Greenspahn v. Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, No. 8-100

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
Writing for the CourtL. HAND, , and SWAN and CHASE, Circuit
PartiesGREENSPAHN v. JOSEPH E. SEAGRAM & SONS, Inc.
Decision Date22 January 1951
Docket NumberNo. 8-100,Dockets 21539-21812.

186 F.2d 616 (1951)

GREENSPAHN
v.
JOSEPH E. SEAGRAM & SONS, Inc.

Nos. 8-100, Dockets 21539-21812.

United States Court of Appeals Second Circuit.

Argued December 7, 1950.

Decided January 22, 1951.


186 F.2d 617
COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED
186 F.2d 618
White & Case, New York City, Thomas Kiernan and James McCarron, New York City, of counsel, for appellant

Lorenz, Finn & Lorenz, New York City, Joseph Lorenz, New York City, of counsel, for appellee.

Before L. HAND, Chief Judge, and SWAN and CHASE, Circuit Judges.

SWAN, Circuit Judge.

The present litigation is the outgrowth of a suit for specific performance of contracts by Seagram & Sons, Inc. to sell to Greenspahn's assignor a large quantity of "Kentucky whiskey" to be produced during the months from January to June 1947. Federal jurisdiction of the suit rested on diverse citizenship of the parties. In that suit the court construed the contracts to call for "Seagram" whiskey and, as the defendant's answer admitted that it had on hand sufficient whiskey of its own distillation to perform the contracts, the plaintiff was awarded a decree of specific performance.1 From that decree, entered August 10, 1949, the defendant took an appeal. On January 6, 1950, while the appeal was pending, the plaintiff and the defendant, together with several of Greenspahn's relatives who had obtained a judgment against the defendant in a separate litigation in Illinois, joined in a stipulation to settle both suits. By the terms of the settlement agreement the defendant promised to perform the decree obtained by Greenspahn and to withdraw its appeal from said decree, and the Illinois plaintiffs agreed to accept in settlement of their judgment a much smaller sum than the amount thereof. After the stipulation had been signed the defendant discovered later on the same day that its own records showed that it did not have sufficient whiskey of its own distillation to enable it to perform the Greenspahn decree. The attorneys for the respective parties were notified of this discovery. Shortly thereafter the settlement with the Illinois plaintiffs was carried out, but the defendant has refused to withdraw its appeal in the Greenspahn case. With the leave of this court, on February 24, 1950 the defendant made a motion in the district court, under Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,2 to relieve it from the stipulation of settlement, to vacate the decree of August 10, 1949, to permit its answer to be amended and to hold a further hearing in said suit. After testimony was taken judge Abruzzo denied the defendant's motion by order dated September 5, 1950. The present appeal is from that order.

Before the defendant's motion was decided, the plaintiff moved in this court for dismissal of the defendant's appeal from the decree of August 10, 1949. We denied the motion with leave to renew it later. It has been renewed and is now before us for decision, together with the appeal from the order refusing to open the decree.

The first question concerns our appellate jurisdiction. That denial of a motion under Rule 60(b) to vacate a judgment is an appealable order was assumed without discussion in Ackerman v. United States, 340

186 F.2d 619
U.S. 193, 71 S.Ct. 209.3 It was expressly so held in Cromelin v. Markwalter, 5 Cir., 181 F.2d 948. A long line of cases might be cited in which it has been said that an order overruling a motion to open a decree and grant a rehearing "rests in the sound discretion of the court below, and no appeal will lie from it."4 But the rule has always been subject to not too clearly defined exceptions, sometimes characterized as an abuse of discretion.5 Whether review of an order denying a motion under Rule 60(b) is similarly limited is of no moment in the present case, for we see no abuse of discretion in judge Abruzzo's denial of the motion; consequently whether the appeal therefrom be dismissed or the order be affirmed is a purely formal distinction. But we are willing to go further and state our belief that the order is appealable as fully as any other final order. Rule 60(b) expressly provides that a motion made thereunder "does not affect the finality of a judgment or suspend its operation." An order denying such a motion puts an end to any further action by the district court and leaves the judgment in full force and effect. We think it is a final order and therefore appealable. So the Ackerman and Klaprott cases, supra, impliedly hold and so the Fifth Circuit expressly ruled in the Cromelin case, supra

The motion to open the decree of August 10, 1949 is grounded on allegations that performance of the decree is impossible because the defendant does not have, and has never had, whiskey of the kind which the decree directs it to deliver, and that this fact was not discovered by the defendant until January 6, 1950. Rule 60(b) permits a party to be relieved from a judgment for the following reasons: "(1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect; (2) newly discovered evidence which by due diligence could not have...

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53 practice notes
  • Kawauchi v. Tabata, No. 4399
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Hawai'i
    • March 30, 1966
    ...discoverable by diligent search.' 6 Moore, Federal Practice, § 59.08(3), at 3785 (2d ed. 1965). In Greenspahn v. Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, 186 F.2d 616, 619 (2d Cir. 1951), it was held that the condition of 'due diligence' is not met if the 'slightest investigation would have disclosed' the......
  • Bros Incorporated v. WE Grace Manufacturing Company, No. 19672.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • July 3, 1963
    ...motion was one under 60(b), the denial of April 17 was final and appealable. Greenspahn v. Joseph E. Segram & Sons, Inc., 2 Cir., 1951, 186 F. 2d 616, 3 Barron & Holtzoff, Federal Practice & Procedure § 1332, p. 434 (Wright ed. 1958); 7 Moore, Federal Practice, Par. 60.30, p. 334 (2d ed. 19......
  • Shay v. AGRICULTURAL STAB. & CONSERV. STATE COM. FOR ARIZ., No. 17236.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit
    • January 24, 1962
    ...111 F.2d 310, 312; Weilbacher v. J. H. Winchester & Co., 2 Cir., 1952, 197 F.2d 303; Greenspahn v. Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, 2 Cir., 1951, 186 F.2d 616; Cohen v. Beneficial Loan Corp., 1949, 337 U.S. 541, 546, 69 S.Ct. 1221, 93 L.Ed. 1528) The cases on which plaintiffs rely do not involve c......
  • Cinerama, Inc. v. Sweet Music, SA, No. 980
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • June 14, 1973
    ...Rule 60(b), as Cinerama's motion was, see F.R.Civ.P. 60(b) (6), is final and appealable, Greenspahn v. Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, Inc., 186 F.2d 616, 619 (2 Cir. 1951); Brennan v. Midwestern United Life Ins. Co., 450 F.2d 999, 1003-1004 (7 Cir. 1971), cert. denied, Herriman v. Mid-Western Li......
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53 cases
  • Kawauchi v. Tabata, No. 4399
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Hawai'i
    • March 30, 1966
    ...discoverable by diligent search.' 6 Moore, Federal Practice, § 59.08(3), at 3785 (2d ed. 1965). In Greenspahn v. Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, 186 F.2d 616, 619 (2d Cir. 1951), it was held that the condition of 'due diligence' is not met if the 'slightest investigation would have disclosed' the......
  • Bros Incorporated v. WE Grace Manufacturing Company, No. 19672.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • July 3, 1963
    ...motion was one under 60(b), the denial of April 17 was final and appealable. Greenspahn v. Joseph E. Segram & Sons, Inc., 2 Cir., 1951, 186 F. 2d 616, 3 Barron & Holtzoff, Federal Practice & Procedure § 1332, p. 434 (Wright ed. 1958); 7 Moore, Federal Practice, Par. 60.30, p. 334 (2d ed. 19......
  • Shay v. AGRICULTURAL STAB. & CONSERV. STATE COM. FOR ARIZ., No. 17236.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit
    • January 24, 1962
    ...111 F.2d 310, 312; Weilbacher v. J. H. Winchester & Co., 2 Cir., 1952, 197 F.2d 303; Greenspahn v. Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, 2 Cir., 1951, 186 F.2d 616; Cohen v. Beneficial Loan Corp., 1949, 337 U.S. 541, 546, 69 S.Ct. 1221, 93 L.Ed. 1528) The cases on which plaintiffs rely do not involve c......
  • Cinerama, Inc. v. Sweet Music, SA, No. 980
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • June 14, 1973
    ...Rule 60(b), as Cinerama's motion was, see F.R.Civ.P. 60(b) (6), is final and appealable, Greenspahn v. Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, Inc., 186 F.2d 616, 619 (2 Cir. 1951); Brennan v. Midwestern United Life Ins. Co., 450 F.2d 999, 1003-1004 (7 Cir. 1971), cert. denied, Herriman v. Mid-Western Li......
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