Rethinking Extraordinary Circumstances
106 Northwestern University Law Review 377 (2012)
10 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2011 Last revised: 12 Nov 2012
Date Written: November 8, 2011
This short Essay seeks to rationalize the “extraordinary circumstances” requirement of Rule 60(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Under the Supreme Court’s Ackermann decision, any extraordinary circumstances justifying relief must not have been caused by the movant’s own litigation conduct. I argue that the Ackermann rule, at its broadest, would be unjust to those litigants most in need of Rule 60(b)(6) relief and would overserve finality interests. A case study of the recent Fourth Circuit case Aikens v. Ingram illustrates these points. I propose, contrary to Aikens, that the Ackermann rule should apply more narrowly: only to a movant who intentionally abandons the litigation.
Keywords: Ackermann, 60(b)(6), Rule 60, extraordinary circumstances, exceptional circumstances, aikens, relief from judgment
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