Walker v. Commissioner of Social Security
DECISION AND ORDER denying 15 Motion for Default Judgment. Plaintiffs response to defendants motion for a judgment on the pleadings remains due by August 30, 2017. Signed by Hon. Michael A. Telesca on 8/18/17. (JMC)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
DECISION AND ORDER
NANCY A. BERRYHILL,
ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL
Plaintiff Brian Walker (“plaintiff”) commenced the instant
action on March 8, 2017, seeking review of defendant the Acting
Commissioner of Social Security’s (“defendant”) denial of his
application for Social Security benefits. Docket No. 1. Plaintiff
was granted permission to proceed in forma pauperis, and the Court
ordered that the United States Marshals Service (the “USMS”) serve
the summons and complaint on defendant.
served defendant on April 3, 2016.
Docket No. 3.
Docket No. 5.
Pursuant to this Court’s Standing Order In the Matter of
Actions Seeking Review of the Commissioner of Social Security’s
September 6, 2013 (the “Standing Order”), defendant had 90 days
from service of the complaint in which to file certified transcript
Accordingly, the certified transcript of administrative proceedings
was required to be filed no later than July 3, 2017.
appears that the case administrator who filed the executed summons
made an error in the docket entry, and indicated that the answer
was due by June 26, 2017.
Docket No. 5.
Defendant filed the
certified transcript of administrative proceedings on June 28,
Docket No. 9.
In letters dated June 28, 2017, and August 8, 2017, plaintiff
Docket Nos. 10, 12.
On August 9, 2017, the Court sent
plaintiff a letter in which it explained that (1) requests for
default judgment cannot be made by letter and (2) no default has
occurred in this case.
Plaintiff has now filed a motion for default judgment. Docket
For the reasons discussed below the motion is denied.
Plaintiff seeks default judgment against defendant because the
certified transcript of administrative proceedings was not filed
until June 28, 2017.
Plaintiff is not entitled to this relief.
As a threshold matter, plaintiff has not properly sought
Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
55(a), before making a motion for default judgment, plaintiff was
first required to seek a Clerk’s entry of default.
He did not do
so, and so his motion is procedurally deficient.
Moreover and more importantly, as explained above, there has
been no default in this case. Defendant’s answer was not due until
July 3, 2017, and was filed on June 28, 2017.
The fact that the
case administrator made an erroneous entry on the docket is not the
fault of defendant, and does not change or subvert the clear
deadline set forth in the Standing Order.
therefore must fail on the merits, as well.
Moreover, even had defendant missed the deadline to file her
answer by two days, the Court still would not enter a default
The decision whether to set aside an entry of default is
“committed to the sound discretion of the district court,” Traguth
v. Zuck, 710 F.2d 90, 94 (2d Cir. 1983) and “the extreme sanction
of a default judgment must remain a weapon of last, rather than
Meehan v. Snow, 652 F.2d 274, 277 (2d Cir. 1981).
In determining whether to excuse a party’s default, the Court
considers whether the default was wilful, whether there has been
prejudice to the other party, and whether a meritorious defense is
Here, these factors overwhelmingly lead to the
conclusion that entry of default judgment is inappropriate.
is no evidence that any delay was wilful, there has been no
prejudice to plaintiff, and defendant has presented a potentially
As such, even assuming that plaintiff were
correct and defendant had missed the filing deadline by two days,
the Court would not enter a default judgment.
For the foregoing reasons, plaintiff’s motion for a default
judgment is denied. Plaintiff’s response to defendant’s motion for
a judgment on the pleadings remains due by August 30, 2017.
ALL OF THE ABOVE IS SO ORDERED.
S/Michael A. Telesca
HON. MICHAEL A. TELESCA
United States District Judge
August 18, 2017
Rochester, New York
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