Thursday, May 04, 2017

Pro se appellant Qiang Wang loses to appellees Nir Zuk and Fengmin Gong at CAFC

Appellant Qiang Wang appeals the district court’s denial
of his motion to vacate a settlement agreement
reached between Mr. Wang and appellees Palo Alto
Networks, Inc., Nir Zuk, and Fengmin Gong (collectively,
“PAN”). Mr. Wang, now proceeding pro se, contends that
his former counsel coerced him into signing the settlement
agreement against his will and that the agreement
is otherwise legally invalid. For the following reasons, we
affirm the district court’s decision.

Note some of the issues:

On May 7, 2014, Mr. Wang filed a pro se motion with
the district court, styled “Motion for Vacating the Settlement.”
His motion noted his disapproval of the settlement
agreement and alleged that Mr. Vickery had
relentlessly hounded Mr. Wang to sign the settlement
agreement; that Mr. Vickery had threatened Mr. Wang if
he refused to sign; that Mr. Wang was “insane” when he
signed the agreement; that the final settlement agreement,
which did not contain Mr. Wang’s physical edits,
did not reflect the version that he had actually signed;


Mr. Wang places much of the blame on his attorney,
alleging that Mr. Vickery harassed, misled, and threatened
him until Mr. Wang broke down and unwillingly
signed the settlement agreement, which resulted in the
stipulated dismissal. Without wading into the details
that involve Mr. Wang and Mr. Vickery’s attorney-client
relationship, we find that Mr. Wang’s allegations, taken
as true, still cannot revive his case.
To the extent that Mr. Wang is arguing that his signing
of the settlement agreement was “mistake, inadvertence,
surprise, or excusable neglect,” Fed. R. Civ. P.
60(b)(1), the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Latshaw v. Trainer
Wortham & Co. is on point, if not directly dispositive.
452 F.3d 1097 (9th Cir. 2006). There, the plaintiff tried to
rescind her acceptance of a Rule 68 offer of judgment—
effectively a settlement—on the grounds that her attorney
gave her bad and misleading advice. Id. at 1099–1100.
The Ninth Circuit held that “Rule 60(b)(1) is not intended
to remedy the effects of a litigation decision that a party
later comes to regret through subsequently-gained
knowledge that corrects the erroneous legal advice of
counsel.” Id. at 1101.


Although he claims he was
temporarily insane when signed the agreement, there is
no evidence to suggest that he did not understand the
provisions of the walk-away settlement or that it would
resolve the litigation. Therefore, even if Mr. Wang believes
that Mr. Vickery browbeat him into signing off,
Rule 60(b)(1) does not provide recourse, and the district
court did not abuse its discretion in denying relief. See id.
at 1102 (“Latshaw understood the unambiguous settlement
terms . . . when signing the offer of judgment. The
district court did not abuse its discretion in denying
Latshaw relief under Rule 60(b)(1).”).

**Separately, from Blawgsearch on 4 May 2017


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