GREEN et al v. IRVINGTON POLICE DEPARTMENT et al
WHEREAS OPINION. Signed by Judge Susan D. Wigenton on 11/18/2022. (wh)
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
MARCEL GREEN, BRIANA BANKS,
Civil Action No. 19-20239 (SDW) (JRA)
IRVINGTON POLICE DEPARTMENT,
DET BRECHNER JEANNOT, JOHN
DOES 1-100, DET MITCHELL
MOLINA, and DET JENKENS,
November 18, 2022
THIS MATTER having come before this Court upon Defendants Irvington Police
Department, Det. Brechner Jeannot, and Det. Christopher Jenkens’s (collectively, “Moving
Defendants”) Motion to Vacate the Default entered against them on January 14, 2022 (D.E. 27); 1
WHEREAS pro se Plaintiffs Marcel Green, Briana Banks, and S.G. (“Plaintiffs”) filed
this lawsuit on November 14, 2019, alleging in the operative amended complaint dated July 8,
2020, that Defendants deprived them of their constitutional rights in the course of an arrest and
search of their home in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (D.E. 1, 3.) On November 3, 2021, this
Court dismissed the action for failure to effect service. (D.E. 14.) The following day, Plaintiffs
served all Defendants except Det. Molina. (D.E. 15, 16.) On November 17, 2021, this Court
This Court never entered default against Det. Mitchell Molina, and Plaintiffs have not filed proof of service upon
him, so he is not considered a movant in the instant matter. (See D.E. 20–22.)
reopened the case and, on January 14, 2022, it granted Plaintiffs’ request for an entry of default
against Moving Defendants pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“Rule”) 55(a) for failure
to plead or otherwise defend (D.E. 19, 20); and
WHEREAS on August 11, 2022, the defendants entered their appearances through counsel
and Moving Defendants now move to vacate the default entered against them. (D.E. 25, 27.)
Plaintiff Marcel Green has subsequently filed three letters, but Plaintiffs have not opposed the
motion to vacate default (D.E. 28–30); and
WHEREAS this Court may “set aside an entry of default for good cause[.]” Fed. R. Civ.
P. 55(c). In deciding whether to vacate a default, a court must consider: “(1) whether the plaintiff
will be prejudiced; (2) whether the defendant has a meritorious defense; and (3) whether the default
was the result of the defendant’s culpable conduct.” Gold Kist, Inc. v. Laurinburg Oil Co., 756
F.2d 14, 19 (3d Cir. 1985). This Court disfavors resolving disputes by default, and “the standard
for setting aside a default is less stringent than for setting aside a default judgment.” Mettle v.
First Union Nat’l Bank, 279 F. Supp. 2d 598, 601 (D.N.J. 2003) (citing Feliciano v. Reliant
Tooling Co., Ltd., 691 F.2d 653, 656 (3d Cir.1982); Harad v. Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co., 839 F.2d
979, 982 (3d Cir.1988)); and
WHEREAS this Court is satisfied that there is good cause to vacate the entry of default
and allow this dispute to be resolved on the merits. First, Plaintiffs do not oppose the motion and
they will not be prejudiced by a vacatur which will allow their claims to be addressed on the merits.
Default was entered on January 14, 2022, but Plaintiffs have never obtained a default judgment.
Second, Moving Defendants certify that they have numerous, meritorious defenses to Plaintiffs’
claims. (D.E. 27-2 ¶¶ 24–25.) Finally, although Moving Defendants failed to appear in this case
for several months after they were served with the complaint, they certify that their failure to
respond was not willful or done in bad faith. (Id. ¶¶ 22–23.) Examining the record as a whole,
the circumstances support granting Moving Defendants’ unopposed motion; therefore
Moving Defendants’ motion will be GRANTED, and they shall have fifteen (15) days to
respond to Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint. An appropriate order follows.
/s/ Susan D. Wigenton
SUSAN D. WIGENTON, U.S.D.J.
Hon. José R. Almonte, U.S.M.J.
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