Nautilus Insurance Company v. The EJIII Development Company et al
OPINION AND ORDER granting Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Answer to Complaint and to Enter Default 27 and directing the Clerk to enter default against EJIII. It is further ordered that EJIII shall, on or before October 18, 2017, obtain legal counsel, counsel shall file a notice of appearance by October 18, 2017, and EJIIIs legal counsel shall, on or before October 18, 2017, file an Amended Answer on behalf of EJIII. Signed by Judge William S. Duffey, Jr on 10/5/17. (ddm)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
THE EJIII DEVELOPMENT
COMPANY f/k/a THE JACKSON
GROWTH & DEVELOPMENT
HORNE, as natural mother and next
of friend of K.M. and G.M.,
SHAKIERRA CORBIN, as natural
mother and next friend of A.M., JR.
and A.M., MEKOIA GASTON, as
natural mother and next of friend of
J.S., GLADYS MOSLEY, as
Administratrix of the Estate of
Adrian Mosley, deceased, WAFFLE
HOUSE, INC., and QUINTAVIUS
OPINION AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on Nautilus Insurance Company’s
(“Plaintiff”) Motion to Strike Answer to Complaint and to Enter Default  (the
On June 5, 2017, Plaintiff filed its Complaint  against the EJIII
Development Company f/k/a the Jackson Growth & Development Company
(“EJIII”), Shahnquala Horne, as natural mother and next of friend of K.M. and
G.M., Shakierra Corbin, as natural mother and next friend of A.M., JR. and A.M.,
Mekoia Gaston, as natural mother and next of friend of J.S., Gladys Mosley, as
Administratrix of the Estate of Adrian Mosley, deceased, Waffle House, Inc., and
Quintavius Martin (collectively, the “Defendants”). Plaintiff, an Arizona insurance
company, seeks a declaration of its coverage obligations, if any, owed under an
insurance policy for claims asserted in an underlying lawsuit styled Shahnquala
Horne, et al. v. Waffle House, Inc., et al., 16-EV-001921, in the State Court of
Fulton County, Georgia. The underlying action involved an incident at the Waffle
House on June 13, 2014 in which, following an altercation between patrons and
employees, a Waffle House employee allegedly shot and killed a patron. ( at ¶¶
15-16). A security guard employed by EJIII was on duty at the time. (Id. at ¶ 17).
The plaintiffs in the underlying action, administratrix of the patron’s estate and the
mothers of the patron’s children, assert claims against EJIII for negligent failure to
provide and maintain a safe premises and wrongful death. (Id. at ¶¶ 18, 21).
On June 30, 2017, EJIII was served through it registered agent, Ernest
Jackson (“Jackson”). (). As of the date of this Order, no attorney has entered
an appearance on behalf of EJIII. On August 3, 2017, EJIII’s registered agent filed
an answer  (the “Answer”) on behalf of EJIII. On August 21, 2017, Plaintiff
filed the Motion asking the Court to strike EJIII’s Answer because it was
proceeding as a corporation pro se.
Generally, parties are able to represent themselves pro se. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1654. “The right to appear pro se, however, is limited to those parties
conducting ‘their own cases’ and does not apply to persons representing the
interests of others.” Franklin v. Garden State Life Ins., 462 F. App’x 928, 930
(11th Cir. 2012); see also Simon v. Hartford Life, Inc., 546 F.3d 661, 664
(9th Cir. 2008) (“[T]he privilege to represent oneself pro se provided by § 1654 is
personal to the litigant and does not extend to other parties or entities.”).
Section 1654 does not apply to corporations or other artificial entities,
including limited liability companies and trusts. See, e.g., Rowland v. California
Men’s Colony Unit II Men’s Advisory Council, 506 U.S. 194, 201-02 (1993);
Palazzo v. Gulf Oil Corp., 764 F.2d 1381, 1385 (11th Cir. 1985) (“The rule is
well-established that a corporation is an artificial entity that can only act through
agents, cannot appear in judicial cases pro se, and must be represented by
counsel.”) (citations omitted); Harrison v. Wahatoyas, L.L.C., 253 F.3d 552, 556
(10th Cir. 2001) (“A corporation or other business entity can only appear in court
through an attorney and not through a non-attorney corporate officer appearing pro
se.”); Knoefler v. United Bank of Bismarck, 20 F.3d 347, 348 (8th Cir. 1994) (“A
nonlawyer . . . has no right to represent another entity, i.e., a trust, in a court.”).
This Court’s Local Rules reflect the longstanding principle that “a corporation may
only be represented in court by an attorney . . . and that a corporate officer may not
represent the corporation in court unless that officer is also an attorney licensed to
practice law in the State of Georgia.” LR 83.1(E)(2)(b)(I), NDGa.
In reviewing the docket in this case and the Motion, it is evident that EJIII is
not represented by counsel. Jackson, who is not an attorney and not licensed to
practice law in this Court, filed the Answer on behalf of EJIII. (). Because
Jackson is not an attorney and is not licensed to practice law in this Court, he
cannot represent EJIII, see Franklin, 462 F. App’x at 930; Rowland, 506 U.S. at
201-02; Palazzo, 764 F.2d at 1385; LR 83.1(E)(2)(b)(I), NDGa.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Motion to Strike Answer to
Complaint and to Enter Default  is GRANTED. The Clerk is directed to enter
default against EJIII.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that EJIII shall, on or before
October 18, 2017, obtain legal counsel, counsel shall file a notice of appearance by
October 18, 2017, and EJIII’s legal counsel shall, on or before October 18, 2017,
file an Amended Answer on behalf of EJIII.1
SO ORDERED this 5th day of October, 2017.
Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that “[a] party
may amend its pleading once as a matter of course within: (A) 21 days after
serving it, or (B) if the pleading is one to which a responsive pleading is required,
21 after days after service of a responsive pleading or 21 days after service of a
motion under Rule 12(b), (e), or (f), whichever is earlier.” Fed. R. Civ. P. (a)(1).
“In all other cases, a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party’s
written consent or the court’s leave. The court should freely give leave when
justice so requires.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2). The Court holds permitting EJIII to
file an Amended Answer will not cause undue delay, will not prejudice Plaintiff,
and will not be futile.
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