Princeton Developments, LLC v. Baylor et al

Filing 121

ORDER by Judge Claudia Wilken GRANTING DEFENDANT MIA BALDASSARIS 111 MOTION TO SET ASIDE DEFAULT. (Attachments: # 1 Certificate/Proof of Service) (ndr, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 1/16/2013)

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1 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 2 FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 3 4 PRINCETON DEVELOPMENTS, LLC, 5 6 7 8 9 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 11 12 13 No. C 11-4471 CW Plaintiff, ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT MIA BALDASSARI’S MOTION TO SET ASIDE DEFAULT (Docket No. 111) v. BRYNEE K. BAYLOR; BAYLOR & JACKSON, PLLC; THE MILAN GROUP, INC.; FRANK LORENZO; GPH HOLDINGS, LLC; PATRICK LEWIS; BRETT A. COOPER; DAWN R. JACKSON; SUSAN C. KEVRA; MIA C. BALDASSARI; ELMO BALDASSARI; GLOBAL FUNDING SYSTEMS; and THE LAW OFFICES OF SUSAN C. KEVRA, Defendants. ________________________________/ Pro se Defendant Mia Baldassari moves to set aside the 14 default entered against her on October 3, 2012. Plaintiff Princeton Developments, LLC opposes the motion. The Court takes 15 16 the motion under submission on the papers and GRANTS it. 17 BACKGROUND 18 On August 24, 2012, Baldassari was served with the summons 19 and complaint in the instant case. Docket No. 97. 20 On September 5, 2012, Baldassari mailed an answer to the 21 complaint in the instant case, along with an answer to the 22 complaint in a related case, Kuman Banque, LLC v. Baylor, Case No. 23 11-4472, to the Clerk of the Court for filing. Mot. to Set Aside 24 Default,1 Docket No. 111, ¶ 3; Baldassari Reply Decl., Ex. 1 25 26 27 28 1 Baldassari has attested to the truthfulness of the statements made in her motion under penalty of perjury. Mot. to Set Aside Default, 3. 1 (domestic return receipt from USPS, showing that delivery was made 2 on September 10, 2012).2 3 a copy of both answers to Plaintiff’s attorney on September 7, 4 2012. 5 Baldassari’s answer in the Kuman Banque case was received by the 6 Court and filed on September 10, 2012. 7 11-4472. 8 case. 9 Baldassari also attests that she emailed Mot. to Set Aside Default ¶ 4; Baldassari Reply Decl. ¶ 5. Docket No. 78 in Case No. However, no answer was received or filed in the instant Baldassari further states that she received a copy of United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 Plaintiff’s motion for entry of default against her on October 4, 11 2012, three days after it was filed and the day after it was 12 granted. 13 ¶ 6; see also Docket Nos. 98, 99. 14 emailed Plaintiff’s counsel a copy of her answer in the instant 15 case. 16 Ex. 2. 17 Mot. to Set Aside Default ¶ 5; Baldassari Reply Decl. On October 8, 2012, she again Mot. to Set Aside Default ¶ 6; Baldassari Reply Decl. ¶ 7 & On October 15, 2012, Baldassari filed a motion to appear by 18 telephone at the case management conferences scheduled for October 19 31, 2012 in both the instant action and the Kuman Banque case. 20 Docket No. 100. 21 On October 29, 2012, the Court continued the case management 22 conferences until January 23, 2013. 23 time, the Court informed Baldassari that she was in default in 24 this action and that, if she wished to defend the claims asserted Docket No. 108. At that 25 26 27 28 2 Plaintiff has Baldassari submitted 7-3(d)(1) (providing filed and served not reply). not objected to the new evidence that with her reply. See Civil Local Rule that any objections to reply evidence must be more than seven days after the filing of the 2 1 against her in that case, she had to make a motion to set aside 2 the entry of default and show good cause to do so under Federal 3 Rule of Civil Procedure 55(c). 4 proposed answer to any such motion. 5 The Court directed her to attach a On November 1, 2012, Baldassari learned that default had been entered against her and shortly thereafter contacted the Court’s 7 courtroom deputy, who advised her that the Court had received her 8 answer in the Kuman Banque action and not in the instant case. 9 Mot. to Set Aside Default ¶¶ 8-9; Baldassari Reply Decl. ¶ 9-10. 10 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 6 On November 9, 2012, Baldassari filed the instant motion to 11 set aside the default and simultaneously filed her proposed 12 answer. Docket Nos. 111 and 112. 13 14 DISCUSSION Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(c) provides that a court 15 “may set aside an entry of default for good cause.” 16 court has discretion to determine whether a party demonstrates 17 “good cause.” 18 court’s discretion is particularly broad where a party seeks to 19 set aside an entry of default rather than a default judgment. 20 Mendoza v. Wight Vineyard Mgmt., 783 F.2d 941, 945 (9th Cir. 21 1986). 22 The district Madsen v. Bumb, 419 F.2d 4, 6 (9th Cir. 1969). The In evaluating whether a party has demonstrated good cause, a 23 district court may consider the following factors: (1) whether the 24 defendant’s culpable conduct led to the default; (2) whether the 25 defendant has a meritorious defense; and (3) whether setting aside 26 the default would prejudice the plaintiff. 27 Plan v. Knoebber, 244 F.3d 691, 696 (9th Cir. 2001). 28 judgments are “ordinarily disfavored” because “[c]ases should be 3 TCI Group Life Ins. Default 1 decided upon their merits whenever reasonably possible.” 2 McCool, 782 F.2d 1470, 1472 (9th Cir. 1986). 3 “timely relief is sought . . . and the movant has a meritorious 4 defense,” a court must resolve any doubt in favor of setting aside 5 the default. 6 vacate the entry of default bears the burden of demonstrating that 7 these factors favor doing so. 8 9 Mendoza, 783 F.2d at 945-46. Eitel v. Thus, whenever The party seeking to TCI, 244 F.3d at 696. Baldassari has demonstrated that she acted diligently in attempting to answer the complaint in the instant case. Plaintiff United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 argues that she did not demonstrate good cause because “the clerk 11 has explained that the only answer received was in response to the 12 Kuman complaint.” 13 that she did mail the answer to the Court along with her answer in 14 the related case but that it did not arrive for an unknown reason. 15 Opp. at 2. However, Baldassari has attested In addition, there is no evidence that setting aside 16 Baldassari’s default would prejudice Plaintiff, and Baldassari has 17 offered a potentially meritorious defense to Plaintiff’s claims 18 against her. 19 (1AC) that Defendant The Milan Group, Inc. is the alter ego of 20 Baldassari, that, from August 2010 to August 2011, she conspired 21 with other Defendants to defraud Plaintiff of $325,000 and that 22 she received part of the money of which Plaintiff was defrauded. 23 In her proposed answer, Baldassari denies Plaintiff’s allegations 24 and states that she had no involvement with the Milan Group after 25 December 2009, that she was not involved with, and had no 26 knowledge of, the alleged scheme or the purported conspirators, 27 and that she did not receive any money from it. Plaintiff alleges in the first amended complaint 28 4 1 Plaintiff contends that the motion should be denied nonetheless because Baldassari “has not followed the motion 3 procedure required by Local Rule 7-2” and did not “provide any 4 notice of motion or any memorandum of points and authorities.” 5 Opp. at 1-2. 6 in support of her argument, in her motion Baldassari set forth a 7 statement of the relevant facts and provided sufficient grounds 8 for the relief requested. 9 notice the motion for hearing, the Clerk scheduled a hearing date 10 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 2 for the motion in accordance with the Court’s prior order setting 11 a date. 12 exercises its discretion to excuse Baldassari’s failure to comply 13 with the local rules. 14 Guaranty Co., 342 F.2d 951, 954 (9th Cir. 1965); Phoenix Global 15 Ventures, LLC v. Phoenix Hotel Assocs., Ltd., 422 F.3d 72, 76 (2d 16 Cir. 2005); Nvidia Corp. v. United States Bankr. Court, 2006 U.S. 17 Dist. LEXIS 94417, at *13-14 (N.D. Cal.).3 However, although she did not cite legal authorities See Docket Nos. 108, 115. 18 19 Further, although Baldassari failed to In this instance, the Court See Allen v. United States Fidelity & CONCLUSION For the reasons set forth above, the Court GRANTS 20 Baldassari’s motion to set aside the default entered against her 21 (Docket No. 111). The Clerk of the Court is directed to set aside 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3 Although the Court excuses the violation of the Civil Local Rules in this instance, the pro se parties in this action are reminded that they are required to follow the Federal Rules and all applicable local rules. See Civil Local Rule 3-9(a). The Court has several resources to provide information for individuals who are representing themselves in civil cases in this district, which can be accessed at These resources include a handbook for pro se litigants, which can be downloaded at 5 1 the default of Baldassari. 2 proposed answer as of the date of this Order (Docket No. 112). 3 4 5 The Court deems filed Baldassari’s The Court maintains the case management conference currently set for Wednesday, January 23, 2013, at 2:00 p.m. IT IS SO ORDERED. 6 7 8 Dated: 1/16/2013 CLAUDIA WILKEN United States District Judge 9 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 6

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