Lewis v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, National Assoc. et al
ORDER denying 55 Motion for Default Judgment Pursuant to Rule 55(b) by Judge Philip A. Brimmer on 1/10/14.(dkals, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO
Judge Philip A. Brimmer
Civil Action No. 13-cv-01375-PAB-KLM
SHERRON L. LEWIS, JR.,
JP MORGAN CHASE BANK, NATIONAL ASSOC.,
LARRY CASTLE, in his individual and corporate capacity,
THE CASTLE LAW GROUP, LLC,
This matter is before the Court on plaintiff’s Motion for Default Judgment
Pursuant to Rule 55(b) [Docket No. 55] as to defendant JPMorgan Chase Bank
National Association (“Chase”).
I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Plaintiff filed suit against defendants on May 28, 2013 [Docket No. 1]. Chase
was served on June 7, 2013 [Docket No. 22]. On June 26, 2013, the plaintiff and
Chase filed a joint stipulation granting Chase until July 19, 2013 to respond to the
Complaint. Docket No. 30. On July 17, 2013, Chase filed an unopposed motion for
seven additional days to respond to the Complaint [Docket No. 36], which the
magistrate judge granted [Docket No. 38]. Before July 26, 2013, Chase conferred with
plaintiff regarding an additional extension of time [Docket No. 55 at 4, ¶ 15], an
extension Chase claims was partially in an effort to facilitate settlement negotiations
[Docket No 65 at 3, ¶ 5]. Plaintiff indicated to Chase he would oppose an additional
extension [Docket No. 55 at 4, ¶ 15]. On July 26, 2013, Chase filed a Motion for a
Second Extension of Time [Docket No. 39], asking for an additional three weeks to
respond to the Complaint. On August 16, 2013, Chase filed a motion to dismiss
[Docket No. 60].
In order to obtain a judgment by default, a party must follow the two-step process
described in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55. First, it must seek an entry of default
from the Clerk of the Court under Rule 55(a). Second, after default has been entered
by the Clerk, the party must seek default judgment according to the strictures of Rule
55(b). See Williams v. Smithson, 1995 WL 365988, at *1 (10th Cir. June 20, 1995)
(citing Meehan v. Snow, 652 F.2d 274, 276 (2d Cir. 1981)).
The decision to enter default judgment is “‘committed to the district court’s sound
discretion.’” Olcott v. Del. Flood Co., 327 F.3d 1115, 1124 (10th Cir. 2003) (citation
omitted). In exercising that discretion, the Court considers that “[s]trong policies favor
resolution of disputes on their merits.” Ruplinger v. Rains, 946 F.2d 731, 732 (10th Cir.
1991) (quotation marks and citations omitted). “The default judgment must normally be
viewed as available only when the adversary process has been halted because of an
essentially unresponsive party.” Id. It serves to protect a plaintiff against “interminable
delay and continued uncertainty as to his rights.” Id. at 733. When “ruling on a motion
for default judgment, the court may rely on detailed affidavits or documentary evidence
to determine the appropriate sum for the default judgment.” Seme v. E & H Prof’l Sec.
Co., Inc., No. 08-cv-01569-RPM-KMT, 2010 WL 1553786, at *11 (D. Colo. Mar. 19,
On July 29, 2013, plaintiff filed his Notice and Application for Entry of Default
Against Defendant JPMorgan Chase Bank National Association Pursuant to Rule 55(a).
Docket No. 41; Docket No. 42. On August 5, 2013, the Clerk of the Court declined to
enter default. Docket No. 46. The Clerk explained that the entry of default was denied
because Chase’s Motion for a Second Extension of Time [Docket No. 39] was pending
before the magistrate judge. Docket No. 46.1 Therefore, because plaintiff failed to
obtain an entry of default under Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(a) at step one, he may not obtain a
default judgment at step two.2
For the foregoing reasons, and “[i]n light of the strong preference for the
The Court finds no fault with the Clerk’s decision not to enter default.
Plaintiff expresses frustration that the Clerk did not enter default and argues he
is entitled to a default judgment because Chase’s Motion for a Second Extension of
Time [Docket No. 39] violated the Court’s Practice Standards due to the fact that it was
filed on July 26, 2013 – the day Chase’s response was due and, therefore, three days
later than the Court’s Practice Standards permit the filing of motions for extension of
time. Docket No. 55 at 4, ¶ 16; see Practice Standards (Civil cases), Judge Philip A.
Brimmer § I.G.2 (“Any motion for extension of time shall be filed no later than three
business days before the date the motion, response, reply, or other paper is due.”).
Chase claims that delay in filing its Motion for a Second Extension of Time was, in part,
a result of attempting to confer with plaintiff and discuss settlement. Docket No. 65 at
3, ¶ 5-6. Chase’s violation, even if un-excused, is at an early stage of the litigation and
does not constitute an “interminable delay” from which the Court must protect the
plaintiff. See Ruplinger, 946 F.2d at 733. Furthermore, the adversary process has
been robust. See Id. at 732. Chase filed a Motion to Dismiss on August 16, 2013
[Docket No. 60] as well as a Response in Opposition to Plaintiff’s Petition for
Preliminary Injunction [Docket No. 48]. Accordingly, the Court finds no basis for the
entry of default judgment at this time.
disposition of litigation on the merits,” the court will not enter default judgment. Gulley
v. Orr, 905 F.2d 1383, 1386 (10th Cir. 1990). Therefore, it is
ORDERED that plaintiff’s Motion for Default Judgment Pursuant to Rule 55(b)
[Docket No. 55] is DENIED.
DATED January 10, 2014.
BY THE COURT:
s/Philip A. Brimmer
PHILIP A. BRIMMER
United States District Judge
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