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Tuskegee North Advocacy Group v. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

April 19, 2010

TUSKEGEE NORTH ADVOCACY GROUP
v.
CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION, ET AL.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bartle, C.J.

MEMORANDUM

Before the court is the motion of plaintiff Tuskegee North Advocacy Group, acting pro se, to vacate all prior dismissal orders in this case.

Plaintiff characterizes itself in the complaint as four individuals: Emanuel A. Stanley, Brian C. Robinson, Diane Fleming-Myers, and Ronald Bailey-Ford. On October 30, 2009, the plaintiff filed a complaint in this court naming as defendants the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the City of Philadelphia Department of Public Health, the Public Health Management Corporation, and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania. The complaint was 56 pages long and contained a variety of allegations including violations of Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; the RICO Act; 18 U.S.C. § 242; 18 U.S.C. § 245; the No-FEAR Act of 2002, 116 Stat. 566; the National Labor Relations Act; and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.

On December 21, 2009, the Public Health Management Corporation filed a motion to dismiss and to strike. Plaintiff did not respond to this motion, and on January 28, 2010, we granted the motion as unopposed.

On February 19, 2010, Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania filed a motion to dismiss and to strike. Plaintiff did not respond to this motion. On March 15, 2010, we granted Planned Parenthood's motion as unopposed.

On March 8, 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention filed a motion to dismiss. Plaintiff again failed to respond, and on March 31, 2010, we granted the motion as unopposed.

In support of its motion to vacate these dismissals, plaintiff relies on Rules 60(a), 60(b)(1), 60(b)(3), and 60(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure .

Rule 60(a) provides that:

The court may correct a clerical mistake or a mistake arising from oversight or omission whenever one is found in a judgment, order, or other part of the record. The court may do so on motion or on its own, with or without notice. But after an appeal has been docketed in the appellate court and while it is pending, such a mistake may be corrected only with the appellate court's leave.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(a).

Plaintiff argues that this provision is applicable because they did not receive proper service of the court's January 28, 2010 Order dismissing defendant Public Health Management Corporation or any other order prior to March 12, 2010. It also alleges that the Clerk of the Court is failing to extend to it prompt and courteous treatment because it is a pro se plaintiff and that the Clerk has committed a clerical failure by not providing it with a copy of the January 28, 2010 Order which shows the signature of the undersigned.

The plaintiff's criticism of the Office of the Clerk of the Court is misplaced. The Clerk's Office affords pro se plaintiffs great respect and handles their cases with care. While attorneys are notified of docket filings only through the electronic court filing system, pro se plaintiffs receive copies of all filings, including court orders, via first class mail. We regret if plaintiff did not receive its copy of the January 28, 2010 Order. However, there is no evidence that the Clerk's Office deliberately withheld the Order from plaintiff.

The law puts the burden on all parties to check regularly with the Clerk's Office to learn of orders that may have been entered. Parties may not simply rely on the mail or the electronic notification system. Failure by the Clerk's Office to notify parties of the filing of orders is not an acceptable excuse for a party's failure to learn about them. See Poole v. Family Court, 368 F.3d 263, 268 (3d Cir. 2004); O.P.M. Leasing Services Inc., 769 F.2d 911 (2d Cir. 1985).

The court manually signs the original of all orders. The file room in the Clerk's Office retains these originals. Pro se plaintiffs receive photocopies of these originals when they are first notified of the docket entry. However, if a pro se plaintiff requests additional copies of a court order, that order will be printed from the electronic court filing system, on which the judge's signature is typed. The Chief Judge's signature is denoted by "C.J." beneath the signature line. All orders in ...


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