ELDER v. THOMPSON
ORDER denying 28 Motion for Default Judgment - SEE ORDER. Copy to Plaintiff via US Mail. Signed by Judge James Patrick Hanlon on 2/18/2021. (AAS)
Case 2:20-cv-00273-JPH-DLP Document 36 Filed 02/18/21 Page 1 of 2 PageID #: 152
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
TERRE HAUTE DIVISION
LLOYD T. ELDER, SR.,
THOMPSON, et al.
Order Denying Motion for Default Judgment
Plaintiff Lloyd Elder moves for default judgment against the defendants.
The Court screened Mr. Elder's complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1915A on August 28,
2020. Dkt. 13. The defendants waived service and counsel appeared on their behalf on September
16, 2020. Dkt. 14, 15, 16, 17, 18. But counsel did not file an answer within sixty days of the date
the Notice of Lawsuit and Request to Waive Service of a Summons was sent, which was October
27, 2020. The defendants did file a response to Mr. Elder's motion for Court to intervene with
discovery. Dkt. 21. The defendants were then directed to file an Answer and have since done so.
Mr. Elder seeks default judgment. Rule 55(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
requires entry of default ''[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." Fed.
R. Civ. P. 55(a). But a party that is in default may obtain relief from entry of a default before entry
of judgment under Rule 55(c) which provides that "[t]he court may set aside an entry of default
Case 2:20-cv-00273-JPH-DLP Document 36 Filed 02/18/21 Page 2 of 2 PageID #: 153
for good cause." A defendant seeking to have a default set aside must show: (1) good cause, (2)
quick action to correct the default, and (3) a meritorious defense to the complaint. Cracco v. Vitran
Exp., Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 630-31 (7th Cir. 2009). The Seventh Circuit's policy favors "trial on the
merits over default judgment." Id. (citing Sun v. Bd. of Trs. Of the Univ. of Ill., 473 F.3d 799, 810
(7th Cir. 2007)).
First, the defendants have shown good cause for their failure to timely answer. They did
not willfully ignore the lawsuit but explain that their failure to timely file an answer was the result
of mistake. Because the plaintiff had filed several lawsuits, the defendants believed they had filed
an Answer on time. Dkt. 35. Next, they took quick action to correct the delay, filing their answer
on December 4, 2020. Finally, they have a potentially meritorious defense – that the plaintiff failed
to exhaust his available administrative remedies and that they are entitled to qualified immunity.
The defendants are therefore entitled not to have default entered against them.
For the foregoing reasons, the motion for default judgment, dkt. , is denied.
LLOYD T. ELDER, SR.
KNOX COUNTY LAW ENFORCEMENT CENTER
2375 South Old Decker Road
Vincennes, IN 47591
All Electronically Registered Counsel
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