Papera v. Pennsylvania Quarried Blueston Co., No. 18-3060 (3d Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
The Paperas sued the Company. The court sent the case to mediation. In May 2016, the Paperas reported that the parties had settled and asked for “a sixty (60) day Order of Dismissal,” to be followed by an agreement for the court’s approval. The May 2016 Order stated that the case was dismissed and the parties had 60 days to finalize the settlement. The order’s minute entry stated the dismissal was “without prejudice”; to reinstate the action if a settlement was not consummated, a party would have to show good cause within 60 days. The court never got a settlement agreement. After the 60-day period elapsed, the court did not dismiss with prejudice. In September 2016, the Paperas asked for a conference call. On that call, the court reportedly stated that “it no longer had jurisdiction” and that it had administratively closed the case. A month later, the Paperas filed a new complaint. It was assigned to the same judge, who granted summary judgment based on claim preclusion and declined to reopen the May 2016 Order. The Third Circuit vacated and remanded. Because the order dismissing the first suit did not clearly say that the dismissal was involuntary or with prejudice, it did not preclude the second suit. For a dismissal to preclude claims, it must be with prejudice.