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Teri Woods Publishing, L.L.C., et al v. Williams

June 29, 2012

TERI WOODS PUBLISHING, L.L.C., ET AL.,
PLAINTIFFS,
v.
WILLIAMS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert F. Kelly, Sr. J.

MEMORANDUM

Presently before this Court is Plaintiffs, Teri Woods and Teri Woods Publishing, L.L.C.'s ("Plaintiffs"), Motion to Vacate the Dismissals of Defendants, Carl Weber and Urban Knowledge Bookstore, L.L.C. (collectively "Weber"). For the reasons set forth below, this Motion is denied.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is an author and the sole owner of the book publishing company, Teri Woods Publishing L.L.C. (Compl. at p. 2.) Plaintiffs have written and hold the copyright for three books. (Id.) Weber is a seller of books. (Id. at p. 3). Plaintiffs brought suit on October 11, 2011, alleging various claims against Weber stemming from the sale of copyrighted books authored by Plaintiff.*fn1 (Id. at pp. 5-15.)

Weber filed a Motion to Dismiss on March 19, 2012. Plaintiffs failed to respond within the requisite time period and we dismissed the claim against Weber on May 1, 2012. (See Doc. Nos. 34 & 35.) Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Vacate the dismissal against Weber on May 31, 2012.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW*fn2

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60 empowers courts, in certain circumstances, with the discretion to grant relief from a judgment or an order. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 60. "The general purpose of Rule 60. . . is to strike a proper balance between the conflicting principles that litigation must be brought to an end and that justice must be done." Curran v. Howmedica Osteonics, 425 Fed. Appx. 164, 166 (3d Cir. 2011) (quoting Boughner v. Sec'y of Health, Educ. & Welfare, 572 F.2d 976, 977 (3d Cir. 1978). Due to the strong interest in the finality of judgments, courts must only grant relief from a judgment in "exceptional circumstances." Id. at 166.

Rule 60(a) allows a court, sua sponte or by motion, to "correct a clerical mistake or mistake arising from oversight or omission whenever one is found in a judgment, order, or other part of the record." Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(a). The rule can only be invoked to correct errors that are "mechanical in nature, apparent on the record, and not involving an error of substantive judgment." Pfizer Inc. v. Uprichard, 422 F.3d 124, 130 (3d Cir. 2005) (citing Mack Trucks, Inc. v. Int'l Union, UAW, 856 F.2d 579, 594 (3d Cir. 1981)).

Rule 60(b)(1) allows a court to relieve a party of a final judgment for "mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect." Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(1). The court must look at the totality of the circumstances in determining whether a party, who has failed to timely respond, is entitled to relief from dismissal due to "excusable neglect." George Harms Construction Co., Inc. v. Chao, 371 F.3d 156, 163 (3d Cir. 2004). Specifically, courts must examine the following four factors: (1) the danger of prejudice to the other party; (2) the length of the delay and its potential impact on judicial proceedings; (3) the reason for the delay and whether it was within the movant's control; and (4) whether the movant acted in good faith. Nara v. Frank, 488 F.3d 187, 194 (3d Cir. 2007). At all times, the movant bears the burden of establishing "excusable neglect." Ethan Michael, Inc. v. Union Twp., 392 Fed.Appx. 906, 909 (3d Cir. 2010).

III. DISCUSSION

Plaintiffs' Motion to Vacate includes several additional claims that go toward the merits of the case. In light of our denials of Plaintiffs' Motion to Vacate, it is unnecessary to examine these claims.

Now, we proceed with our legal analysis regarding Plaintiffs' prayer for relief due to a "clerical error" and/or their own "excusable neglect." As previously noted, although Plaintiffs' Motions fail to list any law or judicial decision in support of this request for relief, we interpret their use of "clerical error and/or excusable neglect" as an attempt to utilize Rule 60(a) and Rule 60(b)(1). See Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(a) & (b)(1).

A. Rule 60(a) is Inapplicable to this Case

Plaintiffs seek to vacate our Order dismissing the claims against Weber due to clerical error, but have failed to set forth any specific instance of such an error occurring in this case. Even in spite of this deficiency, Rule 60(a) does not operate to offer the type of relief that Plaintiffs seek. The ambit of Rule 60(a) is only to correct "a clerical error, a copying or [a] computational mistake." Pfizer, Inc. v. Uprichard, 422 F.3d 124, 130 (3d Cir. 2005) (citing In re W. Tex. Mktg., 12 F.3d 497, 504-05 (5th Cir. 1994)). Here, Plaintiffs seek to use this rule to vacate our Order dismissing the claim. However, ...


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