Garcia v. City of Santa Clara et al

Filing 238

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT 221 237 . (Illston, Susan) (Filed on 5/31/2017)

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 DANIEL C. GARCIA, 8 Plaintiff, 10 CITY OF SANTA CLARA, et al., Re: Dkt. No. 221, 237 Defendants. 11 United States District Court Northern District of California ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT v. 9 Case No. 10-cv-02424-SI 12 Less than three weeks before trial, plaintiff Daniel Garcia, a prisoner of the state of 13 California, brings this motion for entry of default judgment against the remaining defendants in 14 this 28 U.S.C. § 1983 case. Dkt. No. 221. In brief, Mr. Garcia alleges that defendants failed to 15 answer his second amended complaint, and that such failure constitutes an admission of the 16 allegations therein. Mr. Garcia therefore requests entry of default, which, if granted, would leave 17 only the issue of damages for the upcoming jury trial. Although defendants have not yet filed an 18 opposition to plaintiff’s motion, the Court determines that this matter is suitable for resolution 19 without oral argument and, pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b), vacates the hearing currently set 20 for July 7, 2017. Plaintiff’s motion is hereby DENIED.1 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 Plaintiff has failed to show that defendants are in default. Plaintiff’s motion for default judgment overlooks the unusual provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(g)(1), which apply to prisoner complaints brought under § 1983.. Section 1997e(g)(1) allows a defendant to “waive the right of reply” in a civil rights action filed by a prisoner, and provides that “[n]otwithstanding any other law or rule of procedure, such waiver shall not constitute an admission of the allegations contained in the complaint.” The same section also provides, however, that “[n]o relief shall be granted to 1 The parties’ stipulation to have this matter heard on shortened time, Dkt. No. 237, is DENIED AS MOOT. The briefing schedule for this motion is hereby vacated. 1 the plaintiff unless a reply has been filed.” The “reply” referred to in § 1997e(g) appears to be the 2 answer to the complaint. See, e.g., Driver v. Hedrick, 528 F. App’x 709, 710 (9th Cir. 2013) 3 (memorandum opinion); Treglia v. Kernan, No. 12-2522-LHK, 2013 WL 1502157, at *2 (N.D. 4 Cal. Apr. 11, 2013). If a defendant may waive the right of reply, he would not be in default for 5 not filing one. Moreover, despite his protestations to the contrary, plaintiff has suffered no real 6 prejudice from defendants’ failure to file a responsive pleading. See Treglia, 2013 WL 1502157, 7 at *2. 8 However, section 1997e(g)(2) provides that the court “may require any defendant to reply 9 to a complaint brought under this section if it finds that the plaintiff has a reasonable opportunity 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 to prevail on the merits.” At this stage, Mr. Garcia does have such an opportunity, and jury trial is set to commence June 19, 2017. The court therefore requires defendants to file an answer so that this case will be at issue and ready for trial, and so that plaintiff will have official notice of any affirmative defenses.2 The remaining defendants must file and serve an answer to the second amended complaint (i.e., Dkt. No. 27), no later than June 7, 2017. This order resolves Dkt. No. 221. IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: May 31, 2017 ______________________________________ SUSAN ILLSTON United States District Judge 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 2 This order does not resolve plaintiff’s motion in limine number 3, Dkt. No. 225, regarding defendants’ affirmative defenses. The Court will decide in limine motions at another time. 2

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