The opinion of the court was delivered by: BECHTLE
Presently before the court are the following motions: (1) "Plaintiff's Motion for Relief from Order Dismissing Plaintiff's Complaint With Prejudice;" (2) "Plaintiff's Motion for Extension of Time to Comply with Pretrial Memorandum Order;" and, (3) "Defendant Leonard E. B. Andrews' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint, or in the Alternative for Summary Judgment." For the reasons stated herein, plaintiff's two motions will be denied and defendant Leonard E. B. Andrews' motion will be granted.
Plaintiff commenced this defamation action in the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, Pennsylvania, on August 24, 1987, and on September 23, 1987, Time Inc., Henry Anatole Grunwald, Donald M. Elliman, Jr., and Susan Reed (hereinafter collectively referred to as "the Time defendants") removed the action to this court based on diversity of citizenship and the requisite amount in controversy.
The Complaint is based upon the publication of an allegedly defamatory article in PEOPLE Weekly Magazine ("PEOPLE") which is published by defendant Time, Inc. The PEOPLE issue dated August 25, 1986, contained an article entitled "Leonard Andrews Unveils 240 of Andrew Wyeth's Best-Kept Secrets: The Helga Paintings," authored by defendant Susan Reed who is a writer and Associate Editor of PEOPLE. Defendant Donald M. Elliman, Jr. is the publisher of PEOPLE. Defendant Henry Anatole Grunwald is the Editor-in-Chief of PEOPLE.
On September 29, 1987, the Time defendants filed a motion to dismiss or in the alternative for summary judgment based on Pennsylvania's one year statute of limitations on defamation actions. Plaintiff never answered the motion to dismiss or the alternative motion for summary judgment. On January 8, 1988, over three months after the Time defendants filed their motion to dismiss, the court entered an Order dated January 7, 1988, which granted the Time defendants' unanswered motion to dismiss.
On January 21, 1988, plaintiff filed the instant Fed.R. Civ.P. 60(b) motion for relief from the court's January 8, 1988 Order which dismissed, with prejudice, plaintiff's Complaint against the Time defendants. The Time defendants timely filed their reply, pursuant to a stipulation extending its time to file, to plaintiff's Rule 60(b) motion on February 9, 1988. A hearing on, inter alia, the Rule 60(b) motion was held on May 6, 1988.
A. Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b) Inadvertence and Excusable Neglect
Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b) provides in pertinent part:
(b) Mistake; Inadvertence; Excusable Neglect; Newly Discovered Evidence; Fraud, etc.
On motion and upon such terms as are just, the court may relieve a party or a party's legal representative from a final judgment, order, or proceeding for the following reasons:
(1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect ;
or (6) any other reason justifying relief from the operation ...