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United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
April 3, 1984, Argued ; November 5, 1984, Decided
[*865] OPINION OF THE COURT
SLOVITER, Circuit Judge.
This appeal, as well as another decided today involving the same attorney and district court judge, Scarborough v. Eubanks, 747 F.2d 871, is brought from a final order dismissing the complaint with prejudice due to counsel's failure to meet court-imposed deadlines and other procedural requisites.
Lefteri and Athena Poulis filed suit against State Farm Fire and Casualty Company (State Farm) in November 1981, in the Court of Common Pleas of Washington County, Pennsylvania, to recover under an insurance policy after fire damaged their home. State Farm removed the case to the United [**2] States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania based on diversity of citizenship. In its answer, it denied liability, asserting that plaintiffs had intentionally caused the fire, had concealed and misrepresented information, and had not filed their action in time.
On March 12, 1982, the district court ordered that discovery would close June 14, 1982; that plaintiffs' pre-trial statement would be due July 5; and that defendant's statement would be due July 26. A pre-trial conference was set for August 13. The docket reveals no action by plaintiffs seeking discovery. On April 15, State Farm filed notice of service of interrogatories on plaintiffs. No answers to these interrogatories were or have ever been filed, and plaintiffs did not file their pre-trial statement by July 5 as required. Therefore defendant filed its pre-trial statement first, on July 28, together with a motion to compel answers to interrogatories. A member of the district judge's staff advised plaintiffs' counsel, George Retos, Jr., that the statement was overdue and Retos promised to submit a statement by the next day. He neither did so nor requested any extension. On August 5 the district court, [**3] sua sponte , dismissed the case with prejudice for plaintiffs' failure to comply with the orders to file the pre-trial statement.
Retos filed a pre-trial statement on August 9, together with a motion under Rule 60(b) to reconsider and set aside the dismissal, alleging that an illness prevented him from working between July 6 through July 17; that other attorneys could not have taken over because only Retos spoke Greek and could communicate with plaintiff Lefteri Poulis; that Retos' pregnant wife went into false labor on July 29 and 30, and that he had "inadvertently set aside the required work for the instant case on July 29, 1982, due to his concern for his wife" and was "render[ed] unable to prepare the necessary Pre-Trial Statement;" that on his return to work other tasks had backlogged; and that although he had dictated a statement on August 4, it had been mailed on August 6 when it was typed and ready.
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747 F.2d 863 *; 1984 U.S. App. LEXIS 16986 **; 40 Fed. R. Serv. 2d (Callaghan) 313
LEFTERI POULIS and ATHENA POULIS, his wife, Appellants v. STATE FARM FIRE AND CASUALTY COMPANY
Prior History: [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh).
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