Relief from judgment of non pros - inactivity - Rule 3051
In Re: Order Amending Rule 3051 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure, No. 574 Civil Procedural Rules Docket
rule - http://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/Supreme/out/574civ.attach.pdf
explanatory comment - http://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/Supreme/out/574civ-rpt.pdf
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has amended Rule 3051 governing relief from a judgment of non pros to clarify the requirements for opening a judgment of non
pros entered for inactivity. In Madrid v. Alpine Mountain Corp., 24 A.3d 380 (Pa. Super. 2011), the Superior Court of Pennsylvania ruled that under the current language of Rule
3051(b) it was compelled to conclude that a plaintiff is not entitled to relief from a judgment of non pros for inactivity without a showing that there was a reasonable explanation or legitimate excuse for the inactivity. Under this interpretation of Rule 3051(b), a judgment of non pros for inactivity cannot be opened even if the record did not establish actual prejudice unless the plaintiff could also show a reasonable explanation or legitimate excuse for the delay.
Thus, while the defendant was required to show that the delay caused actual prejudice in order to obtain a judgment of non pros for inactivity, the plaintiff who cannot show a reasonable excuse for the delay may not challenge the entry of the judgment of non pros on the ground that the record failed to establish actual prejudice.
New subdivision (c) is intended to alter the ruling in Madrid by providing for the opening of a judgment of non pros dismissing a case for inactivity upon a showing that the defendant did not meet each of the three requirements for the entry of a judgment of non pros.
By the Civil Procedural
Diane W. Perer