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Jacobs v. Cumberland County Dep't of Corrections

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY


October 21, 2010

REUBEN A. JACOBS, SR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE CUMBERLAND COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Noel L. Hillman, U.S.D.J.

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

HILLMAN, District Judge

This matter having come before the Court on the motion by Plaintiff, Reuben A. Jacobs, Sr., seeking default judgment against Defendants for their purported non-compliance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, specifically their failure to produce discovery in a timely manner; and

Plaintiff having commenced his suit against Defendants around January 2009; and

Plaintiff arguing, in support of his Motion for Default Judgment, that Defendants did not comply with the Magistrate Judge's Scheduling Order and have withheld discovery, to Plaintiff's detriment; and

Counsel for defendants, Zamot, Laambs, and Pratts, explaining, in a letter dated May 21, 2010, that "[t]o the best of my knowledge, plaintiff has not served any specific discovery request directed to the individual defendants, Officer Zomot, Officer Laambs and Officer Pratts"; and

Counsel for defendant, Cumberland County, explaining, in a letter dated May 26, 2010, that Defendants have complied with Plaintiff's requests, albeit tardily;*fn1 and

The Court noting that "[e]ntry of a default judgment is an available sanction for failure to comply with a court's discovery order," Ramada Franchise Sys. v. Patel, 2004 U.S. App. LEXIS 11300, at *7 (3d Cir. Jun. 8, 2004) (quoting Hoxworth v. Blinder, Robinson & Co., Inc., 980 F.2d 912, 919 (3d Cir. 1992)); and

The Court further noting that when determining the propriety of default judgment under such circumstances, a court must consider:

(1) the extent of the party's personal responsibility; (2) the prejudice to the adversary caused by the failure to meet scheduling orders and respond to discovery; (3) a history of dilatoriness; (4) whether the conduct of the party of the attorney was willful or in bad faith; (5) the effectiveness of sanctions other than dismissal, which entails an analysis of alternative sanctions; and (6) the meritoriousness of the claim or defense.

Id. at *8 (quoting Hoxworth, 980 F.2d at 919); and

The Court further noting that "entry of a default judgment is left primarily to the discretion of the district court," Hritz v. Woma Corp., 732 F.2d 1178, 1180 (3d Cir. 1984), and "that the party making the request is not entitled to a default judgment as of right," Franklin v. Nat'l Maritime Union, 1991 U.S. Dist LEXIS 9819, at **3-4 (D.N.J. 1991) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted); and

The Court finding that no prejudice to Plaintiff is clearly discernible from Defendants' alleged malfeasance; and

It appearing that Defendants have substantially complied with Plaintiff's discovery requests; and

It further appearing that any dilatoriness in complying with those requests was not material, continuous, or an act of bad faith; and

The Court further finding that, to the extent that Defendants did not provide all discovery in a timely manner, default judgment is not the appropriate remedy at this time, but that a motion to compel discovery would likely resolve any disputes between the parties and provide whatever relief to which Plaintiff is entitled without circumventing the merits of this case;*fn2

Accordingly,

IT IS HEREBY on this 21st day of October , 2010

ORDERED that Plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment [Doc. # 38] is DENIED.


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