Federal Civil Procedure – Judgments – Use of Federal Rule 60(b)(6) to Adjust Forfeitures Downward

Defendant gained eight thousand dollars through thirty false cotton loan notes submitted to and paid by a government agency. The United States instituted a civil action under the False Claims Act, which provides that persons committing the prohibited acts shall pay to the United States a two-thousand-dollar forfeiture for each violation plus double the amount of damages sustained by the United States in the transactions. Judgment totalling sixty thousand dollars, or two thousand dollars on each of thirty false notes, was awarded the United States. On defendant’s motion to vacate the judgment under federal rule 60 (b) (6) on the ground that enforcement of the judgment would cause extreme hardship and injustice, held, motion granted on condition that defendant pay twenty thousand dollars in satisfaction of the judgment. Federal rule 60 (b) (6) gives district courts power to vacate judgments of forfeiture on terms that are just where the total forfeiture provided by statute would unjustly penalize defendant far beyond the degree commensurate with its gains. United States v. Cato Brothers, Inc., (E.D. Va. 1959) 175 F. Supp. 811, cert. den. 80 S. Ct. 753 (1960).