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Patricia Mary Mancuso & Alfred Mancuso v. Tyler Dane

May 1, 2012

PATRICIA MARY MANCUSO & ALFRED MANCUSO PLAINTIFFS,
v.
TYLER DANE, LLC D/B/A ROD REEL TAVERN, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joseph H. Rodriguez, United States District Judge

AND

MEMORANDUM ORDER

Presently before the Court is the motion [Dkt. Entry No. 42] of Plaintiffs Patricia Mary Mancuso and Alfred Mancuso ("Mancuso") for default judgment against Defendant Tyler Dane, LLC, d/b/a Rod and Reel Tavern ("Dane") pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 55. For the reasons set forth below, Mancuso's motion for default judgment will be granted, but the Court reserves decision on its determination of damages.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiffs Mary and Alfred Mancuso filed a complaint against defendant Tyler Dane, LLC in this Court on October 24, 2010. Plaintiffs, Mary and Alfred are wife and husband and citizens of the Pennsylvania. (Compl. ¶ 3.) Defendant, Tyler Dane, LLC, is a New Jersey limited liability company doing business as the Rod and Reel Tavern, with a place of business located at 1301 E. Beach Avenue, Brigantine, NJ 08203. (Id. at ¶ 6.) Plaintiffs allege that Patricia tripped and fell over a misplaced railroad tie located in an unlit walkway on Defendant's premises. (Id. at ¶ 7.) Plaintiffs further allege that Patricia suffered serious and permanent injuries as a result of her fall, the medical records of which were submitted to the court. (Id.)

The Complaint and Summons were served on Defendant on November 20, 2008. The Court notified Plaintiffs by letter dated November 17, 2008 that the Complaint failed to properly plead the statutory requirements for diversity of citizenship and Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint on December 10, 2008. Defendant never answered the Amended Complaint and the Clerk entered default on June 4, 2009. Plaintiffs filed this unopposed Motion for Default Judgment on October 25, 2010. In a previous Order, the Court directed Plaintiffs to submit proof of service of the Amended Complaint no later than December 9, 2010 and set a hearing date for December 16, 2010 to determine the propriety of default judgment, as to both liability and damages [Dkt. Entry No. 19]. In response, Plaintiffs submitted certification that the Amended Complaint was served upon the Defendant by mail on December 7, 2010 [Dkt. Entry No.

21]. A request for default judgment filed on March 10, 2011 was denied due to improper service. [Dkt. Entry No. 25.] Following proper service on November 30, 2011, another motion for default judgment as to liability was filed on February 10, 2012. [Dkt. Entry No. 41.]

II. JURISDICTION

Diversity jurisdiction over Mancuso's federal law claim is conferred by 28 U.S.C. § 1332, because complete diversity exists. The Plaintiffs are Pennsylvania citizens, and the Defendant is a New Jersey corporation with its principle place of business located in Brigantine, New Jersey. The Plaintiffs are requesting damages in excess of $75,000. This Court exercises personal jurisdiction over Dane because service of process on Dane was proper and its principal place of business is in New Jersey.

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55 governs a court's decision to enter default judgment against a defendant. See FED. R. CIV. P. 55. To obtain default judgment, the plaintiff must have properly served the defendant with the summons and complaint in the matter. Lampe v. Xouth, Inc., 952 F.2d 697, 700-701 (3d Cir. 1991). Pursuant to Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a corporation may be served process "by delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to an officer, a managing or general agent, or any other agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process." FED. R. CIV. P. 4(h)(1)(B).

Obtaining default judgment against a defendant is a two-step process. First, the Clerk of the Court must enter the defendant's default after the properly served defendant has failed to plead or otherwise defend himself. FED. R. CIV. P. 55(a).

Second, on the plaintiff's request, the Clerk may enter default judgment against the defendant for the amount and costs the plaintiff requests if the plaintiff's claim is for a sum certain or a sum that can be ...


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