Beckwith v. National Railroad Passenger Corporation et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION and Order Dismissing 2 Plaintiff's Complaint; granting 18 Defendants Motion to Dismiss for Insufficiency of Process and Lack of Jurisdiction;. Signed by Judge Roger W Titus on 3/25/14. (am2s, Deputy Clerk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
BERTIE W. BECKWITH
Case No.: RWT 13cv3312
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
On December 7, 2012, Plaintiff Bertie W. Beckwith filed a complaint against National
Railroad Passenger Corporation (“Amtrak”) and the State of Maryland in the Circuit Court for
Prince George’s County alleging that she slipped and fell on a MARC train and requesting
damages in the amount of $500,000. ECF No. 2. Service was not initially effected on the
Defendants, and therefore, on May 24, 2013, the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County
entered Judgment dismissing the matter for lack of jurisdiction. See ECF No. 18, Exhibit D. On
July 30, 2013, the Plaintiff filed a Motion for Reconsideration of Dismissal, ECF No. 6, which
was granted in part on August 7, 2013. ECF No. 8. On August 30, 2013, the Plaintiff filed a
Motion to Reissue Summons and on October 8, 2013, she served the summons and complaint on
Amtrak.1 ECF Nos. 9, 10, 11.
On November 5, 2013, Amtrak filed a Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction and
Insufficiency of Process. ECF No. 18. On November 6, 2013, Amtrak removed the case to this
Court. ECF No. 14. On February 7, 2014, the Court sent correspondence to the Plaintiff notifying
On October 11, 2013, Plaintiff dismissed the State of Maryland from the action. See ECF No. 18, Exhibit D.
her of her right to respond to the motion within seventeen days. ECF No. 22. The Plaintiff has
not filed a response.
Amtrak’s unopposed Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction and Insufficiency of
Process is well taken. Amtrak was never properly served, the case was therefore dismissed, and
the Plaintiff failed to timely request reconsideration of the dismissal. After the initial dismissal in
May, 2013, the Plaintiff could request that the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County exercise
its revisory power under two circumstances: either (a) within 30 days after entry of judgment or
(b) at any time “in case of fraud, mistake, or irregularity.” See MD Rule 2-535. The Plaintiff’s
motion for reconsideration was filed over sixty days after the dismissal and she did not make a
showing of fraud, mistake, or irregularity. The bases for her motion for reconsideration were that
(1) her counsel was “unable” to serve Amtrak, (2) her counsel did not receive a copy of the
notice of dismissal, and (3) she would be prejudiced by dismissal because she could not refile her
complaint due to the statute of limitations having run. ECF No. 6. These reasons are not enough
to constitute fraud, mistake or irregularity as required by Maryland Rule 2-535. To the extent
that any alleged failure of the court or clerk to deliver notice of the dismissal to her counsel
would be an irregularity, a “defendant seeking to reopen an enrolled judgment must show that
such an irregularity existed by clear and convincing evidence.” Estime v. King, 9 A.3d 148, 153
(Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2010) (discussing when failure of an employee of the court or clerk’s office
to perform a duty required by statute or Rule constitutes irregularity under 2-535(b)). The
Plaintiff did not allege that this constituted an irregularity, let alone make such a showing by
clear and convincing evidence.
After Plaintiff’s complaint was dismissed in May, 2013, she failed to timely exercise any
post-judgment remedies and she failed to allege any basis for the Circuit Court for Prince
George’s County to exercise its revisory authority under Rule 2-535. Accordingly, it is this 25th
day of March, 2014, by the United States District Court for the District of Maryland,
ORDERED, that the Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss for Insufficiency of Process and
Lack of Jurisdiction (ECF No. 18) is GRANTED; and it is further
ORDERED, that the Plaintiff’s Complaint (ECF No. 2) is DISMISSED; and it is further
ORDERED, that the Clerk is directed to CLOSE this case.
ROGER W. TITUS
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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