United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
B. Russell Senior Judge.
matter is before the Court upon three motions - a motion by
Defendants for leave to file a sealed document (DN 105) and
two motions by Plaintiff for a default judgment (DNs 100
& 118). The Court will consider each of these motions in
MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE A SEALED DOCUMENT (DN 105)
motion, Defendants ask permission to file the last known
addresses of two Defendants under seal. This motion is
unopposed. Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that this motion
(DN 105) is GRANTED.
MOTION FOR A DEFAULT JUDGMENT (DN 100)
Court will next address Plaintiff's first motion for a
default judgment. In support of this motion, Plaintiff states
that “Defendants ask for a 30 days extention to dispute
about the facts of the civil case. The record shows there is
nothing in dispute.” In their response, Defendants
argue that a default judgment is not warranted because
Plaintiff has not moved for an entry of default and because
the record reflects that Defendants have actively
participated in this case and defended themselves.
Court agrees that Plaintiff's motion should be denied for
these reasons. For Plaintiff to obtain a default judgment, he
must first request the Clerk's entry of default pursuant
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 55(a). Rule 55(b)
governs default judgment. “An entry of default and a
default judgment are distinct concepts which must be treated
separately.” Redd v. Vails, No. 14-14340, 2015
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37707, at *5 (E.D. Mich. Mar. 25, 2015).
“These sections have separate headings and procedures
that are distinct from one another. Thus, a plain reading of
Rule 55 demonstrates that entry of default by the clerk is a
prerequisite to an entry of default judgment.”
VonGrabe v. Sprint PCS, 312 F.Supp.2d 1313, 1318
(S.D. Cal. 2004). Stated another way,
[o]btaining a default judgment is a two-step process: first,
the party seeking a default judgment files a motion for entry
of default by demonstrating that the opposing party has
failed to answer or otherwise respond to the complaint;
second, once the clerk has entered a default, the moving
party may then seek entry of a default judgment by the Court
against the defaulting party.
Barcey v. La Beau, Inc., No. 14-10249, 2015 U.S.
Dist. LEXIS 18622, at *4 (E.D. Mich. Feb. 17, 2015). Thus,
because no default has been entered by the Clerk in this
action, Plaintiff's motion for a default judgment must be
Plaintiff's motion must also be denied for substantive
reasons. A default judgment may be entered when “a
party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is
sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). The determination of whether to grant a
default judgment is within the sound discretion of the
district court. Silva v. City of Madison, 69 F.3d
1368, 1377 (7th Cir. 1995); United Coin Meter Co. v.
Seaboard Coastline R.R., 705 F.2d 839, 849 (6th Cir.
1983). “In determining whether . . . to grant a default
judgment, the court must balance three factors: (1) whether
the plaintiff will be prejudiced, (2) whether the defendant
has a meritorious defense, and (3) whether the culpable
conduct of the defendant led to the default.”
Jackson v. Hamilton Cty. Cmty. Mental Health Bd.,
174 F.R.D. 394, 395 (S.D. Ohio 1997) (quoting Shepard
Claims Serv. v. William Darrah & Assocs., 796 F.2d
190, 192-94 (6th Cir. 1986)); see also Russell
v. City of Farmington Hills, 34 F. App'x 196, 198
(6th Cir. 2002) (setting forth seven factors to consider).
Delay alone is insufficient to establish prejudice; Plaintiff
must show that the delay will result in loss of evidence,
create difficulties with discovery, or provide greater
opportunity for fraud or collusion. INVST Fin. Grp., Inc.
v. Chem-Nuclear Sys., Inc., 815 F.2d 391, 398 (6th Cir.
1987). On prong two, “if any defense relied upon states
a defense good at law, then a meritorious defense has been
advanced.” Seaboard Coastline R.R., 705 F.2d
at 845. Prong three requires that “the conduct of a
defendant must display either an intent to thwart judicial
proceedings or a reckless disregard for the effect of its
conduct on those proceedings.” INVST, 815 F.2d
at 399. Moreover, the law does not favor defaults, and the
Court should decide any question whether to grant default
judgment in favor of the defaulting party. Seaboard
Coastline R.R., 705 F.2d at 846. A default judgment is a
“drastic” measure, “which should be
resorted to only in the most extreme cases.”
Id. at 849.
record does reflect that Defendants have not yet filed an
answer. However, Plaintiff has not argued or shown that
failure has caused him prejudice. Moreover, a review of the
record establishes that Defendants have actively litigated
this case by filing responses to Plaintiff's multiple
motions to compel, motions for preliminary injunctions, and
motions for summary judgment. Thus, the Court finds that this
is not the extreme case in which the drastic measure of a
default judgment should be used.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff's first motion for a
default judgment (DN 100) is DENIED. However, IT IS FURTHER
ORDERED that Defendants shall file an answer to the complaint
(DN 1) and amended complaints (DNs 10, 12, 48, & 52), to
the extent the Court has allowed the claims therein to
proceed, within 21 days from entry of this
Memorandum Opinion and Order.
MOTION FOR A DEFAULT JUDGMENT (DN 118)
motion, Plaintiff seemingly seeks a default judgment because
Defendants have not fully complied with this Court's
April 6, 2017, Memorandum and Order in which it granted
Plaintiff's motions to compel and ordered Defendants to
produce any documents responsive to such (DN 103). In their
response, Defendants admit that they have not provided every
document requested by Plaintiff, but ...