Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Vient v. Connersville News Exchange

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

April 5, 2019



          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge.

         Plaintiff Benjamin Vient, proceeding pro se, brought this lawsuit in December 2017, alleging (insofar as the Court could determine) that Defendant Connersville News Examiner (“CNE”) infringed upon his copyright to an article entitled “On the Rails.” [Filing No. 19 at 4 (citing Filing No. 6 at 2-3); see Filing No. 1.] On April 5, 2018, CNE filed its Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim, [Filing No. 17], and accompanying Memorandum, [Filing No. 18]. Both filings indicated that they were served on Mr. Vient “by first-class U.S. Mail, postage prepaid and properly addressed.” [Filing No. 17 at 2; Filing No. 18 at 4.] On May 23, 2018, long after the time for Mr. Vient to respond to CNE's Motion had passed without any filings, the Court granted CNE's Motion, dismissed this lawsuit with prejudice, and entered final judgment in CNE's favor. [Filing No. 19; Filing No. 20.]

         In its Order granting CNE's Motion to Dismiss, the Court observed that “Mr. Vient does not allege that he owns a copyright, nor that the News-Examiner copied elements of that copyrighted work. The only allegations in his Complaint are that there were ‘copyright breaches,' and that he requested information from the News-Examiner but it did not respond.” [Filing No. 19 at 6.] Along the way, the Court provided Mr. Vient with “numerous opportunities to amend his Complaint” and, in light of his failure to take advantage of those opportunities or to respond to the Motion to Dismiss, dismissed the Complaint with prejudice for failure to state a claim. [Filing No. 19 at 7.]

         Now pending before the Court are a litany of post-judgment filings by Mr. Vient, received in February and March 2019. Several potentially pertain to the merits of the judgment entered in CNE's favor, including Mr. Vient's “Motion for Relief from a Judgment.” [Filing No. 21.] The Court considers these filings before addressing Mr. Vient's additional filings requesting electronic service and further proceedings. Each of Mr. Vient's Motions is without merit, and each is therefore DENIED for the reasons described below.


         Motions Requesting Relief from Judgment

         Several of Mr. Vient's post-judgment filings potentially impact the dismissal of his Complaint. The first is Mr. Vient's Motion for Relief from a Judgment, filed on February 7, 2019. [Filing No. 21.] Mr. Vient asks the Court to reopen the case due to “newly discovered evidence.” [Filing No. 21 at 1.] In support, Mr. Vient attaches what appears to be a printout of a screenshot of a story entitled “On the Rails, ” [Filing No. 21-2 at 1-2], and provides a copyright registration number, [Filing No. 21 at 2].

         In response, CNE argues that the copyright registration number indicates that the copyright was obtained after the lawsuit was filed but while the litigation was pending, making Mr. Vient's Motion improper. [Filing No. 22 at 6; Filing No. 22-1.]

         Mr. Vient argues in reply that he “reasonably contacted the Defendant's lawyer in October and November 2018 with the newly discovered evidence” and suggests that he meets the standard for relief in this case. [Filing No. 30 at 1.] Mr. Vient also states: “To clarify Defendant's statements: the Newly Discovered Evidence is Exhibits A and B, not a Copyright Registration Number.” [Filing No. 30 at 1.] In his Motion to Add Readout to the Evidence in the Motion for Relief from a Judgment, which the Court construes as an additional reply brief, Mr. Vient states that the printouts show that his story has been “reproduced, ” “distributed, ” and “displayed” by CNE, in violation of the copyright laws. [Filing No. 26 at 1.]

         The final document which may be construed as challenging the judgment entered in this case is his Motion for Point-of-Order, filed on March 15, 2019. [Filing No. 32.] In that document, Mr. Vient states that he “never received” CNE's response to his Motion for Relief from CNE, but instead received a copy from the Court's staff. [Filing No. 32 at 1.] He also states that he “do[es] not see” CNE's Motion to Dismiss in the documents he has received. [Filing No. 32 at 1.] He also asks the Court to explain when service is required. [Filing No. 32 at 1.]

         Rule 60(b) provides that “[o]n motion and just terms, the court may relieve a party or its legal representative from a final judgment, order, or proceeding.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b). “Relief under Rule 60(b) is an extraordinary remedy granted only in exceptional circumstances, ” Nelson v. Napolitano, 657 F.3d 586, 589 (7th Cir. 2011), and serves the “limited function” of “correct[ing] manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence, ” Hicks v. Midwest Transit, Inc., 531 F.3d 467, 474 (7th Cir. 2008) (internal quotations omitted). The ground primarily invoked by Mr. Vient is found in Rule 60(b)(2), allowing for relief for “newly discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence, could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b), ” though his Motion for Point-of-Order also suggests that he may be seeking relief due to CNE's alleged failure to serve its Motion to Dismiss. In the appropriate case, a lack of service could potentially provide a ground for Rule 60(b) relief under paragraphs (1) (“excusable neglect”), (3) (“misrepresentation . . . by an opposing party”), or (6) (“any other reason that justifies relief”).

         Nothing in Mr. Vient's submissions suggests that there are exceptional circumstances warranting Rule 60(b) relief in this case. The Court cannot make heads or tails of what Mr. Vient means when he says that “Exhibits A and B” are the “Newly Discovered Exhibits.” The only exhibit he attached to his Motion for Relief is a printout of a screenshot showing what appears to be his story entitled “On the Rails, ” and that story is not new evidence. It appears that Mr. Vient has highlighted his name and any reference to the News-Examiner, including the News-Examiner's copyright notice at the bottom of the page. [Filing No. 21-2 at 1-2.] Nothing suggests however that this notice is evidence that Mr. Vient could not have previously discovered. Nor is CNE's possible copyright assertion relevant to the deficiencies identified in Mr. Vient's claim- namely, that he failed to allege that he owned a copyright to the story. Even if the filings reflected new, relevant evidence, Mr. Vient's Motion would be woefully untimely. Mr. Vient indicates that he raised this “newly-discovered” evidence with CNE's counsel back in “October and November 2018, ” yet he failed to file anything in this Court until February 7, 2019. This unreasonable and unexplained delay provides an additional and independent basis for denying Mr. Vient's Motion.

         Nor does the addition of the copyright registration number (which Mr. Vient disclaims as the basis for his Rule 60(b) Motion) entitle Mr. Vient to relief, inasmuch as the copyright was registered on January 25, 2018, according to the publicly-available copyright catalog maintained by the U.S. Copyright Office (and cited to by CNE). This was a month after this lawsuit was instituted on December 20, 2017-confirming, again, that Mr. Vient did not plausibly allege that CNE had infringed Mr. Vient's copyright because he had not registered the copyright at the time he filed the lawsuit. Moreover, were the addition of the copyright registration number the basis for Mr. Vient's Motion, it too would be untimely. This matter had not yet been dismissed as of January 25, 2018, and CNE had not yet filed its Motion to Dismiss. Mr. Vient had ample opportunity to raise the copyright registration issue while this matter was still open and pending.

         Finally, any alleged issue with CNE's service of the Motion to Dismiss likewise does not entitle Mr. Vient to any relief. Though CNE's filings all indicate that they were served on Mr. Vient by U.S. Mail as required by Rule 5, even assuming for the sake of argument that Mr. Vient did not receive CNE's Motion to Dismiss, Mr. Vient does not argue that he did not receive the Court's Order granting the Motion or the Final Judgment entered in CNE's favor. Mr. Vient therefore received full notice both that his case was being dismissed and the reasons for the dismissal. The Court's Order and Judgment were both entered on May 23, 2018. Mr. Vient's unreasonably delayed filing his Motion for Point-of-Order raising the alleged service issue for over nine months after the Court's ruling, and ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.