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Julie Mcdaniel v. Continental Airlines

April 29, 2011

JULIE MCDANIEL.,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
CONTINENTAL AIRLINES, INC. DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Dennis M. Cavanaugh

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

DENNIS M. CAVANAUGH, U.S.D.J.

This matter comes before the Court upon motion by Julie McDaniel ("Plaintiff") to reopen her case against Continental Airlines, Inc. ("Defendant") pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)*fn1 .

Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 78, no oral argument was heard. Upon careful consideration of the parties' submissions, for the reasons herein expressed, it is the decision of this Court that Plaintiff's motion to re-open is denied.

I. BACKGROUND

On June 23, 2008 Plaintiff, acting pro se, filed suit against Defendant alleging discrimination, harassment, and retaliatory discharge from her job as a flight attendant. After filing her complaint, Plaintiff did nothing to prosecute her case until the filing of the instant motion more than two years later. On March 25, 2010, following a call to dismiss the case issued on March 4, 2010, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's complaint for failure to effectuate service pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(m). Almost one year later, on March 21, 2011, Plaintiff, through her retained counsel, moved to re-open the case, citing several tragic circumstances that had made it difficult for her to pursue this action until that point. Defendant opposes the motion because Plaintiff's behavior does not constitute or prove "excusable neglect," and because the underlying cause of action has become time-barred in the ensuing years since Plaintiff first thought to bring suit.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A. Rule 60(b)

Rule 60(b) provides, in pertinent part, that a court may, on the motion of a party, grant relief from a final order, judgment, or proceeding because of:

(b) Mistakes; 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 of the judgment. The motion shall be made within a reasonable time, and for reasons (1), (2), and (3) not more than one year after the judgment, order, or proceeding was entered or taken.

In determining whether a party who has missed a deadline is entitled to relief from dismissal because of "excusable neglect," a court must look at the totality of the circumstances. See George Harms Construction Co., Inc. v. Chao, 371 F.3d 156, 163 (3d Cir.2004). When evaluating whether a party's neglect in prosecuting its case was "excusable," courts should consider "the danger of prejudice to the [non-movant], the length of the delay and its potential impact on judicial proceedings, the reason for the delay, including whether it was within the reasonable control of the movant, and whether the movant acted in good faith." Pioneer Investment Services v. Brunswick Assocs., 507 U.S. 380, 395, 113 S.Ct. 1489, 123 L.Ed.2d 74 (1993); George Harms Construction, 371 F.3d at 163 (adopting the Pioneer framework).

B. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6)

"The [d]istrict [c]court, in deciding a motion under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), [is] required to accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint and draw all inferences in the facts alleged in the light most favorable to the [Plaintiff]." Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 228 (3d Cir. 2008). "While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, [ ] a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). "[A court is] not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation." Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986). "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above a speculative level, [ ] on the assumption that all factual allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)." Bell at 555-56. The Complaint must set forth direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material elements necessary to sustain recovery under some ...


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