United States District Court, D. Utah
THOMAS V. WIGINGTON III, Petitioner,
JEAN SALT, et al., Respondents, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Intervenor - Respondent.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING  UNITED
STATES' MOTION TO VACATE DEFAULT JUDGMENT
Nuffer United States District Judge.
Judge David Nuffer Intervenor, the United States of America
(the “United States”), filed the Motion to Vacate
Default Judgment (the “Motion”) on February 1,
2018. The United States seeks, under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(c) and 60(b)(4), to set aside the Default
Judgment that was entered in favor of Petitioner
Thomas V. Wigington III (“Petitioner”) by the
Seventh Judicial District Court of Utah (“State
Court”) prior to the removal of this case to federal
of the Motion was mailed to Petitioner. Petitioner did
file any response to the Motion with the Court within the
allotted time under DUCivR 7-1(b)(3), even accounting for an
additional three days provided for mailing under Fed.R.Civ.P.
6(d). Instead, Petitioner mailed a responsive letter (the
“Letter”) to the United States. Petitioner later
mailed the same Letter to the Court well after the expiration of
the time allotted for response under DUCivR 7-1(b)(3). As
outlined below, because no response was timely filed with the
Court and because the United States' legal argument is
sound, the Motion is granted.
September 20, 2017, the State Court entered Default Judgment
in Case No. 170700009. In doing so, the State Court granted
Petitioner title to five parcels of land on the basis of
adverse possession. A year after entry of the Default
Judgment, the State Court granted the United States'
postjudgment motion to intervene in the case. The United States
then removed this matter to federal court.
basis for the United States' postjudgment intervention,
removal to federal court, and the present Motion is the same:
the United States contends that these parcels of lands are
actually land allotments held in trust by the United States
for the benefit of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe
(“Tribe”) and certain individual tribal
members The United States argues that the State
Court lacked jurisdiction to grant Petitioner's quiet
title claims on federal land and that the Default Judgment
is void because suits against the United States based upon
adverse possession are prohibited.
7-1 establishes that when a party fails to timely respond to
motion-other than one for summary judgment-the motion may be
granted without further notice. Although Petitioner
mailed the Letter to the United States within the allotted
time to respond to the Motion, Petitioner did not mail the
Letter to the Court at that time.
5-1 provides that “all pleadings and other case-related
documents must be filed with the clerk at the office of
record in Salt Lake City . . . in person . . . or by
mail.” When Petitioner did finally file the
Letter with the Court by mail, the response time under DUCivR
7-1(b)(3) had expired. “[P]ro se
status does not excuse the obligation of any litigant to
comply with the fundamental requirements of the Federal Rules
of Civil . . . Procedure.” Because Petitioner failed
to comply with the timing and filing requirements of the
Local Civil Rules of Procedure, Petitioner has failed to
timely respond to the motion.
Petitioner has failed to respond to the Motion, and because
the United States has offered well-grounded legal argument
and persuasive authority regarding the State Court's lack
of jurisdiction to enter default judgment and the voidness of
that default judgment, the Motion is granted.
HEREBY ORDERED that the United States'
Motion is GRANTED. The Default
Judgment is VOID and is VACATED.
 United States' Motion to Vacate
Default Judgment, docket no. 10, filed February 1,
 Notice of Removal, Exhibit D, Default
Judgement in State Court, docket no. 2-7, filed