Duran v. Bay Inn & Suites, L.L.C. of Foley et al
ORDER granting 32 Motion to Set Aside Default. The Clerk's entry of default against Bay Inn is set aside. Signed by Chief Judge William H. Steele on 10/24/2012. (tgw)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
) CIVIL ACTION 12-0310-WS-N
BAY INN & SUITES, L.L.C., etc., et al., )
This matter is before the Court on the motion of defendant Bay Inn & Suites, LLC
(“Bay Inn”) to set aside entry of default. (Doc. 32). The parties have filed briefs in
support of their respective positions, (Docs. 32, 34, 35), and the motion is ripe for
“The court may set aside an entry of default for good cause, and it may set aside a
default judgment under Rule 60(b).” Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(c). The burden is on Bay Inn, as
the defaulting party, to show good cause. African Methodist Episcopal Church, Inc. v.
Ward, 185 F.3d 1201, 1202 (11th Cir. 1999).
The good cause standard is a “liberal” one, “elastic” but not endlessly so.
Compania Interamericana Export-Import, S.A. v. Compania Dominicana de Aviacion, 88
F.3d 948, 951 (11th Cir. 1996) (internal quotes omitted). While there are no absolute
criteria that must be satisfied, the most commonly considered factors are: (1) whether the
default was culpable or willful; (2) whether setting aside the default would prejudice the
plaintiff; and (3) whether the defaulting party has a meritorious defense. Id. These are
the only factors either party asks to be considered, and the Court accordingly limits its
evaluation to these three.
Willfulness or culpability is shown “by displaying either an intentional or reckless
disregard for the judicial proceedings.” Compania Interamericana, 88 F.3d at 951-52.
The record confirms that Bay Inn’s failure to respond to the complaint was not due to
disregard for the judicial proceedings but was due to the individual, pro se defendants’
delay in recognizing that only a licensed attorney, and not they themselves, could
represent Bay Inn’s interests in court. An individual defendant, as manager of Bay Inn,
filed an answer on its behalf in May and again in June, (Docs. 4, 6), so it is clear there
was no intent to disregard the proceedings. While this defendant’s inability to
comprehend pellucid orders explaining his inability to represent Bay Inn is puzzling,
(Docs. 5, 10, 15), the Court finds it does not rise to the level of willfulness or culpability.
Default was entered against Bay Inn on August 14. (Doc. 24). The individual
defendants did not file appropriate answers until September 7, (Docs. 27-29), and Bay
Inn’s motion to set aside entry of default was filed five days later. The case is still in its
infancy, with the Rule 16(b) scheduling conference yet to occur. (Doc. 36). The Court
discerns, and the plaintiff identifies, no prejudice on this record.
The plaintiff sues for FLSA violations occurring on or after May 10, 2009. (Doc.
1 at 5). Bay Inn has submitted documents reflecting that the plaintiff has already
received a government-brokered settlement of all FLSA claims for the period April 18,
2009 to November 6, 2010. (Doc. 32, Exhibit 1). Thus, at least a portion of the
plaintiff’s FLSA claim appears subject to a facially meritorious defense.
The entirety of the plaintiff’s argument in opposition to Bay Inn’s motion reads as
follows: “The Defendant has failed to demonstrate ‘good cause’ in relation to the setting
aside of default.” (Doc. 34). This ipse dixit provides the Court no basis for concluding
that Bay Inn’s showing, discussed above, is insufficient to establish the requisite good
cause. Accordingly, and for the reasons set forth above, the motion to set aside entry of
default is granted. The Clerk’s entry of default against Bay Inn is set aside.
DONE and ORDERED this 24th day of October, 2012.
s/ WILLIAM H. STEELE
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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