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which traditionally has been given a liberal interpretation. Tozer v. Charles A. Krause

Milling Co., 189 F.2d 242, 245 (3d Cir. 1951) (granting relief under Rule 60(b) and

noting that courts have uniformly held that Rule 60(b) must be given a liberal

construction); United States v. Enigwe, 320 F. Supp. 2d 301, 306 (E.D. Pa. 2004) (Rule

60(b) motion to set aside judgment is to be construed liberally to do substantial justice).

Deciding cases on their merits, wherever practicable, is favored. Hritz v. Woma Corp.,

732 F.2d 1178, 1181 (3d Cir. 1984) (“we have repeatedly stated our preference that cases

be disposed of on the merits whenever practicable”); Tozer, 189 F.2d at 245 (“[T]he

interests of justice are best served by a trial on the merits; only after a careful study of all

relevant considerations should courts refuse to open default judgments”).

Rule 60(b) provides that upon such terms as are just, the court may relieve a party

or a party’s legal representative from a final judgment, Order, or proceeding for the

following reasons: (1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect; (2) newly

discovered evidence; (3) fraud, misrepresentation or other misconduct of an adverse

party; (4) the judgment is void; (5) the satisfaction, release, or discharge of a judgment or

inequity in the prospective application of the judgment; or (6) any other reason justifying

relief from operation of the judgment. Here, only the first reason, i.e., excusable neglect,

is conceivably applicable.7 Thompson’s failure to remain accessible to counsel during the

7 The sixth potential basis under Rule 60(b) is a catch-all provision, and grants federal courts authority to provide relief from a final judgment “upon such terms as are just,” so long as the motion for relief is made “within a reasonable time” and does not rely on the grounds for



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