Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. No. 85 C 755 -- Thomas J. Curran, Judge.
Flaum, Easterbrook, and Kanne, Circuit Judges.
The United States commenced a civil action against defendants alleging that Charles Kasuboski had failed to pay his federal income tax. The government sought to have certain conveyances of property set aside and to foreclose its federal tax liens against these properties to satisfy its tax assessments against Kasuboski. In the course of the litigation the government served Kasuboski with a request for admissions pursuant to Rule 36 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Kasuboski failed to respond to the request for admissions pursuant to Rule 36 of the Federal Rules of civil Procedure. Kasuboski failed to respond to the request for admissions and five months later the government moved for summary judgment. Kasuboski did not move to withdraw the admissions or timely resist the motion for summary judgment. The district court granted the government's motion for summary judgment. We affirm.
On May 17, 1985, the United States filed a civil action against Charles L. Kasuboski and his wife, Mary Ann Kasuboski, individually and as trustees of the Basic Bible Church. The Basic Bible Church, Shephard Life Science Church, Order of Almighty God, Chapter No. 1014, and Matt Graf, another trustee of Basic Bible Church, were also named as defendants (collectively "the defendants"). The complaint alleged that certain properties were fraudulently transferred between Charles Kasuboski, Mary Ann Kasuboski, and the churches with which they were affiliated. The government claimed that these they were affiliated. The government claimed that these properties were transferred without consideration, were still effectively controlled by the Kasuboski, and were still subject to federal tax liens which arose from assessments against Charles Kasuboski for $70,548.61 (as of September 1, 1983) in unpaid federal income taxes, interest, and penalties. The government sought to establish Charles' liability for this amount and to satisfy the liability by enforcing the federal tax liens against the transferred properties.
The United States commenced discovery in 1986. On March 25, 1986 the government deposed Charles Kasuboski. On May 29, 1986, interrogatories were served upon Charles Kasuboski, Mary Ann Kasuboski, and Matt Graf ("the May 29 interrogatories") and a request for admissions was served upon Charles. Additional depositions were taken in early June.
The scheduling order issued by the district court established a November 15, 1986 deadline for filing dispositive motions. As of that date, none of the defendants had filed answers to the May 29 interrogatories and Charles Kasuboski had not responded to the request for admissions. The government filed a motion for summary judgment on November 17.*fn1 The government's motion and the supporting documents were telexed to Milwaukee; consequently the motion was not signed. In addition, all but the first page of the copy of the May 29 interrogatories appended to the motion were missing. On November 20, 1986, the United States mailed complete, signed copies of its motion for summary judgment to the district court and the defendants' attorney. The signed copies were received on November 24 and November 25 respectively.
In its motion for summary judgment the government asserted that Charles Kasuboski's failure to respond to the May 29, 1986 request for admissions constituted an admission of each matter for which an admission was sought, and under those admitted facts the government was entitled to judgment. The May 29, 1986 request asked Charles to admit: (1) that he was liable for the asserted federal income taxes and fraud penalties; (2) that he knew prior to taking his vow of poverty that such taxes were due and owing; (3) that the various transfers of real property left him insolvent; (4) that he had full use and benefit of the real property; and (5) that the transfers were sham conveyances without consideration.
On December 9, 1986 the district court granted the government's motion for summary judgment. United States v. Kasuboski, No. 85-C-755 (E.D. Wis. Dec. 9, 1986). The district court concluded that under Rule 36 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Charles Kasuboski's failure to respond constituted an admission of the requested information. It also found that "all statutory requirements ha[d] been met regarding the assessments and the liens and that the plaintiff ha[d] produced respond constituted an admission of the requested information. It also found that "al statutory requirements ha[d] been met regarding the assessments and the liens and that the plaintiff ha[d] produced evidence of all the elements necessary to prove its claim." Id., slip op. at 8.
On the same day the defendants filed a motion for an extension of time in which to respond to the motion for summary judgment. The district court denied this motion on December 15, 1986. The next day the defendants filed a motion for reconsideration of the grant of summary judgment. On December 18 the defendants' response to the motion for summary judgment was mailed to the court. This was accompanied by a motion for relief from the court's order to avoid error or mistake pursuant to Rule 60 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. These motions were also denied. Judgment was entered for the United States. The defendants appealed to this court raising a number of procedural issues.*fn2
Defendants first argue that the motion for summary judgment filed by the United States on November 17, 1986 was defective because it was unsigned and all but the first page of the appended interrogatories were missing. Although an undisputedly complete motion for summary judgment was filed on November 24, 1986, the validity of the November 17 motion is relevant both to determine whether the government complied with the district court's scheduling order and to calculate the date on which the defendants' response to the motion was due. We find that any defect in the motion was not fatal.
Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that an unsigned motion shall be stricken "unless it is signed promptly after the omission is called to the attention of the movant." The United States recognized the defect and corrected it by mailing signed, complete copies to both the ...