George Johnson, Jr., proceeding pro se, appeals from the District Court's order denying his motion to reopen his case pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b). For the following reasons, we will affirm.
Johnson was involved in an administrative proceeding before the Philadelphia Housing Authority, after which he filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against the Philadelphia Housing Authority and its Executive Director. Johnson charged the defendants with perpetrating "fraud upon the court" that resulted in a series of adverse procedural rulings and failures by the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas prothonotary. The District Court granted Johnson in forma pauperis status and, before the complaint was served,
Five years after the District Court entered judgment, Johnson filed a motion pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b), alleging that the judgment was void due to fraud. The District Court denied the motion. Johnson appeals.
We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291. We review Rule 60(b) dismissals, other than those under Rule 60(b)(4), for abuse of discretion; for Rule 60(b)(4) dismissals, our review is plenary.
A motion for relief from judgment based on fraud must be filed not more than one year after the judgment was entered. Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(c)(1). A Rule 60(b)(6) motion must be brought within a reasonable time.
Nor did the District Court err in determining that the motion was meritless. The District Court determined that Johnson had failed to explain the basis for his fraud allegation. We agree. While Johnson contended that there was a conspiracy between the defendants and the clerk, he presented no evidence of this. In his brief, Johnson argues that a District Court order was not signed and that this supports his allegation of a conspiracy; however, our review of the order in question reveals that the order was electronically signed by the District Judge. Johnson also claimed that the clerk's failure to serve the defendants is evidence of their collusion. As we discussed in our prior opinion, the Court independently identified a flaw in the complaint that, in its view, rendered service (and response by the defendants) pointless. Therefore, relief from judgment under Rules 60(b)(3) or 60(b)(6) would not be warranted.
Finally, the District Court did not err in denying Johnson's motion to the extent he asserted that the judgment was void under Rule 60(b)(4). Johnson argued that the judgment was void because the defendants had defaulted in the state court proceedings and because the defendants failed to enter an appearance in the District Court. Again, the defendants were not required to enter their appearance as the District Court
In his brief, Johnson also argues that the defendants defaulted in the District Court by failing to respond to his original complaint. This issue concerns rulings related to his original civil action, but an appeal from the denial of Rule 60(b) relief does not bring up the underlying judgment for review unless it is timely filed and tolls the time for appeal under Rule 4(a)(4).
Accordingly, we will affirm the order of the District Court.