Brief Fact Summary.
Appellee demanded Appellant return her stolen painting in 1982, after the painting went missing in 1945. Appellant refused and Appellee brought a lawsuit for recovery. Appellant argued the statute of limitations had passed.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
It is proper to grant a Rule 60(b)(6) motion for relief when the final judgment was based on a federal court’s interpretation of state law now rejected by the highest court in the state.
Rule 60(b)(6) is properly invoked only when there are extraordinary circumstances justifying relief, when the judgment may work an extreme and undue hardship, and when the asserted grounds for relief are not recognized in clauses (1)-(5) of the Rule.View Full Point of Law
Gerda Dorothea DeWeerth’s (Appellee) Monet painting was stolen in 1945. In 1982, she learned that Edith Marks Baldinger (Appellant) had the painting and sent a letter demanding she return it. Appellant had bought the painting, in good faith, from a third party in 1957. Appellant refused the demand, and Appellee commenced a lawsuit in federal court, under diversity jurisdiction, to recover the painting. Appellant argued that the statute of limitations had passed.
Is it proper to grant relief to the Appellee from a prior judgment, based on a new case rejecting the prior judgment’s interpretation of the law?
Yes, the Rule 60(b)(6) motion is granted.
The District Court determined that it was proper to grant Appellee’s Rule 60(b)(6) motion based on the recent ruling in Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation v. Lubell. Coming from the highest court in New York, this case rejected the Second Circuit’s interpretation of the statute of limitations in DeWeerth v. Baldinger, and instead clarified that due diligence was not a requirement under the statute of limitations when bringing a claim for recovery of stolen paintings.