Ramsay, et al v. Global Digital Solutions, Inc., et al
ORDER denying 11 Motion for Entry of Default as set out. Signed by District Judge William H. Steele on 6/13/2017. (srd)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
JOHN RAMSAY, et al.,
GLOBAL DIGITAL SOLUTIONS,
INC., et al.,
CIVIL ACTION 17-0063-WS-N
This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs’ Motion for Entry of Default [Against]
Defendant Richard J. Sullivan (doc. 11). That Motion, which was filed on May 25, 2017,
reflected that defendant Sullivan had been served with process on April 18, 2017, but had failed
to plead or otherwise defend against the Complaint within 21 days thereafter, such that entry of
default was appropriate pursuant to Rule 55(a), Fed.R.Civ.P.
On June 12, 2017, antecedent to any ruling on such Motion for Entry of Default,
defendants collectively filed their Answer to Complaint (doc. 12).1 On its face, this Answer
purports to have been filed by “Defendants, Global Digital Solutions, Inc. (‘GDSI’), North
American Custom Specialty Vehicles, Inc. (‘NACSV’) and Richard J. Sullivan (‘Sullivan’).”
(Id. at 1.) Moreover, the attorney filing such Answer purports to represent GDSI, NACSV and
Sullivan collectively in these proceedings. (Id. at 9.) In light of the foregoing, then, the court
file confirms that Sullivan has now filed an Answer, albeit in belated fashion.
As a general proposition, “there is a strong policy of determining cases on their merits
and we therefore view defaults with disfavor.” In re Worldwide Web Systems, Inc., 328 F.3d
1291, 1295 (11th Cir. 2003). Indeed, “[d]efaults are reserved for rare occasions and when doubt
That filing is styled “Defendants’ Answer to Complaint and NACSV’s
Counterclaim.” However, no Counterclaim by defendant North American Custom Specialty
Vehicles, Inc., or any other defendant for that matter, is set forth therein.
exists as to whether a default should be granted or vacated, the doubt should be resolved in favor
of the defaulting party.” Canfield v. VSH Restaurant Corp., 162 F.R.D. 431, 434 (N.D.N.Y.
1995); see also McGarey v. York County, 233 F.R.D. 220, 222 (D. Me. 2006) (rule governing
defaults “is tempered by the philosophy that actions should ordinarily be resolved on their
merits”) (citation omitted); McMillen v. J.C. Penney Co., 205 F.R.D. 557, 558 (D. Nev. 2002)
(“Because defaults are generally disfavored, courts resolve such motions so as to encourage a
decision on the merits.”). Given the strong policy in federal court for actions to be decided on
their merits, and given that defendant Sullivan has now filed an answer and appears to be
prepared to defend against this action on the merits, entry of default against Sullivan would be an
excessive and unduly onerous sanction, notwithstanding his delinquent filing of an Answer and
his failure to offer any justification for his dilatory conduct. Accordingly, plaintiffs’ Motion for
Entry of Default is denied at this time.
DONE and ORDERED this 13th day of June, 2017.
s/ WILLIAM H. STEELE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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