In re: In the Matter of Honey Island Adventure, L.L.C.
ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Neil Benson d/b/a Pearl River Eco Tours, as Owner and Operator of the M/V SASQUATCH's ("Pearl River") 14 Motion to Set Aside Default Judgment is GRANTED to the extent that default judgment is set aside as to Pearl River's "Additional Claim and Answer to Petition and First Amended Petition for Exoneration from, or Alternatively, Limitation of Liability. Signed by Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown on 2/17/2017. (Reference: All Cases)(mmv)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION OF HONEY
ISLAND ADVENTURE, L.L.C.
Before the Court is Neil Benson d/b/a Pearl River Eco Tours, as Owner and Operator of
the M/V SASQUATCH’s (“Pearl River”) “Motion to Set Aside Default Judgment.” 1 Having
considered the motion, the memoranda in support and in opposition, and the applicable law, the
Court will grant the motion.
On May 24, 2016, Honey Island Adventure, LLC, as owner and operator of M/V GATOR
BAIT IV (“Honey Island”), filed a Petition for Exoneration From, or Alternatively, Limitation of
Liability in connection with all claims, damages, injuries, or losses of any kind caused, occasioned
or arising out of the voyage of the M/V GATOR BAIT IV on March 6, 2016.2 On June 1, 2016,
this Court ordered that notice be issued requiring all persons asserting claims with respect to which
the Complaint seeks exoneration or limitation to file their respective claims with the Clerk of Court
on or before July 15, 2016.3 In response, Pearl River filed two claims with the Clerk of Court. It
Rec. Doc. 14.
Rec. Doc. 1 at 2.
Rec. Doc. 5.
filed its first claim with the Clerk of Court on July 14, 2016,4 and filed its second claim on July
15, 2016.5 On July 18, 2016, the Clerk’s Office marked Pearl River’s second claim as “deficient”
and indicated that “another attorney represents this party.”6 The Clerk’s Office instructed Pearl
River to re-file the document by July 25, 2016.7 Pearl River timely re-filed the claim on July 22,
2016.8 On July 22, 2016, Honey Island filed an ex parte motion for default judgment as to any and
all parties who had not filed a claim in the proceedings.9
On August 2, 2016, the Court granted Honey Island’s motion and ordered that all other
persons or entities, other than Pearl River and eight other claimants, were barred from entering a
claim against Honey Island arising out of the incident on March 6, 2016.10 In its Order, the Court
listed the claimants who had filed claims in response to Honey Island’s petition and cited to the
first claim filed by Pearl River.11 However, in its Order, the Court did not cite to Pearl River’s
second claim. 12 Pearl River filed the instant motion on August 23, 2016, to set aside default
judgment as to its second claim, which was filed on July 15, 2016, marked as deficient by the
Rec. Doc. 6.
Rec. Doc. 9.
Id. (citing Rec. Doc. 6).
Rec. Doc. 11.
Rec. Doc. 12 at 3.
Id. at 3 n.6.
Clerk’s Office on July 18, 2016, and re-filed on July 22, 2016.13 Honey Island filed an opposition
to the motion on September 8, 2016,14 arguing that the claim was not timely filed and that Pearl
River had not addressed the deficiency indicated by the Clerk of Court.15
Pursuant to the “Unique Procedures and Practices for Electronic Filing,” which were
established by the Eastern District of Louisiana and are part of the procedures mandated in Local
Rule 5.7,16 the Clerk’s Office will notify all parties that a filed document is deemed deficient by
way of a “Notice of Deficient Document.”17 Thereafter, “[a] deficient document must be corrected
and re-filed in its entirety within seven (7) calendar days; otherwise, it may be stricken by the
Court without further notice.”18 Here, Pearl River timely re-filed its claim after receiving notice
of its deficient document from the Clerk’s Office, and the Clerk’s Office indicated that the
deficiency had been resolved by terminating the deficient filing deadline.19 Pearl River’s claim
was therefore timely filed by the deadline set forth in the Court’s June 1, 2016, Order.20
Rec. Doc. 14-1 at 2.
Rec. Doc. 23.
Id. at 2–3.
See Darouiche v. Fidelity Nat. Ins. Co., 415 Fed. App’x 548, 552 n.8 (5th Cir. 2011).
See “Administrative Procedures for Electronic Case Filings and Unique Procedures and Practices for
Electronic Filings,” at 9, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana (Mar. 2015).
See Rec. Doc. 10.
See Buchanan v. Circle K Stores, Inc., No. 14-2690, 2016 WL 1437144, at *2 n.18 (E.D. La. Apr. 12,
2016) (Brown, J.) (finding timely a plaintiff’s motion that was filed by the applicable deadline, marked as deficient
by the Clerk of Court, and then timely re-filed within seven days). See also, e.g., Hartzog v. Cayo, LLC, No. 122895, 2013 WL 2456377, at *2 (E.D. La. June 5, 2013) (Wilkinson, Mag.) (finding that filing date for timeliness
purposes was earlier “deficient” filing date, where party filed deficient motion before applicable deadline and timely
corrected the deficiency) (citing Darouiche v. Fidelity Nat. Ins. Co., 415 Fed. App’x 548, 552 (5th Cir. 2011)).
The Court notes that in its August 2, 2016, Order granting Honey Island’s motion for
default judgment, it did in fact list Pearl River as one of the parties exempted from the default
judgment.21 However, the Court inadvertently did not cite to Pearl River’s second claim in the list
of claims that had been timely filed.22 A district court may set aside a default judgment for good
cause shown.23 Because Pearl River’s second claim was timely filed, the Court finds that good
cause exists to set aside the default judgment as to Pearl River’s second claim. Accordingly, the
Court will grant Pearl River’s motion and hereby amends its prior Order of August 2, 2016,24 to
include Pearl River’s second claim.
Based on the foregoing,
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Neil Benson d/b/a Pearl River Eco Tours, as Owner and
Operator of the M/V SASQUATCH’s (“Pearl River”) “Motion to Set Aside Default Judgment”25
is GRANTED to the extent that default judgment is set aside as to Pearl River’s “Additional Claim
Rec. Doc. 12 at 3.
The Court also notes that Pearl River’s second claim was filed into the record before Honey Island filed
its ex parte motion for default judgment. However, Honey Island failed to include Pearl River’s second claim in its
list of the claims that had been filed in connection with the incident of March 6, 2006, or to notify the Court of the
existence of Pearl River’s second claim. See Rec. Doc. 11 at 1–2.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(c) (A district court may set aside a default judgment for “good cause” under Fed.
R. Civ. P. 60(b)); Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b) (A district court may relieve a party from a final judgment or order for,
among other reasons, “mistake” or “any other reason that justifies relief.”). See also Drinnon v. Allstate Ins. Co., 88
Fed. App’x 9, 10 (5th Cir. 2004) (holding that a district court may consider factors other than those listed in Fed. R.
Civ. Pro. 60(b) in determining whether to set aside a default judgment and that the decision to set aside a default
judgment falls within the district court’s “sound discretion”) (internal citations omitted); U.S. v. One 1978 Piper
Navajo PA-31 Aircraft, 748 F.2d 316, 318 (5th Cir. 1984) (reviewing district court’s ruling on motion to set aside
default judgment in a maritime action for abuse of discretion).
Rec. Doc. 12.
Rec. Doc. 14.
and Answer to Petition and First Amended Petition for Exoneration from, or Alternatively,
Limitation of Liability.”26
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA, this 17th day of February, 2017.
NANNETTE JOLIVETTE BROWN
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Rec. Doc. 10.
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