Vargas v. J Morales Inc.

Decision Date02 June 2022
Docket Number82218
Parties Max VARGAS, Individually, Appellant, v. J MORALES INC., Respondent.
CourtNevada Supreme Court

Peralta Law Group and Oscar Peralta, Las Vegas, for Appellant.

Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP and Ogonna M. Brown and Adrienne R. Brantley-Lomeli, Las Vegas, for Respondent.

BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT, HARDESTY, STIGLICH, and HERNDON, JJ.

OPINION

By the Court, HERNDON, J.:

NRCP 60(b) provides various grounds for relief from a final judgment, including mistake or excusable neglect, see NRCP 60(b)(1), newly discovered evidence, see NRCP 60(b)(2), fraud, see NRCP 60(b)(3), or "any other reason that justifies relief," see NRCP 60(b)(6). Any such relief must be sought within a "reasonable time" and, more specifically, when the relief is sought under NRCP 60(b)(1), (2), or (3), within 6 months after service of written notice of the judgment's entry. See NRCP 60(c)(1). Furthermore, NRAP 3A(b)(8) provides for appeals from "[a] special order entered after final judgment, excluding an order granting a motion to set aside a default judgment under NRCP 60(b)(1) when the motion was filed and served within 60 days after entry of the default judgment."

The instant appeal was taken from a district court order that granted a motion for relief from a default judgment under NRCP 60(b)(1) and (6), although the motion was filed over 14 months after service of written notice of entry of the default judgment.

In resolving this appeal, we address two separate issues. First, we clarify that, per NRAP 3A(b)(8), this court has appellate jurisdiction over orders granting NRCP 60(b)(1) relief when the motion is filed more than 60 days after entry of judgment. Second, we clarify that the "any other reason that justifies relief" provision under NRCP 60(b)(6) is mutually exclusive of the relief provided in NRCP 60(b)(1)-(5) and may not be used to circumvent the 6-month time constraints imposed under that rule. Applying these principles, we conclude that we have jurisdiction over this appeal but that the underlying NRCP 60(b)(1) motion was untimely because it was filed more than 6 months after written notice of the default judgment's entry was served. Furthermore, because the requested relief was based on allegations constituting only mistake or excusable neglect, which fall under NRCP 60(b)(1), relief under NRCP 60(b)(6) was not available. Thus, the district court abused its discretion in granting NRCP 60(b) relief. Accordingly, we reverse the district court's order and remand this matter for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Appellant Max Vargas filed a complaint alleging that he was attacked by security guards on a premises owned by respondent J Morales Inc. (JMI) and that JMI was negligent in its duty to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition. JMI was served with the complaint through its registered agent on February 16, 2018. It is undisputed that Jose Morales, the owner and sole corporate officer for JMI, received the complaint but did not follow up on it. Instead, he allegedly relied on the advice of his insurance agent, who told him he was not liable in the matter because he did not own the subject property at the time of the incident. On April 13, 2018, default was entered against JMI, and JMI was properly served with a copy of the notice of entry of default on April 17, 2018. Subsequently, a default judgment of over $1.7 million in compensatory and punitive damages was entered against JMI on July 25, 2019, and JMI was served with notice of entry of the default judgment on August 6, 2019. JMI, however, claims that it learned about the judgment in September 2020, when its bank account was garnished.

On October 26, 2020, over 14 months after entry of the default judgment, JMI filed a motion to set aside the judgment and stay execution on the grounds of mistake or excusable neglect under NRCP 60(b)(1) and "any other reason justifying relief" under NRCP 60(b)(6). The district court granted JMI's motion, finding sufficient grounds for relief under both NRCP 60(b)(1) and (6).

DISCUSSION

This court has jurisdiction over this appeal

As a preliminary matter, JMI asserts that this court lacks appellate jurisdiction over this matter, pointing to Estate of Adams v. Fallini, 132 Nev. 814, 816, 386 P.3d 621, 623 (2016), which determined that an order granting relief from fraud upon the court under NRCP 60(b)(3) was not appealable. We take this opportunity to clarify that we have appellate jurisdiction over orders granting an NRCP 60(b)(1) motion that was filed more than 60 days after entry of a default judgment.

This court has jurisdiction to consider an appeal only when authorized by statute or court rule. Taylor Constr. Co. v. Hilton Hotels Corp., 100 Nev. 207, 209, 678 P.2d 1152, 1153 (1984). NRAP 3A(b)(8) provides for appeals from "[a] special order entered after final judgment, excluding an order granting a motion to set aside a default judgment under NRCP 60(b)(1) when the motion was filed and served within 60 days after entry of the default judgment." (Emphasis added.) To be appealable, a special order entered after final judgment "must be an order affecting the rights of some party to the action, growing out of the judgment previously-entered ... affecting rights incorporated in the judgment." Gumm v. Mainor , 118 Nev. 912, 914, 59 P.3d 1220, 1221 (2002).

In 1978, NRAP 3A(b)1 was amended to exclude orders granting NRCP 60(b)(1) motions made within 60 days after entry of a default judgment from the ambit of appealable special orders. Before then, this court regularly accepted appeals from orders setting aside judgments, implicitly treating such orders as special orders entered after a final judgment. See, e.g., Helitzer Advert., Inc. v. Seven Star Media Corp., 89 Nev. 411, 412, 514 P.2d 214, 214 (1973) (appeal from order setting aside); Johnston, Inc. v. Weinstein, 88 Nev. 7, 9, 492 P.2d 616, 617 (1972) (same); Blakeney v. Fremont Hotel, Inc., 77 Nev. 191, 193, 360 P.2d 1039, 1040 (1961) ("[A]ppeal is from the order setting aside the entry of default and the judgment."); Cicerchia v. Cicerchia, 77 Nev. 158, 159, 360 P.2d 839, 840 (1961) (same).

In 2004, we confirmed in Lindblom v. Prime Hospital Corp., that "[a]n order setting aside a default judgment is appealable as a special order after judgment if the motion to set aside is made more than sixty days after entry of the judgment." 120 Nev. 372, 374 n.1, 90 P.3d 1283, 1284 n.1 (2004). Subsequently, in Fallini , we concluded that an order granting NRCP 60(b)(3) relief for fraud upon the court was interlocutory and not appealable, having merged with the final judgment.

132 Nev. 814, 816, 386 P.3d 621, 623 (2016) (emphasis added). More recently, in Meisel v. Archstone Investment Partners, LP , we cited NRAP 3A(b)(8) and Lindblom in concluding that this court had jurisdiction over an appeal from a district court order granting NRCP 60(b)(1) relief through a motion filed more than 6 months after the entry of judgment. See No. 68122, 2017 WL 4618618, at *1 n.1 (Nev. Oct. 13, 2017) (Order of Reversal and Remand).

While JMI contends that Fallini abrogated Lindblom , JMI overlooks the fact that Fallini dealt only with the narrow instance where the NRCP 60(b) motion was granted for fraud upon the court pursuant to NRCP 60(b)(3). That is not the issue presented here and was not the issue raised in Lindblom or Meisel. The sole issue here is this court's jurisdiction over NRCP 60(b)(1) orders. And we see no reason to depart from our previous decisions— Lindblom and Meisel —that specifically acknowledged our appellate jurisdiction over orders granting NRCP 60(b)(1) motions filed more than 60 days after the entry of judgment.

We now explicitly hold that all orders granting NRCP 60(b)(1) motions filed more than 60 days after entry of the judgment are appealable as special orders in accordance with Lindblom, Meisel, and the plain language of NRAP 3A(b)(8).2 See also Gumm, 118 Nev. at 914, 59 P.3d at 1221. A contrary holding would render the 60-day exception in NRAP 3A(b)(8) meaningless. Moreover, Nevada has a long-standing history of treating orders granting NRCP 60(b)(1) motions as special orders after final judgment, see generally Banks v. Heater, 95 Nev. 610, 600 P.2d 245 (1979) (impliedly determining the court's jurisdiction by reviewing the district court's NRCP 60(b)(1) order); Ogle v. Miller, 87 Nev. 573, 491 P.2d 40 (1971) (same), and this court in Fallini seemingly did not intend to overturn this long-standing practice.

Here, the district court's order granted a motion to set aside the default judgment filed and served over 60 days after entry of the default judgment, thus falling outside the exclusion in NRAP 3A(b)(8). Thus, this court is authorized to consider Vargas's challenge to the order, and we must now turn to the merits of Vargas's appeal.

The district court abused its discretion in granting NRCP 60(b) relief

The district court has wide discretion to grant or deny a motion to set aside a judgment under NRCP 60(b), and its determination will not be disturbed on appeal absent an abuse of that discretion. See Cook v. Cook , 112 Nev. 179, 181-82, 912 P.2d 264, 265 (1996). A district court may abuse its discretion in ruling on an NRCP 60(b)(1) motion if it disregards legal principles, Willard v. Berry-Hinckley Industries, 136 Nev. 467, 469, 469 P.3d 176, 179 (2020).

JMI's NRCP 60(b)(1) motion was untimely

Generally, an aggrieved party must seek relief under NRCP 60(b) "within a reasonable time." NRCP 60(c)(1). However, a motion seeking relief under NRCP 60(b)(1)must be filed within 6 months of service of written notice of entry of the judgment. NRCP 60(c)(1) ; see also Doan v. Wilkerson , 130 Nev. 449, 454, 327 P.3d 498, 501 (2014) (providing that any NRCP 60(b)(1) motion filed outside of 6 months is untimely and must be denied), superseded by statute on other grounds as recognized in Kilgore v. Kilgore , 135...

To continue reading

Request your trial
3 cases
  • Nuri v. Jarso
    • United States
    • Nevada Supreme Court
    • May 12, 2023
    ... ... our jurisdiction over orders granting relief pursuant to NRCP ... 60(b), see Vargas v. J Morales, Inc., 138 Nev., Adv ... Op. 38, 510 P.3d 777, 778 (2022) (recognizing that the ... ...
  • Arline v. Wright
    • United States
    • Nevada Court of Appeals
    • May 30, 2023
    ... ... of that discretion." See Vargas v. J Morales ... Inc., 138 Nev., Adv. Op. 38, 510 P.3d 777, 780 (2022) ... (citing Cook ... ...
  • In re Ballard
    • United States
    • Nevada Supreme Court
    • September 14, 2023
    ...civil proceedings at issue. Thus, the district court properly denied the motion.[2] See Vargas v. J Morales Inc., 138 3 Nev., Adv. Op. 38, 510 P.3d 777, 780 (2022) (reviewing a district court's NR'CP 60(b) determinations for an abuse of discretion). We therefore ORDER the judgment of the di......

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