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Garrison v. Fidelis Recovery Management, LLC

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

September 26, 2017

WALTER GARRISON II, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
FIDELIS RECOVERY MANAGEMENT, LLC, Defendant.

          ORDER

          RENÉE MARIE BUMB, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court upon Plaintiffs' Motion for Default Judgment [Dkt. No. 6].

         According to the Affidavit of Service, “James Martinez, Director of Operation” accepted service of the Summons and Complaint in this action on behalf of Defendant Fidelis Recovery Management, LLC, on December 26, 2016. [Dkt. No. 3]

         On January 10, 2017, Mr. Martinez, on behalf of Defendant Fidelis, completed and signed an Answer to the Complaint using a Court form entitled “Pro Se 3 (Rev. 12/16) The Defendant's Answer to the Complaint, ” and sent it via overnight delivery to the Clerk of Court for docketing. [Dkt. No. 4]

         On January 18, 2017, the Clerk of Court issued the following quality control docket notation: “Please be advised that although an individual is entitled to proceed pro se, a corporation must be represented by counsel.” Nothing on the docket indicates whether Mr. Martinez received this message.

         On February 8, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a Request for Default, see Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a), which was served upon Defendant by Certified and First Class Mail. [Dkt. 5-1]

         The Clerk entered default on February 10, 2017.

         Plaintiffs filed the instant Motion for Default Judgment on March 28, 2017, which was also served on the Defendant by Certified and First Class Mail.

         To date, no attorney has entered an appearance on behalf of Defendant, nor has Mr. Martinez filed any other response to the filings in this case other than his original Answer.

         The Clerk's Entry of Default will be set aside, and the Motion for Default Judgment will be dismissed without prejudice.

         First, the Entry of Default appears to have been entered in error, as an Answer was timely filed. While the Clerk entered a quality control message indicating that a corporation must be represented by its own attorney, the Answer was not stricken. Nor did the quality control message explain the consequences of failing to retain a lawyer to represent the Defendant corporation. Thus, the Court holds that “good cause” exists to set aside the default. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(c); see generally, Farnese v. Bagnasco, 687 F.2d 761, 764 (3d Cir.

         1982)(“this court has often emphasized that it does not favor defaults, and that in a close case doubts should be resolved in favor of setting aside the default and obtaining a decision on the merits.”).

         Second, as to Plaintiffs' Motion for Default Judgment, the moving brief does not cite or apply the Third Circuit's three-part test for default judgment found in Chamberlain v. Giampapa, 210 F.3d 154, 164 (3d Cir. 2000)(“Three factors control whether a default judgment should be granted: (1) prejudice to the plaintiff if default is denied, (2) whether the defendant appears to have a litigable defense, and (3) whether defendant's delay is due to culpable conduct.”).[1]

         Moreover, default judgment may not be entered until a valid default has been entered by ...


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