Jane Doe v. City of Miami, Florida et al
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO SET ASIDE CLERKS DEFAULT. Accordingly, the Court grants the City's motion to set aside the clerk's default. (Mot., ECF No. #20 ) The City must separately refile its proposed motion to dismiss by November 16, 2023. Finally, the Plaintiff's related, unopposed motion to stay the time for her to file the response required by the Court's order on default judgment procedure is denied as moot. (ECF No. #21 ) Signed by Senior District Judge Robert N Scola, Jr on 11/14/2023. See attached document for full details. (nan)
United States District Court
Southern District of Florida
Jane Doe, Plaintiff,
City of Miami, Florida, a municipal
corporation, Johanna Garcia,
individually, Shrieff Swan,
individually, and Ruben Gonzalez,
) Civil Action No. 23-23712-Civ-Scola
Order Granting Motion to Set Aside Clerk’s Default
This cause is before the Court on the City of Miami’s (the “City”) motion
to set aside clerk’s default. (Mot., ECF No. 20.) The City’s Local Rule 7.1(a)(3)
certification explains that the Plaintiff does not have a position on the motion
and leaves it to the Court’s discretion. After considering the City’s motion, the
record, and the relevant legal authorities, the Court finds good cause to grant
the City’s motion. (Mot., ECF No. 20.)
The Plaintiff filed her complaint on September 28, 2023, and the City
was served on October 4, 2023. (ECF Nos. 1, 9.) Therefore, the City’s answer
was due on or before October 25, 2023. On November 1, 2023, the Plaintiff
moved for a clerk’s entry of default as to the City, the clerk entered a default,
and the next day, the Plaintiff moved for default judgment and the Court issued
an order on default judgment procedure. (ECF Nos. 13, 14, 15 16.) The Court’s
order specified that “[i]f the Defendants fail to move to set aside the Clerk’s
Default, or fail to otherwise respond to this lawsuit, on or before November 13,
2023, Default Final Judgment may be entered.” (ECF No. 16 (emphasis in
On November 10, 2023, the City filed its motion to set aside the clerk’s
default. (Mot., ECF No. 20.) In its motion, the City’s counsel explains that the
matter was assigned to him on October 6, 2023, but that his assistant was
inadvertently left out of the assignment email, and, as a result, the deadline for
the City to respond was not calendared. (Id. ¶ 3.) In addition, the City’s counsel
explains that during that period, he was presented with serious personal
difficulties involving an immediate family member, as well as other professional
responsibilities, which prevented him from noticing that the deadline to
respond to the Plaintiff’s complaint had not been calendared. (Id. ¶¶ 4–6.) The
City also argues compellingly that setting aside the clerk’s default would not
prejudice the Plaintiff, as, among other reasons, she has yet to serve the other
Defendants in this case.
“It is the general rule that default judgments are ordinarily disfavored
because cases should be decided upon their merits whenever reasonably
possible.” Creative Tile Marketing, Inc. v. SICIS Intern., 922 F. Supp. 1534, 1536
(S.D. Fla. 1996) (Moore, J.). A court may set aside a clerk’s default for good
cause shown. Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(c); see also Compania Interamericana ExportImport, S.A. v. Compania Dominicana de Aviacion, 88 F.3d 948, 951 (11th Cir.
1996). “‘Good cause’ is a mutable standard, varying from situation to situation.
It is also a liberal one—but not so elastic as to be devoid of substance.”
Compania Interamericana Export-Import, S.A., 88 F.3d at 951. To determine
whether good cause exists, the Court considers (1) whether the default was
culpable or willful; (2) whether setting it aside would prejudice the adversary;
and (3) whether the defaulting party presents a meritorious defense. Id.
The City has demonstrated to the Court’s satisfaction that its failure to
respond to the complaint was not culpable or willful. Furthermore, setting
aside the default will not prejudice the Plaintiff, as she will still be able to
pursue her claims. The City also indicates in its motion that it has meritorious
defenses to the Plaintiff’s claims, attaching a proposed motion to dismiss to its
motion to set aside.
Accordingly, the Court grants the City’s motion to set aside the clerk’s
default. (Mot., ECF No. 20.) The City must separately refile its proposed
motion to dismiss by November 16, 2023.
Finally, the Plaintiff’s related, unopposed motion to stay the time for her
to file the response required by the Court’s order on default judgment
procedure is denied as moot. (ECF No. 21.)
Done and ordered in Miami, Florida, on November 14, 2023.
Robert N. Scola, Jr.
United States District Judge
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