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Valles v. Cumberland County

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

October 30, 2019

EMILY VALLES, Administrator of the Estate of Jamie Gonzalez, AKA Jaime Gonzalez, Plaintiff,
v.
CUMBERLAND COUNTY, WARDEN ROBERT BALICKI, and JASON CORLEY, Defendants.

          RYAN MARC LOCKMAN MARK FROST & ASSOCIATES On behalf of Plaintiff

          MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

          NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.

         WHEREAS, on August 4, 2016, Plaintiff Jaime Gonzalez filed through counsel a complaint alleging that he had been subjected to excessive force while he was a pre-trial detainee at the Cumberland County Jail in 2014; and

         WHEREAS, Gonzalez died in late 2016 and was replaced as the formal Plaintiff in this matter by his mother, Emily Valles, acting as the administrator of Gonzalez's estate (see Docket No. 29); and

         WHEREAS, on August 28, 2019, the Court granted the motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants Cumberland County and Warden Robert Balicki, and those Defendants were dismissed from the action[1]; and

         WHEREAS, as a result of the Court's August 28, 2019 Opinion, the only remaining defendant in the action is Defendant Jason Corley, against whom Plaintiff has asserted claims for excessive force and failure to treat Gonzalez's injuries; and

         WHEREAS, after Corley was served with Plaintiff's complaint and failed to respond, on October 11, 2019, Plaintiff requested that the Clerk enter default against Corley, which the Clerk did that same day; and

         WHEREAS, on October 15, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Default Judgment as to Gonzalez's claims against Corley; and

         WHEREAS, a party seeking default judgment “is not entitled to a default judgment as of a right, ” Franklin v. Nat'l Maritime Union of Am., No. 91-480, 1991 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9819, at *3-4 (D.N.J. 1991) (quoting 10 Wright, Miller & Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2685 (1983)), aff'd, 972 F.2d 1331 (3d Cir. 1992); and

         WHEREAS, the decision to enter 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

         WHEREAS, before entering a default judgment the Court must decide whether “the unchallenged facts constitute a legitimate cause of action, since a party in default does not admit mere conclusions of law, ” Chanel v. Gordashevsky, 558 F.Supp.2d 532, 535 (D.N.J. 2008) (citing Directv, Inc. v. Asher, No. 03-1969, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14027, at *3 (D.N.J. Mar. 14, 2006)); and

         WHEREAS, the Court has reviewed Plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment and finds that Plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment is deficient because Plaintiff does not include in her brief an explanation as to why she is entitled to default judgment, on what claims she is entitled to default judgment, the elements of those claims and how she has shown each of those elements, the appropriate measure of damages under those claims, and what damages she is entitled to, [2] see e.g., Qu Wang v. Fu Leen Meng Restaurant Limited Liability Company, 2018 WL 1027446, at *2 (D.N.J. 2018) (explaining the factors a court must consider in assessing a motion for default judgment); and

         WHEREAS, in light of those deficiencies, this Court finds it cannot enter default judgment against Corley in Plaintiff's favor;

         THEREFORE, IT IS on this 30th ...


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