Seventh Circuit denies 'frivolous' appeal to reopen 'dormant' fraud case from 2014

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Sep 26, 2018

The Seventh Circuit Appellate Court affirmed district judge Michael J. Reagan’s order rejecting a woman’s attempt to reopen a fraud case that had been voluntarily dismissed four years ago.

Appellate justices Ilana Diamod Rovner, Michael B. Brennan, and Amy J. St. Eve presided over the “frivolous” appeal without hearing oral arguments. They filed the two-page nonprecedential disposition on Sept. 21. 

Plaintiff Donna K. Pearson voluntarily dismissed her suit against Barclay Bank of Delaware in 2014. Her suit alleged Barclay Bank and others had defrauded her. Her case was dormant until 2018 when she moved to reopen it.

Reagan denied the request because Pearson had not identified any ground that justified relief. 


He also ruled that reopening the case would allow Pearson “to gain a windfall of essentially a four year stay.”

Pearson appealed the order.

The appellate court called the appeal “frivolous.”

“Pearson asserts that the basis for her Rule 60(b) motion was ‘shock and surprise,’ a characterization that she does not elaborate upon.

“Her two-sentence motion says even less; it neither mentions Rule 60 nor hints at why she is entitled to relief. That second failure justified the court’s denial of her motion,” the decision states.

A Rule 60(b) motion seeks relief from a judgment or order. 

Further, Pearson’s appeal falls outside the one-year statute of limitations for her claim. 

“And taking things one step further, even if her motion could be construed under Rule 60(b)(6)’s ‘catchall’ provision, the motion could not have been granted unless she presented ‘extraordinary circumstances,’ … an implausible scenario given that she asked to dismiss her own case,” the decision states.

Pearson’s case was transferred to the Southern District of Illinois by U.S. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson of the Southern District of Indiana in 2013. 

Pearson originally filed her action in state court against Barclay Bank of Delaware, the CEO of Barclay Bank, the Board Members of Barclay Bank of Delaware, April Wauat, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. She filed suit after the Barclay defendants initiated an action against her in Cumberland County, Ill. 

Her claim was later removed to federal court in Indiana before making its way to Illinois. 

Magnus-Stinson wrote that Pearson filed identical documents in her Indiana federal court action and Barclay’s Illinois state court action, including a notice stating that she did not believe the Illinois state court had jurisdiction to adjudicate her case in light of her removal to Indiana federal court.

According to Magnus-Stinson, a case summary filed by Barclay shows that the Illinois state court ruled against Pearson following a Jan. 22, 2013 bench trial.

Magnus-Stinson held that even if the action filed against Pearson in Cumberland County was removable to federal court, it could only be removed to the Southern District of Illinois. 

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