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Williams v. County of Union

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

January 8, 2018

RONALD WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
COUNTY OF UNION, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Michael A. Hammer, United States Magistrate Judge

         This matter having come before the Court by way of pro se Plaintiff's motion for default judgment as to Defendants County of Union, Union County Prosecutor Office, and Julie A. Peterman [D.E. 17] and a cross-motion for an extension of time to answer by Defendants Julie A. Peterman and the Union County Prosecutor Office [D.E. 18];

         and the County of Union having filed an opposition to Plaintiff's motion for default judgment [D.E. 19];

         and the Court having considered the motions, the record, and the governing law;

         and the Court deciding the motions without oral argument pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78 and Local Civil Rule 78.1;

         and it appearing that default was never entered against Defendants, and accordingly, Plaintiff is unable to convert entry of default into a motion for default judgment;

         and it also appearing, that in any event, Plaintiff cannot obtain either entry of default or default judgment against the County of Union in light of the motion to dismiss filed by the County September 29, 2017 [D.E. 6];

         and the Court noting that even if default had been entered against Defendants Julie A. Peterman and the Union County Prosecutor Office, Federal Rule of Procedure 55(c) provides, in part, that the court “may set aside an entry of default for good cause, and it may set aside a default judgment under Rule 60(b);”[1]

         and the decision to set aside an entry of default being primarily left to a court's own sound discretion, see United States v. $55, 518.05 in U.S. Currency, 728 F.2d 192, 194 (3d Cir. 1984);

         and courts disfavoring default because “the interests of justice are best served by obtaining a decision on the merits, ” Choice Hotels Int'l, Inc. v. Pennave Assocs., Inc., 192 F.R.D. 171, 173 (E.D. Pa. 2000); see also $55, 518.05 in U.S. Currency, 728 F.2d at 194-95 (“We require doubtful cases to be resolved in favor of the party moving to set aside the default judgment ‘so that cases may be decided on their merits.”');

         and the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit requiring that courts consider the following four factors when deciding to vacate the entry of default: (1) whether lifting the default would prejudice plaintiff; (2) whether defendant has a prima facie meritorious defense; (3) whether defaulting defendant's conduct is excusable or culpable; and (4) the effectiveness of alternative sanctions, Emcasco Ins. Co. v. Sambrick, 834 F.2d 71, 73 (3d Cir. 1987);

         and, even though courts weigh all four factors, the threshold question is generally whether Defendant asserts a meritorious defense, see $55, 518.05 in U.S. Currency, 728 F.2d at 195;

         and the Court finding that Defendants have asserted potentially meritorious defenses;[2]

and the Court also finding that vacating any entry of default will not prejudice ...


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