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International Union of Painters v. Premier Painting and Decorating

January 11, 2011

INTERNATIONAL UNION OF PAINTERS AND ALLIED TRADES DISTRICT
COUNCIL 711 HEALTH & WELFARE, VACATION, AND APPRENTICE FUNDS
AND HARRY HARCHETTS, AS TRUSTEE AND FIDUCIARY; AND INTERNATIONAL PAINTERS AND ALLIED TRADES INDUSTRY PENSION FUND AND GARY J. MEYERS,
AS TRUSTEE AND FIDUCIARY, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
PREMIER PAINTING AND DECORATING, INC. D/B/A
PREMIER INTERIOR DESIGNS, LLC DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thompson, U.S.D.J.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION & ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter has come before the Court upon Defendant Premier Interior Designs, LLC's ("Premier Interior") Motion to Vacate Default Judgment [docket # 32]. Plaintiffs International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 711 Health & Welfare, Vacation, and Apprentice Funds (APDC 711 Funds@), Harry Harchetts, International Painter and Allied Trades Industry Pension Fund (AIUPAT Fund@) and Gary J. Meyers (collectively, "Plaintiffs") oppose the motion [34]. The Court has decided the motion upon the submissions of the parties and without oral argument, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 78(b). For the reasons stated below, Defendant's Motion is granted.

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 711 Health & Welfare, Vacation, and Apprentice Funds ("PDC 711 Funds"), Harry Harchetts, International Painter and Allied Trades Industry Pension Fund ("IUPAT Fund") and Gary J. Meyers (collectively, "Plaintiffs") filed the initial Complaint on November 11, 2008, against Premier Interior Designs, LLC ("Premier Interior") and Vincent Gallo ("Gallo"), individually, jointly, severally and in the alternative [1]. On January 28, 2009, upon Plaintiffs' request, the clerk entered default as to Premier Interior for failure to plead. On April 6, 2009, Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Default Judgment [8]. We denied that motion without prejudice in an Order dated July 8, 2009, based on the Plaintiffs' failure to sufficiently support their request for judgment*fn1 [11].

Plaintiffs then filed an Amended Complaint on November 20, 2009, against Premier Painting and Decorating, Inc., d/b/a Premier Interior Designs, LLC ("Premier Painting") [13]. On January 15, 2010, upon Plaintiffs' request, the Clerk entered default as to Premier Painting for failure to plead. This Court held a hearing on June 3, 2010, to determine the amount of damages. We then granted the Plaintiffs' Motion for Default on June 14, 2010, ordering payment of $51,197.11 to PDC 711 Fund and $114,051.45 to the IUPAT Fund, in addition to attorneys' fees and costs of $19,888.90 [22].

On September 10, 2010, Defendant Premier Painting filed the present Motion to Vacate Default. In support thereof, Defendant raises two arguments: (1) that the default judgment was "void" under Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(c), and (2) that the discretionary factors laid out by the Third Circuitfavor vacatur.

III. ANALYSIS

A.Legal Standard for Motions to Vacate Default

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(c) 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)." Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(c). Rule 60(b) lays out six reasons for which a court may grant relief from a final judgment, including where "the judgment is void." Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(4).

Where a default judgment was authorized, a district court may nonetheless exercise its discretion to vacate default based on the following factors: (1) whether the plaintiff will be prejudiced, (2) whether the defendant has a meritorious defense; and (3) whether the default was the result of the defendant's culpable conduct. Gold Kist, Inc. v. Laurinburg Oil Co., Inc., 756 F.2d 14, 19 (3d Cir. 1985). Vacatur should be liberally granted so that cases may be decided on the merits. See, e.g., Feliciano v. Reliant Tooling Co., 691 F.2d 653, 656 (3d Cir. 1982).

B.Service of Process

Defendant argues that the default judgment was "void" under Rule 60(b)(4) due to ineffective service of process. ...


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