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Bouret-Echevarria v. Caribbean Aviation Maintenance Corp.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

April 24, 2015

LIZZETTE M. BOURET-ECHEVARRÍA, in her own capacity and in representation of her minor children; N.V.-B., minor; C. V.-B, minor; C. V. -B., minor, Plaintiffs, Appellants,
v.
CARIBBEAN AVIATION MAINTENANCE CORP.; ROBINSON HELICOPTER COMPANY; CHARTIS INSURANCE COMPANY OF PUERTO RICO, a/k/a American International Insurance Company of Puerto Rico; PATHFINDER INDEMNITY COMPANY LTD.; D& O AVIATION, INC., Defendants, Appellees, JOSÉ ANTONIO MONTANO; DIEGO VIDAL-LAMPÓN; IRMA IRIS VIDAL-GONZÁLEZ; MARINIEVES VIDAL-GONZÁLEZ; DIEGO VIDAL-SHIRLEY, Plaintiffs, INSURANCE COMPANIES X, Y, AND Z; CORPORATIONS A, B AND C; JOHN DOE; RICHARD ROE; ABC INSURANCE COMPANIES; DEF INSURANCE COMPANY; JANE DOE, CORP.; JKL INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendants

Page 38

APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF PUERTO RICO Hon. Gustavo A. Gelpí, U.S. District Judge.

David P. Angueira for appellants.

Tim A. Goetz, with whom Cathrine E. Tauscher was on brief, for appellee Robinson Helicopter Company. Tim A. Goetz, with whom Cathrine E. Tauscher was on brief, for appellee Robinson Helicopter Company.

Louis R. Martí nez for appellees Caribbean Aviation Maintenance Corp. and Chartis Insurance Company of Puerto Rico.

Before Torruella, Lipez, and Barron, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 39

LIPEZ, Circuit Judge.

This case arose from a helicopter crash in November 2008 that killed a passenger in the helicopter, Diego Vidal-Gonzalez. The decedent's widow, Dr. Lizzette Bouret-Echevarria, and her three minor children (together " appellants" ), brought a products liability action against the helicopter's manufacturer and repair company. The jury absolved all defendants of liability.

Appellants claim that eighteen months after the jury returned its verdict, they were told that the verdict was influenced by the jurors' improper knowledge of a confidential settlement offer. In this appeal, they challenge the district court's rejection of their request for an evidentiary hearing, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(6), to explore the alleged jury taint.

Page 40

In denying this request, the district court miscalculated the timeliness of the motion, did not assume, as required by law, the truth of fact-specific statements set forth in affidavits supporting the Rule 60(b)(6) motion, and did not appreciate the inability of appellants, under the unusual circumstances here, to avoid reliance on hearsay in seeking Rule 60(b)(6) relief. Hence, we conclude that the court abused its discretion in denying the motion for 60(b) relief without holding an evidentiary hearing. We therefore vacate the court's order and remand for such a hearing.

I.

A. Background


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