Bryan v. Lark Hotels, LLC
Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton: ENDORSED ORDER entered. MEMORANDUM AND ORDER"For the foregoing reasons, defendants motion to set aside the default (Docket No. 10) is ALLOWED and plaintiffs motion for entry of default judgment (Docket No. 17) is DENIED. So ordered."(Caruso, Stephanie)
United States District Court
District of Massachusetts
LARK HOTELS, LLC,
Civil Action No.
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
This case arises from a personal injury that plaintiff Dawn
Bryan (“plaintiff” or “Bryan”) allegedly suffered after a fall
in a hotel managed by defendant, Lark Hotels, LLC (“Lark” or
Plaintiff contends that Lark was negligent in its
operation of the hotel because the bed frame in her hotel room
had unreasonably sharp edges that caused an injury to her right
Pending before this Court are defendant’s emergency motion
to set aside the default (Docket No. 10) and plaintiff’s motion
for entry of default judgment (Docket No. 17).
following reasons, defendant’s motion will be allowed and
plaintiff’s motion will be denied.
Plaintiff filed her complaint on May 15, 2017 and Lark was
served shortly thereafter.
No responsive pleading was filed
before it was due on June 21, 2017.
On July 6, 2017, plaintiff
requested and was granted entry of default.
On July 28, 2017,
defendant filed an emergency motion to set aside the default
which plaintiff opposed on August 4, 2017.
On August 23, 2017,
plaintiff filed a motion for entry of default judgment which was
timely opposed by defendant.
II. Defendant’s Motion to Set Aside Default and Plaintiff’s
Motion for Entry of Default Judgment
Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(c), entry of default can be
set aside for “good cause”.
That standard is a “liberal one”
based upon the policy justification that actions should be
resolved on their merits. Coon v. Grenier, 867 F.2d 73, 76 (1st
The “good cause” standard is not applied
formulaically and instead turns on the unique facts of each
case. McKinnon v. Kwong Wah Rest., 83 F.3d 498, 503 (1st Cir.
In determining whether entry of default should be set
aside, a district court should consider:
(1) whether the default was willful; (2) whether setting it
aside would prejudice the adversary; (3) whether a
meritorious defense is presented; (4) the nature of the
defendant’s explanation for the default; (5) the good faith
of the parties; (6) the amount of money involved; and (7)
the timing of the motion.
Id. (citing Coon, 867 F.2d at 76).
In its motion to set aside the default, Lark suggests that
its conduct did not willfully invite a default and that it has
acted diligently since receiving the subject notice.
contends that plaintiff will suffer no prejudice by the removal
of default and that it has meritorious defenses to this action.
Plaintiff rejoins that defendant’s justification is vague and
fails to demonstrate good cause.
Although plaintiff correctly notes that Lark’s rationale
for failing to answer or file a responsive pleading is
equivocal, it does not ring of bad faith or willfulness. Contra
McKinnon, 83 F.3d at 503 (affirming the district court’s
determination that defendants defaulted willfully because they
were aware of the pending legal problem but hoped that it “would
all go away”).
Here, Lark alludes to the failure of an agent of
its insurer, Custard Insurance Adjusters, to forward the summons
and complaint pursuant to her normal practice and procedure.
While that explanation is disconcerting, it does not suggest
that Lark’s employees or agents acted in bad faith.
Furthermore, Lark sought to remove the default soon after it was
The prejudice factor similarly cuts against Ms. Bryan.
entry of default is set aside, plaintiff’s recovery, if she
becomes entitled to one, will have been delayed.
In the context
of Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(c), however, “delay in and of itself does
not constitute prejudice”. KPS & Assocs. v. Designs by FMC,
Inc., 318 F.3d 1, 15 (1st Cir. 2003).
Furthermore, Lark has
presented a potentially meritorious defense against plaintiff’s
claim of negligence.
Lark contends that plaintiff will be
unable to show that Lark breached any duty owed to her because
the bedframe was not dangerously sharp and plaintiff fell on her
Establishing a meritorious defense is “not a
particularly arduous task” and a party’s contentions “need only
suggest the existence of facts which, if proven at trial, would
constitute a cognizable defense”.
Indigo Am., Inc. v. Big
Impressions LLC, 597 F.3d 1, 4 (1st Cir. 2010) (citing Coon, 867
F.2d at 77).
Defendant has met that low bar here.
Taken together, those factors countenance in favor of
allowing defendant the opportunity to defend the case on its
The Court concludes that there is good cause to allow
defendant’s motion to set aside the default.
For the foregoing reasons, defendant’s motion to set
aside the default (Docket No. 10) is ALLOWED and plaintiff’s
motion for entry of default judgment (Docket No. 17) is DENIED.
/s/ Nathaniel M. Gorton______
Nathaniel M. Gorton
United States District Judge
Dated November 7, 2017
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