Fed. R. Civ. P. 60, titled “Grounds for Relief from a Final Judgment, Order, or Proceeding,” is generally invoked to vacate a judgment because of alleged misconduct, mistake, newly-discovered evidence, or other equitable reasons. Clause (5) of that rule also allows relief if “the judgment has been satisfied, released, or discharged; it is based on an earlier judgment that has been reversed or vacated; or applying it prospectively is no longer equitable.” That provision — and specifically, its rarely-litigated first clause — was at issue in Frew v. Janek, in which the Texas Health and Human Services Commission argued that it had fully performed under a consent decree related to the operation of a Medicaid program. No. 14-40048 (March 5, 2015). Construing the decree “according to ‘general principles of contract interpretation,'” and declining to apply the law of the case doctrine to the interpretation of the decree by the judge who entered the order, the Fifth Circuit found no error in the district court’s ruling that the defendants had complied with the order and performed fully.
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