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CASE NO .1:10-cv-24590-K ING
COM PANY,a foreign corporation,asequitable
subrogee and realparty intereston behalf of
M iller& Solomon GeneralContractors,lnc.,



COM PAN Y,a foreign corporation,
D efendant.
COM PAN Y,a foreign corporation,asequitable
subrogee and realpm'ty in intereston behalf of
M iller& Solomon GeneralContractors,lnc.,
V S.


IN SUM N CE COM PANY ,a foreign
TH IS CAUSE com es before the Court upon the parties' Joint M otion to Vacate

Certain Ordersand FinalJudgments(DE 242).Thisisaclosed case.On June 15,2012,the

Courtgranted the defendants'motions for summary judgment againstPlaintiff,Hartford

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Accident and Indemnity Company (dillartford''),and entered finaljudgments accordingly.

SeeDE 194-197.H artford appealed.See DE 199 & 200.
W hile on appeal,the parties attended a m ediation conference, as directed by the

Eleventh Circuit,l but failed to reach an agreem ent. The Eleventh Circuit heard oral
argum ents and,m ore than one year later,sua sponte referred the parties to m ediation again.
ln this second m ediation,the parties reaehed a tentative settlem ent agreement- tentative
because itSsisexpressly conditioned and contingentupon theissuance ofa final,written order
vacating''thisCourt's d'Sum m ary Judgm ents and the resulting CostOrders....''DE 242,at

3;seeDE 242-2.Butratherthan seek vacaturin theappellateCourtunder28 U.S.C.j2106,

thepartiesmoved forithereunderFederalRule ofCivilProcedure60(b)(6).2Thereafter,the

Eleventh Circuitgranted theparties'lsgjjointmotion to stay proceedingson appealpending

theDistrictCourt'sdecision ontheirjointmotionto vacatecertainorders.''DE 244,at2.For
thereasonsthatfollow,the Courtdeniestheparties'm otion.


$iAs a generalm atter,the filing of a notice of appealdeprives the district courtof

jurisdiction over al1issues involved in the appeal.''Mahone v.Ray,326 F.3d 1176,1179

(11th Cir.2003).'il-lowever,itdoes notpreventthe districtcourtfrom taking action $in

furtherance ofthe appeal,'''which includes isthatdistrictcourtsretainjurisdiction afterthe

1Thisisaccording to theparties. They provided no record ofthisdirective.
2 Ifthe parties had m oved for vacatur in the Eleventh Circuit, that courtwould have been
entitled to 'srem and the case with instructions that the district courtconsider the request,

which itmay do so pursuantto federalruleofCivilProcedure60(b).''U S.Bancorp M ortg.

C<).v.BonnerMallP 'shlp,513 U.S.18,29 (1994).

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filing ofa notice of appealto entertain and deny a Rule 60(b) motion.'' 1179-80

(cltation omitted).tillowever,foltowing thetlling ofanotice ofappealdistrictcourtsdo not

possessjurisdiction tograntaRule60(b)motion.''f#.at1180(emphasisadded).
Accordingly,adistrictcourtpresented with aRule60(b)motion afteranotice
of appealhas been filed should consider the m otion and assess its merits. It
m ay then deny the motion orindicate its beliefthatthe argum ents raised are
m eritorious.Ifthe districtcourtselects the lattercourse,the movantm ay then

petition the courtofappealsto remand thematterso asto conferjurisdiction

on the districtcourtto grantthe m otion.

1d.This procedure is codified in FederalRule of Civil Procedure 62.1,Federal Rule of

Appellate Procedure 12.1,and Eleventh CircuitRule 12.1-1.

UnderRule60(b)(6),$$(o)n motion andjustterms,thecourtm ay relieveaparty orits

legalrepresentative from a finaljudgment,order,or proceeding for''ltany ...reason that

justitses relief.''The rule enables courts flto vacate judgments whenever such action is
appropriate to accomplish justice.'...M otions under the rule are directed to the sound
discretion ofthe districtcourt.''Gr#hn v.Swim-Tech Corp.,722 F.2d 677,680 (11th Cir.
1984)(quotingKlapprottv.United States,335 U.S.601,615 (1949)).Therefore,thisCourt
mustdeterm inewhethervacating itspriorordersto fulfilla condition ofthe parties'tentative

settlementon appealisappropriateto accomplishjustice.



AzTheBancorp Decision
ln U S.Bancorp M ortg. Co.v.Bonner M allP '
shlp,513 U.S.18, 19 (1994),the
Suprem e Courtconsidered dwhetherappellate courtsin the federalsystem should vacatecivil

judgments of subordinate courts in cases thatare settled afterappealis filed orcertiorari


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sought.''In thatcase,BonnerM allPartnership (the iipartnership'')defaulted on itsrealestate

taxes.f#.U.S.Bancorp M ortgage Co.(sBancorp''),who had acquired aloan and mortgage
secured by the realestate,scheduled a foreclosure sale.1d.The day before the sale, the

Partnership petitioned for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. 1d. Bancorp m oved to suspend the
autom atic stay ofits foreclosure,which m otion the bankruptcy courtgranted.1d.at20.The
United StatesD istrictCourtforthe Districtofldaho reversed the bankruptcy court,and the
United States Courtof Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirm ed.1d.A fter the United States
Supreme Courtgranted Bancorp's petition fora writofcertiorari,the parties stipulated to a
consensual plan of reorganization, which the bankruptcy court approved. 1d. The
S'confirm ation of the plan constituted a settlem entthatm ooted the case,''butBancorp was

notcompletely satistied.ltasked the Supreme Courtto vacatethejudgmentofthe Courtof


Theresultwasaunanimousopinion in which theSupremeCourtstrongly rejected the

idea that ilcoul'
ts should vacate where m ootness results from a settlem ent.''1d.at23.The
t reviewed and described its then-leading case on vacatur, United States

M unsingwear,Inc.,340U.S.36(1950):
W e stated thatiigtjhe established practice oftheCourtin dealing with a civil
case from a courtin the federalsystem which has becom e m ootwhile on its
way here or pending our decision on the m erits is to reverse or vacate the

judgmentbelow and remand with a direction to dismiss.''...W e ksexplained

thatvacatur ltclears the path for future relitigation of the issues betw een the

parties and eliminates a judgment,review ofwhich was prevented through


1d.at22-23 (quoting M unsingwear,340 U.S.at39,40).The Courtthen surveyed post-

M unsingwearprecedent,and concluded thatitgtjheprinciplesthathave alwaysbeen implicit


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in ourtreatm entofm ootcases counselagainstextending M unsingwearto settlem ent.''

24.The Courtreasoned that,in considering whether to grant vacatur based on m ootness,

Ssgtqheprincipalcondition to which wehave looked iswhethertheparty seeking relieffrom

thejudgmentbelow causedthemootnessbyvoluntary action.''f#.

A party who seeks review ofthe merits of an adverse ruling,butis frustrated
by the vagariesofcircum stance,oughtnotin fairnessbe forced to acquiesce in

thejudgment.SeeHamburg-Amerikanische,supra,239 U.S.,at477-478,36
S.Ct., at 216-217.The sam e is true when m ootness results from unilateral
action of the party who prevailed below .See Walling,321 U .S.,at 675,64
S.Ct., at 828; H eitmuller, supra, 256 U .S., at 362, 41 S.Ct., at 523-524.
W here m ootness results from settlem ent, however, the losing party has
voluntarily forfeited his legalrem edy by the ordinary processes of appealor
certiorari,thereby surrendering his claim to the equitable remedy ofvacatur.

Thejudgmentisnotunreviewable,butsimplyunreviewedby hisown choice.

Id at25 (emphasisadded)(footnote om itted).The Supreme Courtconcluded thatbecause
the losing party below bears the burden of proving iequitable entitlem ent to the
extraordinary remedy of vacatur,''thatparty's Ssvoluntary forfeiture of review constitutes a
failure ofequity thatm akesthe burden decisive''againstvacatur.1d.at26.
ln reaching its decision,the Bancorp Courtalso took account ofthe public interest.

The Courtfirstemphasized the presumptive correctnessand value ofjudicialprecedentsto

the legalcom munity asa whole.1d.Itthen concluded thatthepublic interestwasbestserved
by honoring the dem ands oforderly procedure- i.e.the ordinary appellate process- rather
than by allowing diaparty who stepsoffthe statutory path to employ the secondary rem edy of

vacaturasarefsned form ofcollateralattack onthejudgment.''1d.at27.TheCourtheld that

imootnessby reason ofsettlementdoesnotjustitk vacaturofajudgmentunderreview.''1d.

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Nearthe end ofthe Bancolp Opinion,however,the Courtallowed foran undetsned

Thisisnotto say thatvacaturcan neverbe granted when m ootnessisproduced
in thatfashion.A s we have described,the determ ination is an equitable one,
and exceptional circum stances m ay conceivably counsel in favor of such a
course.ltshould be clearfrom ourdiscussion,however,thatthose exceptional
circum stances do not include the mere fact that the settlem ent agreem ent
provides for vacatur- which neither diminishes the voluntariness of the
abandonm ent of review nor alters any ofthe policy considerations w e have
This statem ent has lef'
t lower courts with the am bitious task of determ ining what
circum stancesare 'kexceptional''enough to counterm and the presumptive value ofprecedent,
the imperative to honor the dem ands of orderly procedure, and the failure of equity that
ordinarily resultsfrom an appellant'svoluntary forteiture ofreview .

K PosL-Bancorp'theCircuitsFind idExceptionalCircumstances''
By allowing forthepossibility ofkexceptionalcircum stances,''the Suprem e Courtdid
notcom pletely close the doorto vacatur based on m ootness by reason of settlem ent.Itleft

the doorajar,and some tbderalappellate courtshave walked rightthrough it.The parties

urge this Courtto follow the examples of two opinions fkom the Firstand Second Circuit

Thefirstopinionthatthepartiesrelyon isM ottav.DistrictDirectorqf.

J.M uv.,61F.3d
117 (1stCir.1995).There,in ahabeascorpusaction,theUnited StatesDistrictCourtforthe
District of M assachusetts itstayed gM otta'sl deportation untilthe Board of lmmigration
Appeals(i$BlA'')could issueadecisiononM otta'spending motion toreopenhisdeportation
proceeding,and forninety daysthereafterto perm itreview ofthatdecision,ifnecessary,''by

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the First Circuit.f#. at 118.The IN S appealed the district court's ruling before the BIA
issued a decision./#.D uring oralargum ent,the FirstCircuitproposed thatthe partiessettle,

and directed counselfor both sides to discuss itwith their clients.As a result,the parties
agreed thatthe 1N S would grantM otta a tem porary stay of deportation com parable to that
granted him by the districtcourt,on the condition thatthe districtcourt'sopinion,which the
1NS viewed asiia dangerousand erroneousprecedent''were vacated.f#.

The FirstCircuitconcluded thatthe controversy betw een the partieshad ended,that

the appealwas moot,and thatthe districtcourt's opinicm should be vacated.1d.The court
took itpains to consider whether this appealfblls within the Suprem e Court's prohibition
against vacatur in''Bancorp.1d. The courtconcluded that kiit does not'' for tw o principal
reasons.First,the appellate court,rather than the parties,initiated settlem ent discussions.

Thus,k'galstheINS hasnotinitiatedtherelinquishmentofitsrighttotheremedy (ofappeall,

the same equitable calculus underlying Bancorp is not present.'' Id. The First Circuit's

initiativealso negatedBancolp'sconcernsk'aboutgiving partiesunduecontroloverjudicial

precedents.''ld.In thatrespectthe courtsaw ikno appreciable harm to the orderly functioning

ofthefederaljudicialsystem byvacatingjudgment.''1d.Second, the First Circuit was

persuaded thatthe lkharm''worked 'tby depriving the public and the judicialsystem ofthe
precedentialvalue ofthe districtcourt's opinion''should notSitake priority over the parties'
bestinterests.''1d.Itmattered to the courtthati'the IN S,asa repeatplayerbefbre the courts,
isprimarily concerned with the precedentialeffectof the decision below.If that decision
stands,a1lpossibility ofa settlem entis elim inated.Ifitis vacated,the appellee acquires the

absolute certainty ofnotbeing deported,while the governm ent saves the costs and risk of

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litigation a w in for both sides.''f#.The First Circuitconcluded that bfthe equities plainly
favorvacatur''based on mootnessby reason ofsettlem ent.f#.at118.

The second opinion thatthepartiesrely on isM qjorLeagueBaseballProps.,Inc.v.

Pacfc Trading Cards,Inc.,150 F.3d 149(2dCir.1998).Thatcase wasatrademark dispute

by MajorIseague Baseball(k'M LB'')againstPacifscTrading Cards,lnc.(':Pacif5c''),on the
y that Pacitsc w as w rongfully m anufacturing and distributing k'trading cards that

depicted mqior-league baseball players in M tzB-tradem arked unifonns.''f#, at 150. The

United StatesD istrictCourtforthe Southern D istrictofN ew York denied M LB'Sm otion for

a preliminary injunction.f#.M LB then moved in the Second Circuit for an injunction

pending an appeal of the district court's order.1d.At oral argum ent,the Second Circuit
expressed its idintention to grantM LB'S m otion unless Pacit'ic posted a bond sufficientto
secure M laB's claim s.'' l50-5l.'rhe coul't also i'suggested to the parties that they

attemptto negotiate a settlem ent.'Fo aid discussionr''the court Siassigned staff counselto

mediatethematter.''1d.at151.Afterdiscussions,thepartiesjointlyreported that%itheycould
settlethe dispute butonly ifthe districtcourt'sorderand opinion werevacated.''Id.
The Second Circuit vacated the district court's order and opinion and

dism issed M LB'Sm otionsasm ootin lightoftheparties'settlem ent.The courtfollowed the

FirstCircuit's M otta decision,concluding thatthe principles expressed therein counseled in

fvorofvacatur.First,justlikein Mbtta,'IM LB Sdid notby itsown initiativerelinquish its

rightto vacatur-'''ld.at152 (quoting sfotta v.DistrictDirectorof I.N.S.,61F.3d 117,118

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Rather, Pacific strongly desired a settlem ent to avoid the fsnancial

consequences of either posting the bond or not shipping the cards,the only
optionsbefore it.Pacitsc could nottestthe merits ofthe favorable lower-court

opinion withoutrisking the severe financialconsequencesofour gthe Second

Circuit'slintendedruling onM LB'Smotion.
M IwB w asagreeableto asettlem entbutneeded avacaturbecause,in the course
ofdetknding itsmarks,it,like the INS in M otta,had to be concelmed aboutthe
effectofthe districtcourt'sdecision in future litigation with alleged intkingers.
Id.The courtconcluded that,unlike in Bancorp,lithe victor in the district courtwanted a
settlem entasmuch as,orm ore than,the loserdid....The only dam ageto thepublic interest
from such a vacatur would be that the validity of M LB'S m arks would be left to future
litigation.''1d.Therefore,ithese facts m etthe texceptionalcircum stances'testofBancorp.b'

The partieshave notcited any instances o-the Eleventh Circuitfsnding 'lexceptional

circum stances'' under Bancorp.This Court has found only one such instance, in a oneparagraph,percuriam,unpublished opinion.SeeBlue Cross d:Blue Shield Ass'n v.Cox,403

F.Appfx417 (11th Cir.2010).Theopinion'sonelbotnoteonly hintsatwhattheexceptional

circum stanceswere;idunexpected developmentsm ake itunlikely'thatfullcounseling w ould
be available to the courtiflitigation continues in this case.The possible preclusive effectif

3The Second Circuitfound 'exceptionalcircum stances''in one otheropinion thatthe parties

cite,butthe factsofthatcaseareinapposite.SeeM icrosojtCorp.v.BristolTech.,Inc.,250

F.3d l52,155-56 (2d Cir.2001)(vacating the districtcourt's opinion based in parton a
suspicion thatthe districtcourtawarded punitive dam ages in contravention ofthe Seventh

Amendment).See also In re Gczlcp-l/M otors Corp.,No.94-2435,1995 W L 940063,at*1

(4th Cir.Feb.l7,1995)(snding Sbexceptionalcircum stances''where,among otherthings,a
district court's order could, if left standing, result in the disclosure of privileged


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the case rem ains isundesirable underthese circum stances.''Id.at417 n.1.The Cox opinion
offersno guidancehere.
The Courtalso notesthatthe Eleventh Circuit,sitting en banc,recently dism issed an

appealas m oot due to settlem ent,which the parties achieved after briefing,oralargum ent,
and areferralto m ediation by the en bancpanel.Berry v.Orange Cr//y'.,N o.13-14092,2015

W 1x2165892 (11th Cir.M ay 8,20l5).'Fhecourtalso remanded thecaseto thedistrictcourt

with instructions to vacate the judgmentand dismiss the lawsuit.Id.The district court's
opinion had been aftirm ed by the three-m em berpaneldecision thatwasvacated pending en-

banc review .See Scrr.pv.Leslie,767 F.3d 1144 (11th Cir.2014),opinion vacated on reh'
en bancsub nom.Berry v.Orange fk/.1'
.,771F.3d 1316(11th Cir.2014).Theen bancorder
ofdism issaland rem and doesnotm ention Bancorp.
C. The InstantCase

l'he parties contend thatiexceptionalcircum stances''existin this case,analogous to

those found in the Firstand Second Circuits'M otta and MajorLeagueBaseballdecisions,

Pursuant to

which this Courtoughtto vacate certain judgments and orders to eflkctthe

exceptional circumstances'':(1) the parties

parties' settlelnent. These are the proffered ti
entered into settlem entnegotiations only upon the urging ofthe Eleventh Circuit,ilbut itis
im possible for the Appellantto enter into any settlem ent that is notconditioned upon the
decision on review being vacated based on potential harm the decision may cause the

Appellantin futurelitigationi''and(2)tthedistrictcourt'sdecision ison appealand isbased


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on an interpretation of state law ,thus having lim ited precedential value to the public.''
D E 242, at8.4

The Courtagreesthatthese circum stances are analogous to those found in the M otta

and M ajor League Baseball decisions. The Court disagrees that they are sufficiently
Vtexceptional''to escapeBancolp'sstrong disfavorofvacaturbased on mootnessby reason of
settlem ent.
First,this Coul'
t diffkrs w ith the First and Second Circuits as to the parties' tsrst

Proposed Stexceptional circum stance.'' ln Bancolp,the i'principal condition''to which the

Supreme Coul't looked was Siwhether the party seeking relief from the judgmentbelow

caused the m ootness by voluntary action.''U S.Bancorp M ortg.Co.v.BonnerM allP '


513 U.S.18,24 (1994).The Supreme Courtreasoned that,asthe losing party below bears
the burden ofproving lequitable entitlementto the extraordinary rem edy of vacatur,''that
party's ivvoluntary forfeiture ofreview constitutesa failure of equity thatm akes the burden
decisive''againstvacatur.1d at26.In thisCourt'sview,the factthatthe partiesentered into
settlem ent negotiations only upcm the urging of the appellate court,and the fct that the

appellantherewantsvacaturasmuch astheappellee(in orderto eflkctuatesettlement)inno

way alters the voluntariness of appellant's t-orfeiture of appellate review .The parties may
have discussed settlem ent only upon the insistence ofthe Eleventh Circuit,butthe parties'
inclusion of vacatur as a condition of their settlem entwas entirely their own prerogative.

4 The factsofthe underlying action- consolidated suits fordeclaratol'

y relief and breach of

contract- are set forth in thisCourt's two OrdersofFinalSummary Judgment(DE 194;

DE 195).Thespecificsarenotmaterialtotheparties'argumentsforvacatur.

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Having made thatchoice,appellantsuflkrs fi-om that iblack of equity ofa litigantwho has
voluntarily abandoned review .''1(1.at28.

Second,the Courtis notpersuaded by the parties'insistence thatthe com paratively

limited precedential value ofthis Court'sjudgments--based on state 1aw as they areconstitutesan -'exceptionaleircunastance,''sAlthough the Bancorp Courtconsidered am otion

tovacatethejudgmentofa coul'tofappeals,theCoul'tdiscussedtherelevanceofitsholding

t'to motions atthe court-of-appeals Ievelforvacatur ofdistrict-courtjudgments.''f#.The

Courtrejected someopinions'suggestionsthatmotionsgforvacaturlatthatlevelshouldbe

more fkeely granted,since district-courtjudgmentsaresubjecttoreview asofright,''and are

therefore idm ore likely to be ovel-turned and presumptively lessvalid.''1d.To this the Court

iagain assertredj the inappropriateness of disposing of cases, whose merits are beyond

judicialpowertoconsider,on thebasisofjudicialestimatesregardingtheirmerits.''ld.
lfitis inappropriateto disposeofcases,whose meritsare beyondjudicialpowerto
consider,on thebasisofjudicialestimatesregarding theirmerits,then how much more so is

itinappropriateto dispose ofcases,whosemeritsare beyond judicialpowerto consider,on

thebasisofjudicialestimatesregarding theirvalue.Thisconclusion isparticularlywarranted

in the face ofBancorp's strong statementon the value ofjudicialprecedents'

precedents are presum ptively correct and valuable to the legal com m unity as a whole.

'l-hey are not m erely the property of private litigants and should stand unless a court

concludesthatthepublicinterestwouldbeservedby avacatur.'''1d.at26-27(quoting Izumi

5In this respectthe parties'argum entis somewhatcontradictory:they sim ultaneously argue

thattheordersandjudgmentsthey wantvacated (1)areofnegligibleprecedentialvalue and


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0 )0 KabushlkiKaisha v.U S.Phill
psCorp.'510U.S.27,40 (1993)(Stevens,J.,

ltis upon consideration ofthisstatem ent,and ofthe sound policy behind it,thatthis

Coul't perceives a basic tlaw in the M otta and Major Zctzp/c Baseball opinions.Those
decisionsin partturn on the courts'determ inationsthatlittleorno harm would be worked by

avacatur.SeeMotta v.DistrictDirectorOfI.NS.,61F.3d 117,118 (1stCir.1995)(i$W esee

no appreciable harm to the orderly functioning ofthe federaljtldicialsystem by vacating
judglnent.'');Major League st7-vt?!?l# Props.,Inc.v.rltn#7c Trading Cards,Inc.,l50 F.3d
149,152 (2d Cir.1998)(kk-f'
heonly damageto thepublic interestfrom such avacaturwould
be thatthe validity of M LB'S marks would be leftt)
o future litigation.'').The parties'

argumentto thisCourtissimilarly focused.SeeDE 242,at14 (klthepublic's interestin the

developm entof1aw w ould notbe harm ed by granting vacaturofthe Ordersbecausethe legal

issuespresentedtherein can beaddressedwith moret'inality by Florida'sstatecou1'ts.'').

However,thisisthe wrong focus.TheBancorp Courtdid notstatethatvacaturshould
be granted where doing so would work only a little harm ,or none atall.Rather,the Court
stated thatvacaturshould be granted only where the public interestwould affinnatively Sisbe

servedby avacatur.'''SeeBancorp,513 U.S.at26-27 (quotation omitted);c/ id.at27(sdwe

think...that the public interest requires those demands (of orderly procedure) to be
honored when they can'') (emphasis added). The parties' required showing under Rule
6()(b)(6),pursuantto which they bring theirinstantmotion,isalso an affirmative one;the

courtmayrelieveaparty from afinaljudgmentororderforany reason ilthatjustifiesrelief''

ltisnotenough forthepartiesto show m erely thatavacaturw illnotcauseharm .

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On thatfinalnote,this Courtrejects the parties'low estimation ofthe harm that

would result from the requested vacatur.Bancorp makes clear that a species of harm

necessarily resultsfrom depriving thepublicandthelegalcommunity ofjudicialprecedents,

which are Siipresum ptively conrect and valuable.''' See Bancorp,

at 26-27

(quotation omitted).6Underthe ordinary circumstancesofthis case,the parties'desire to

settledoesnotjustify theextraordinaryreliefofvacatur.


Therefore,it is O RDERED,ADJUDG ED,and DECREED that the parties'Joint

M otion to VacateCertain OrdersandFinalJudgments(DE 242)be,andthesameis,hereby


DONE and O RDER ED in Cham bers atthe Jam es Lawrence King FederalJustice
Building and United StatesCourthouse,M iam i,Florida,this27th day ofM ay,2015.



A 1lCounselofRecord

6The CourtnotesthatitsFinalSum m ary Judgm entOrderin favorofD efendantW estchester


Coxserfttycrlnlox CoxTltAc-sSURETVCLAIMSj 18.02n.34 (Aspen Publishers2015).