's motion is denied.

In April 1985, plaintiff filed a pro se complaint claiming that defendant discriminated against her on the basis of age (60), race (white), and sex (female). Because the complaint was not properly served on defendant, the case was dismissed without prejudice. Shortly thereafter, plaintiff retained counsel, Mr. James E. Mercer. Mercer properly filed the complaint, and requested

721 F. Supp. 359
that the Court reconsider its Order. The Court granted plaintiff's motion. A normal discovery period followed. Mercer then requested permission to file an amended complaint, which the Court denied. The Court has carefully reviewed the record and finds no reason to believe that Mercer did not provide good, if not outstanding, counsel during the discovery period

On June 24, 1986, defendant moved for summary judgment. Plaintiff's counsel requested two extensions of time so that he could oppose defendant's motion.1 He was not idle during that time. He filed a motion to amend the complaint for the second time, participated in a deposition of plaintiff, and moved for sanctions. On July 28, 1986, plaintiff's counsel filed a five-page memorandum in opposition to defendant's motion. This opposition later was amended. Defendant filed a reply brief on August 5, 1986. Unfortunately, sometime during that period, plaintiff's counsel, Mercer, stopped taking his lithium prescription. Apparently, Mercer is a manic depressive who led (and now leads) a normal life when taking his prescribed lithium.2 Mercer's mental health began to decline after he stopped taking his lithium. As a result he stopped eating and sleeping and began to have auditory and visual hallucinations. On October 21, 1986, he was hospitalized at St. Elizabeths. Plaintiff's Motion, Exhibit 8. In late October it was estimated that Mercer was ill for three to four months. See Plaintiff's Motion, Exhibit 7. Mercer was suspended from the practice of law on October 31, 1986.

The Court became aware of Mercer's illness at a relatively earlier stage, by virtue of the fact that Mercer's then-law partner consulted the undersigned with respect to certain aspects of the problem on a number of occasions. After Mercer was hospitalized, the Court did not hurry to rule on defendant's motion for summary judgment. For almost a year the Court's chambers were contacted by a series of attorneys who indicated they expected to take on plaintiff's case.3 Finally, on April 2, 1987, the Court received a praecipe notifying the Clerk of the Court of the appearance of John L. McGann as counsel of record. The Court then waited an additional year, thinking that plaintiff's new counsel might wish to amend the record or act in some affirmative manner. See earlier Memorandum Opinion. Finally, it became apparent that McGann did not intend to alter or supplement Mercer's response to the motion, and thus the Court ruled. Given the unusual circumstances, the Court gave careful attention to the motion, the opposition, and the entire record. In a 26-page Memorandum Opinion, the Court granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment and dismissed the case.

Shortly after this Court's Memorandum Opinion, present counsel filed a praecipe of appearance and filed a timely appeal on plaintiff's behalf. In the course of the appeal, the present motion was filed.

Plaintiff makes a Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(6) request that the Court grant her relief from the September 7, 1988, ruling. Defendant opposes. Plaintiff alleges that Mercer's illness prevented him from adequately representing her, not only in opposing the motion for summary judgment, but also in the entire discovery period. Plaintiff further claims that her diligence in trying to get counsel and McGann's reassurance that he was properly prosecuting her case should relieve her of any responsibility for McGann's decision not to seek to...

To continue reading

Request your trial
2 practice notes
  • Goldschmidt v. Paley Rothman Goldstein, No. 03-CV-1367.
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • November 8, 2007
    ...circumstance," the moving party must, at a minimum, show a causal nexus between the illness and the adverse ruling. See Douglas v. Kemp, 721 F.Supp. 358, 360 & n. 4 (D.D.C.1989) (the court must focus on the effect of the attorney's illness on the client's case).3 In light of these omissions......
  • Oborski v. Colvin, CIVIL ACTION NO. 3:14-2237
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Pennsylvania
    • November 12, 2015
    ...basis for grant of 60(b)(6) motion); United States v. 59.88. Acres of Land, 734 F. Supp. 555 (D. Mass. 1990); Douglas v. Kemp, 721 F.Supp. 358 (D.D.C. 1989) (counsel's illness insufficient basis for grant of 60(b)(6) motion). Although sympathetic to both the plaintiff's and counsel's circum......
2 cases
  • Goldschmidt v. Paley Rothman Goldstein, No. 03-CV-1367.
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • November 8, 2007
    ...circumstance," the moving party must, at a minimum, show a causal nexus between the illness and the adverse ruling. See Douglas v. Kemp, 721 F.Supp. 358, 360 & n. 4 (D.D.C.1989) (the court must focus on the effect of the attorney's illness on the client's case).3 In light of these omissions......
  • Oborski v. Colvin, CIVIL ACTION NO. 3:14-2237
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Pennsylvania
    • November 12, 2015
    ...basis for grant of 60(b)(6) motion); United States v. 59.88. Acres of Land, 734 F. Supp. 555 (D. Mass. 1990); Douglas v. Kemp, 721 F.Supp. 358 (D.D.C. 1989) (counsel's illness insufficient basis for grant of 60(b)(6) motion). Although sympathetic to both the plaintiff's and counsel's circum......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT