Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

CALHOUN v. FRUNGILLO CATERING DESIGN

August 8, 2005.

LINDA CALHOUN, Plaintiff,
v.
FRUNGILLO CATERING DESIGN and, VARANO PHOTOGRAPHY, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOSEPH GREENAWAY, District Judge

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This case is unpublished as indicated by the issuing court.] OPINION

INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before this Court on the motion of Defendant Frungillo Catering Design ("Defendant") to vacate a default entry, pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 55(c), and the cross-motion of Plaintiff Linda Calhoun ("Plaintiff") for a default judgment, pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 55(b). For the following reasons, Defendant's motion to vacate the entry of default is granted and Plaintiff's cross-motion is denied as moot.

  BACKGROUND

  Defendant was the caterer for a wedding at the Skylands Manor in Ringwood, New Jersey on March 2, 2002. (Affidavit of Robert Frungillo ("Frungillo Aff."), at ¶ 2.) Plaintiff, a florist and floral designer, was hired to decorate the wedding cake and provide flowers for the wedding and reception (Frungillo Aff. ¶ 3). Varano was hired as the photographer for the wedding. (Affidavit of Linda Calhoun ("Pl. Aff."), at ¶ 4.) For the wedding at Skylands-Manor, Defendant baked a four tiered cake (Frungillo Aff. ¶ 2), Plaintiff decorated the wedding cake, and Varano photographed the completed cake ("Work"). (Frungillo Aff. ¶ 3; Pl. Aff. ¶ 3.)

  Subsequent to the wedding, Defendant placed an advertisement ("Ad") in one or more bridal magazines promoting the Skylands Manor. (Frungillo Aff. ¶ 9.) The Ad contained a picture of the outside of Skylands Manor as well as four other pictures, one of which was a picture of a wedding cake that Plaintiff claims to be her copyright protected Work. (Pl. Aff. ¶ 4.)

  Plaintiff sent cease-and-desist letters to Defendant on or about March 19, 2003 and August 22, 2003, in which she asked Defendant to stop running all advertisements in any form containing the Work. Defendant did not respond to the cease-and-desist letters. (Pl. Aff. ¶ 5.) On August 22, 2003, Plaintiff registered her Work with the United States Copyright Office. (Pl. Aff. ¶ 6.) Plaintiff registered her Work as a Sculpture entitled "A Floral Design for a Wedding Cake." (Pl. Aff. ¶ 6.)

  On August 25, 2003, Plaintiff filed suit in this Court against Defendant and Varano Photography seeking damages for copyright infringement, pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 101, and unfair competition, pursuant to N.J. STAT. ANN. § 56:4-1 (2001). (Pl. Aff. ¶ 6.) On February 3, 2004, Defendant sent a letter to this Court stating that: (1) he was representing himself; (2) denying all allegations set forth in the complaint; and (3) seeking to join in Varano's motion to dismiss, which was pending at that time. Defendant did not appear for oral argument on February 27, 2004, when this Court granted in part and denied in part Varano's motion to dismiss and directed Plaintiff to file an amended pleading by March 26, 2004. Plaintiff and Varano Photography settled, and on June 24, 2004, this Court dismissed Varano from this action. Plaintiff filed a second amended complaint on March 26, 2004. Defendant failed to answer and Plaintiff requested an entry of default, pursuant to Rule 55(a) on February 2, 2005. The Clerk of the Court entered a default against Defendant on February 2, 2005. On March 22, 2005, Defendant moved to set aside the default entry, pursuant to Rule 55(c), and Plaintiff cross-moved for default judgment, pursuant to Rule 55(b)(2).

  LEGAL STANDARD

  Defaults are disfavored, and where a party has moved to set aside a default, doubtful cases should be resolved in favor of the party moving to set aside a default entry "so that cases may be decided on their merits." See United States v. $55,518.05 in U.S. Currency, 728 F.2d 192, 194-95 (3d Cir. 1984). "Between the extremes of repeated contumacious conduct and innocent procedural error are the manifold instances of neglect and inadvertence that require trial courts to weigh the equities of the situation and the need for the efficacious resolution of controversies." Feliciano v. Reliant Tooling Co., Ltd., 691 F.2d 653, 656 (3d Cir. 1982). "The exercise of such judgment does not lend itself to a rigid formula or to a per se rule." Hritz v. Woma Corp., 732 F.2d 1178, 1181 (3d Cir. 1984).

  Rule 55(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that "[f]or good cause shown, the court may set aside an entry of default and, if a judgment by default has been entered, may likewise set it aside in accordance with Rule 60(b)." In resolving a motion to set aside a default under Rule 55(c), courts should consider: (1) whether the defendant has a meritorious defense; (2) whether the default was the result of the defendant's culpable conduct; and (3) whether the plaintiff will be prejudiced. See $55,518.05 in U.S. Currency, 728 F.2d at 194-95. DISCUSSION

  In deciding a motion to vacate a default entry, courts should consider whether the party seeking to vacate the default has demonstrated good cause. See FED. R. CIV. P. 55(c). Any doubts should be resolved in favor of vacating a default entry so that cases may be decided on their merits. See $55,518.05 in U.S. Currency, 728 F.2d at 194-95. Courts should examine whether the defendant may have a meritorious defense, assess the prejudice to the plaintiff of vacating a default, and evaluate whether the default resulted from the culpable conduct of the defendant. Id.

  This Court has considered these factors and the parties' submissions. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion to vacate the entry of default shall be granted and ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.