Phillips v. Gordon et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER re: 14 PRO SE MOTION Declaration for Entry of Default filed by Plaintiff Curtis Phillips motion is DENIED. IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiffs motion for entry of default is DENIED. [ECF No. 14]. Signed by District Judge John A. Ross on 11/20/20. (CMH)
Case: 1:20-cv-00057-JAR Doc. #: 20 Filed: 11/20/20 Page: 1 of 3 PageID #: 86
UNITE~ STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
LANE GORDON, et al.,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on self-represented plaintiff Curtis Phillips' motion for entry
of default judgment against defendants. Defendants oppose the motion. For the following reasons,
the Court will deny plaintiffs motion.
Plaintiff is an incarcerated person, currently housed at Southeast Correctional Center. He
brings this matter under 42 U.S.C. § I'.983 alleging defendant Sergeant Lane Gordon used excessive
force against him while he was restrained, and the remaining defendants failed to protect him. On
July 29, 2020, the Court conducted an initial review of plaintiff's complaint under 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e ), and ordered service on defendants pursuant to the service agreement the Court maintains
with the Missouri Attorney General. Defendants were served with the Court's waiver of service
letter on July 30, 2020. Their responsive pleading was due within sixty days, or by September 30,
2020. Defendants did not file a responsive pleading by this deadline.
On October 7, 2020, plaintiff filed the instant motion seeking entry of default against
defendants. In his motion, plaintiff states that defendants are late in responding to the complaint.
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He is particularly discouraged by thi~ lack of response because defendants are "represented by the
Office of the State Attorney General,;a whole battalion of highly-trained legal professionals, while
the plaintiff, and uneducated mental health patient, partially blinded by the assault at issue, is pro
se. The Defendant's lack of response indicates abandonment of disputation."
On October 15, 2020, defendants filed a motion for an extension of time to file a responsive
pleading. Defendants stated that a clerical oversight or other technical issue occurred at the Office
of the Attorney General, and they were not aware of the case or the waiver of service letter. The
Court granted defendants an additional thirty days to respond the complaint, and defendants filed
their answer within this time.
Because there is a "judicial preference for adjudication on the merits," the law generally
disfavors default judgments, and the entry of a default judgment "should be a rare judicial act."
Belcourt Pub. Sch. Dist. v. Davis, 786 F.3d 653, 661 (8th Cir. 2015) (internal quotation marks
omitted). The decision to enter a default judgment rests within the district court's sound discretion.
Id. Here, defendants responded within eight days to plaintiffs motion for entry of default, and
requested additional time to file a responsive pleading. In all, defendants were six weeks late in
responding to plaintiffs complaint. Plaintiff has not alleged he suffered any prejudice because of
this delay. While the Court shares plaintiffs reasonable expectation that the Office of the Attorney
General would timely file its responsive pleading, the Court also acknowledges that clerical errors
occur. Because default judgments are disfavored in the law and plaintiff has suffered no prejudice,
the Court will deny plaintiffs motion for entry of default.
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IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiffs motion for entry of default is DENIED. [ECF
Dated this 20th day of November, 2020.
D STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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