Walker v. Lamb et al
ORDER denying 84 Motion for Default Judgment and granting 91 Motion to Set Aside Default. Defendant Dean shall file his responsive pleading within 7 days of the date of this Order. Signed by Judge Staci M. Yandle on 2/17/2021. (ksp)
Case 3:19-cv-00618-SMY Document 93 Filed 02/17/21 Page 1 of 2 Page ID #551
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
JAMES E. WALKER,
NICK LAMB, et al.,
Case No. 3:19-cv-00618-SMY
YANDLE, District Judge:
This matter is before the Court on Defendant Dean’s Amended Motion to Set Aside Clerk’s
Entry of Default and for Leave to File an Answer (Doc. 91) and Plaintiff’s Motion for Default
Judgment (Doc. 84).
Upon the screening of Plaintiff’s Second Amended Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915A (Doc. 52), Defendant Dean was sent a request for Waiver of Service of Summons. (Docs.
58, 60). Dean returned an executed Waiver of Service of Summons and his responsive pleading
was due by October 26, 2020. (Doc. 65). Dean failed to move, answer, or otherwise plead in
response to the Second Amended Complaint, and as result, on December 2, 2020, the Court issued
an Order directing the Clerk to Enter Default against Dean in accordance with Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 55(a). (Doc. 82). The Clerk’s Entry of Default was docketed on December 3,
2020. (Doc. 83). Plaintiff filed a Motion for Default Judgment on December 9, 2020. (Doc. 84).
Dean filed a motion seeking to vacate the Clerk’s Entry of Default on December 18, 2020.
(Doc. 88). The motion was denied because Dean failed to identify or demonstrate a meritorious
defense to Plaintiff's claim to justify setting aside the default. (Doc. 89). Dean was granted leave
to refile his motion on or before January 21, 2021 and he did so on January 21, 2021. (Doc. 91).
Case 3:19-cv-00618-SMY Document 93 Filed 02/17/21 Page 2 of 2 Page ID #552
“A party seeking to vacate an entry of default prior to the entry of judgment must show:
(1) good cause for the default; (2) quick action to correct it; and (3) a meritorious defense to the
complaint.” Cracco v. Vitran Express, Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 630–31 (7th Cir.2009) (citations
omitted); Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(c). Dean, who no longer works for the Illinois Department of
Corrections (“IDOC”), asserts that after returning the waiver of service of summons to the Court,
he was under the mistaken belief that he would automatically be assigned representation through
IDOC. The Court doesn’t consider Dean’s failure to secure representation when he knew he had
been personally sued as inadvertent or a mistake – it was irresponsible at best. That said, once he
received notice of the default, he acted quickly to correct it. Additionally, Dean has sufficiently
established that he has a meritorious defense to Plaintiff’s claims. (Doc. 91, pp. 3-4).
Accordingly, based on this Court’s preference for adjudication on the merits, Defendant
Dean’s motion is GRANTED and the Clerk’s Entry of Default is VACATED. Defendant Dean
shall file his responsive pleading within 7 days of the date of this Order. Because the Clerk’s Entry
of Default has been vacated, Plaintiff’s Motion for Default Judgment (Doc. 84) is DENIED.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED: February 17, 2021
s/ Staci M. Yandle_________
STACI M. YANDLE
United States District Judge
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