for judgment as a matter of law under Fed.R.Civ.Proc. 50(b) or a motion for a new trial under Fed.R.Civ.Proc. 59 been filed.
Since that time, a dispute has arisen as to which party is responsible for the payment of two of Mr. McGonigle's debts: (a) a debt of $ 28,667.98, plus interest, to the Bank of Boston ("Bank of Boston debt"); (b) McGonigle's debt to Frank Kunkel and/or Wholesale Snax, Inc. ("Kunkel debt"). Both debts were incurred when McGonigle financed his purchase of the Bachman wholesalership.
Apparently, both the Bachman Company and Mr. Kunkel have taken the position that the Kunkel debt is a personal obligation of Mr. McGonigle and that the Bachman Company will not pay it. (Affidavit of Defendant's Counsel Arlene Beth Marcus, 2/17/94, PP 11-13). What's more, the Kunkel debt is now the subject of a pending Massachusetts State Court action, titled Wholesale Snax, Inc. and Frank Kunkel v. Kevin McGonigle,
in which plaintiffs are seeking payment of the Kunkel debt directly from McGonigle. It also appears that the Bachman Company refuses to pay the Bank of Boston debt. (Affidavit of Defendant's Counsel Arlene Beth Marcus, 2/17/94, P 24).
On February 15, 1994, counsel for McGonigle received a check from Bachman in the amount of $ 282,870. (Affidavit of Defendant's Counsel Arlene Beth Marcus, 2/17/94, P 21). However, as a result of the developments outlined above, and by agreement of Mr. McGonigle and Mr. Kunkel, the check has been placed in an escrow account pending the resolution of the dispute over responsibility for the Kunkel debt. In addition, Mr. Kunkel has recorded a lien against Mr. McGonigle under the Uniform Commercial Code. (Affidavit of Defendant's Counsel Arlene Beth Marcus, 2/17/94, P 23).
These events have led to McGonigle's filing of the present motion. For the reasons that follow, we deny McGonigle's motion in its stated form, but will provide other relief under Fed.R.Civ.Proc. 60(b).
Defendant McGonigle brings his motion pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.Proc. 69 and 70. In particular, McGonigle asserts that Bachman's refusal to pay the Bank of Boston and Kunkel debts constitutes contempt in light of our January 14, 1994 order of judgment. Bachman argues that it cannot be held in contempt because it complied exactly with the order's directive - namely, to pay McGonigle $ 282,870. Bachman cites Stotler and Co. v. Able, 870 F.2d 1158 (7th Cir. 1989) in which the Seventh Circuit held that in order to hold a party in contempt, a complaining party "must be able to point to a decree of the court which sets forth in specific detail an unequivocal command" and prove that the command was violated by "clear and convincing evidence." Id., at 1163.
We are inclined to agree with Bachman that McGonigle's motion is inappropriate. In tendering to McGonigle the check for $ 282,870, Bachman has complied with the explicit directives of our order. Nonetheless, despite McGonigle's unavailing portrayal of his motion as a motion for contempt, we believe McGonigle may have raised valid grounds for post-trial relief. We believe that his motion is best characterized as a motion for relief from judgment or order pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.Proc. 60(b)(6).
While not pled as a Rule 60(b) motion, we will deem McGonigle's motion for contempt as a Rule 60(b) motion. We are guided by the well-established federal rule, embodied in Fed.R.Civ.Proc. 8(f), that "all pleadings shall be so construed as to do substantial justice." Courts have long held that "the moving party's label for its motion is not controlling. Rather, the court will construe it, however styled, to be the type proper for the relief requested." United States v. 1982 Sanger 24' Spectra Boat, 738 F.2d 1043, 1046 (9th Cir. 1984). In particular, the federal courts have recognized that post-trial motions can be recharacterized to enable the substance of the motion to be addressed. See Smith v. United States Parole Com'n, 721 F.2d 346, 348 (11th Cir. 1983) ("if scrutiny of a post-trial motion suggests that it should be treated in a manner different than the label used by the party, the court may discard an inappropriate label to render a decision based upon the motion's substance."); Glick v. White Motor Co., 458 F.2d 1287 (3d Cir. 1972) (untimely Rule 59 motion entertained by court under Rule 60). Since McGonigle's post-trial contempt motion is really seeking post-trial relief from our January 14, 1994 order, we will recharacterize the motion as a Rule 60(b)(6) motion.
The decision to grant relief under Rule 60(b)(6) is within the sound discretion of the court. Lasky v. Continental Products Corp., 804 F.2d 250, 256 (3d Cir. 1986). The Third Circuit has long held that "rule 60(b)(6) relief is available only in cases evidencing extraordinary circumstances." Stradley v. Cortez, supra, 518 F.2d at 493; Mayberry v. Maroney, 558 F.2d 1159, 1163 (3d Cir. 1977) (relief justified only upon a showing of exceptional circumstances and where absent such relief an extreme and unexpected hardship would result).
In considering Rule 60 motions, our job is "to strike a proper balance between the conflicting principles that litigation must be brought to an end and that justice must be done." Boughner v. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, 572 F.2d 976, 977 (3d Cir. 1978). The rationale underlying the rule is to ensure that judgments are based on the true merits of the case. Yamaha International Corp. v. United Furniture Workers, 892 F.2d 80, 1989 U.S. App. LEXIS 19431, at *4 (6th Cir. December 21, 1989). We believe that Rule 60(b)(6) is the appropriate procedural mechanism to enable McGonigle to raise the question of the outstanding debts. In Laskey v. Continental Products Corp., supra, the Third Circuit held that the district court was compelled to grant some relief under Rule 60(b)(6) on a motion for an order allocating post-settlement proceeds in a products liability case. The court laid out a six factor test for use in considering whether to grant a Rule 60(b)(6) motion:
In exercising its discretion the district court is guided by a number of relevant factors, inter alia, " the general desirability that a final judgment should not be lightly disturbed;  the procedure provided by Rule 60(b) is not a substitute for an appeal;  the Rule should be liberally construed for the purpose of doing substantial justice;  whether, although the motion is made within the maximum time, if any, provided by the Rule, the motion is made within a reasonable time . . .  whether there are any intervening equities which make it inequitable to grant relief;  any other factor that is relevant to the justice of the [order] under attack . . ."