Legal Memorandum: Cases regarding Fraud against the Court

Issue: What are the major federal cases regarding fraud against the court?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Fraud against the court; Major federal cases
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: 169 F.2d 514; 538 F.2d 180; 763 F.2d 1115
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 01/01/2000

The case of Pfizer, Inc. v. Int’l Rectifier Corp., 538 F.2d 180 (8th Cir. 1976), is often cited for its definition of fraud against the court.  The Pfizer definition does not address fraud against the court performed by a judicial officer and decision-maker; the Pfizer case deals only with fraud committed by parties before the court.  Ultimately, the Pfizer court held that no fraud was committed. 

The case of Root Refining Co. v. Universal Oil Products Co., 169 F.2d 514 (3d Cir. 1948) deals with fraud and the statute of limitations in such cases.  With regard to fraud against the court, a judge in the underlying case was involved with one of the attorneys appearing before the court in the alleged fraudulent activity.  While the statute of limitations discussion in Root Refining resulted in a decision that no statute of limitations could apply to an instance involving fraud against the court, cited dicta suggests that such a result should not damage adversely affected parties:

[T]he usual safeguards of adversary proceedings must be observed.  No doubt, if the court finds after a proper hearing that fraud has been practiced upon it, […]

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