Neal v. DeKalb County, Georgia et al
OPINION AND ORDER. Plaintiff Jason Neal's Motion for Clerks' Entry of Default 8 is DENIED. Signed by Judge William S. Duffey, Jr on 9/22/2016. (bgt)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
DEKALB COUNTY, GEORGIA,
OFFICER C.A. INGS, (Badge
#2932) in their individual and official
capacities, OFFICER M.T. HAMER,
(Badge #1748), in their individual
and official capacities, and JOHN
DOE 1-2, in their individual and
OPINION AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Jason Neal’s (“Plaintiff”) Motion
for Clerks’ Entry of Default  (“Motion”).
On December 4, 2015, Plaintiff filed his Complaint in the Superior Court of
DeKalb County, Georgia. On December 21, 2015, Plaintiff served the Complaint
on Defendants DeKalb County, Georgia (“DeKalb County”), Officer C.A. Ings,
and Officer M.T. Hamer’s (together with Officer C.A. Ings, the “Officer
Defendants”) (collectively, “Defendants”) . On January 20, 2016, Defendants
removed the action to this Court.
On June 27, 2016, the Court issued its order  granting in part and denying
in part Defendants’ motion to dismiss. The Court dismissed DeKalb County,
Georgia, as a defendant in this action.
On August 2, 2016, Plaintiff filed his Motion. Plaintiff notes that, pursuant
to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(a)(4)(A), the Officer Defendants were required to file a
responsive pleading within fourteen (14) days after notice of the Court’s denial in
part of its motion to dismiss. Plaintiff contends the Officer Defendants failed to
comply with this requirement, and, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(a), the Clerk
must enter default.
On August 3, 2016, the Officer Defendants filed their Answer to the Notice
of Removal . On August 5, 2016, the Officer Defendants filed their response
in opposition to Plaintiff’s Motion . The Officer Defendants argue that they
have not failed to defend against Plaintiff’s claims, and that entry of default is not
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(a)(4)(A), the Officer Defendants
were required to file a responsive pleading within fourteen (14) days after notice of
the Court’s denial in part of its motion to dismiss. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(a)(4)(A).
On June 27, 2016, the Court denied, in part, Defendants’ motion to dismiss. The
Officer Defendants—the remaining defendants in this action—were required to file
their Answer on or before July 11, 2016. Defendants did not file their Answer
until August 5, 2016.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(a) provides that “[w]hen a party against
whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise
defend, and that failure is shown by affidavit or otherwise, the clerk must enter the
party’s default.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(a). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(c)
provides that “[t]he court may set aside an entry of default for good cause . . . .”
Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(c). Although the Clerk has not yet entered default, the Court
construes the Officer Defendants’ response, which challenges the appropriateness
of such an entry, as similar to a motion to set aside an entry of default already
entered. See Ritts v. Dealers Alliance Credit Corp., 989 F. Supp. 1475, 1479 (N.D.
Ga. 1997) (citing Meehan v. Snow, 652 F.2d 274, 276-77 (2d Cir. 1981)).
An entry of default may be set aside for “good cause.” Compania
Interamericana Export-Import, S.A. v. Compania Dominicana de Aviacion, 88
F.3d 948, 951 (11th Cir. 1996). “Good cause is not susceptible to a precise
formula,” and courts consider whether (1) the default was willful, (2) setting aside
the default would prejudice the other party, (3) the defaulting party presents a
meritorious defense, and (4) whether the defaulting party acted promptly to correct
the default. Id.
Here, there is no indication that the Officer Defendants’ default was willful.
They state that the delay in filing the Answer was an inadvertent error in the part of
their counsel. ( at 4). Though their Answer was filed nearly one month after it
was due, the Officer Defendants acted promptly to correct the default, filing their
Answer the day after Plaintiff filed his Motion. Plaintiff does not show he was
prejudiced by the delay, and he does not show that he would be prejudiced if
default is not entered. Considering the circumstances and the fact that a default
judgment “is a drastic remedy which should be used only in extreme situations,”
Wahl v. McIver, 773 F.2d 1169, 1174 (11th Cir. 1985), the Court concludes that,
even if Plaintiff would be entitled to default based on the Officer Defendants’
delay in filing their Answer, the Officer Defendants have shown good cause for
setting aside any default. See Murphy v. Farmer, ––– F. Supp. 3d –––, 2016 WL
1425060, at *10 (N.D. Ga. Mar. 31, 2016). Plaintiff’s Motion is therefore denied.
For the foregoing reasons,
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff Jason Neal’s Motion for Clerks’
Entry of Default  is DENIED.
SO ORDERED this 22nd day of September, 2016.
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?