Metropolitan Life Insurance Company v. Betancourt et al

Filing 30

ORDER DENYING 23 Motion for Entry of Default. The parties are reminded to read the order in its entirety for critical deadlines and information. Signed by Senior Judge James C. Fox on 5/30/2014. Copy sent to I. Betancourt via US Mail. (Edwards, S.)

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA WESTERN DIVISION Case No. 5:14-CV-117-F METROPOLITAN LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff, vs. IVONNE I. BETANCOURT and RAFAEL 0. MOLINA, JR., Defendants. and RAFAEL 0. MOLINA, JR., Cross-Claim Plaintiff and Defendant, vs. ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ORDER IVONNE I. BETANCOURT, ) Cross-Claim Defendant and ) Plaintiff. ) ) ) This matter is before the court on the Motion for Entry of Default [DE-23] Against Ivonne I. Betancourt as to Rafael 0. Molina Jr.'s Cross Claim. Plaintiff Metropolitan Life Insurance Company ("MetLife") initiated this action by filing the Complaint for Interpleader [DE-l] naming Ivonne Betancourt and Rafael Molina as defendants. Molina filed his Answer to the Compliant for Interpleader, and a Cross-Claim against Betancourt [DE-ll] on March 19,2014. Betancourt, proceeding prose, moved for extensions of time [DE-14; DE-16] to file her answer to the Complaint for Interpleader and Molina's Cross-Claim, which were allowed [DE-15; DE-17]. Betancourt had until April28, 2014, to file those pleadings. On April25, 2014, Betancourt filed her Answer and Cross-Claim [DE-19] against Molina. She did not explicitly file an answer to Molina's Cross Claim. Shortly thereafter, Molina filed the instant motion. Betancourt has responded [DE-27] to the motion, stating that her Answer and Cross-Claim [DE-19] was intended to be a response to Molina's Cross-Claim. Although it may have been Betancourt's intent that her Answer and Cross-Claim [DE-19] serve as response to Molina's Cross-Claim, it does not have that effect under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 8(b) provides that provides that in responding to a pleading, a party must admit or deny the allegations asserted against her by an opposing party. Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(b)(1 )(B). Additionally, that rule provides that an allegation is admitted if a responsive pleading is required and the allegation is not denied. Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(b)(6). Betancourt's Answer and Cross-Claim [DE-19] does not specifically admit or deny the allegations set forth in Molina's Cross-Claim. Instead, it responds only to the allegations set forth in the Complaint for Interpleader, and then sets forth Betancourt's Cross-Claim against Molina. Nevertheless, the court is cognizant ofthe Fourth Circuit's admonition that "the clear policy of the [Federal] [R]ules [of Civil Procedure] is to encourage the disposition of claims on their merits." United States v. Moradi, 673 F .2d 725, 727-28 (4th Cir. 1982) (citing Reizakis v. Loy, 490 F.2d 1132, 1135 (4th Cir. 1974)). Accordingly, the court will construe Betancourt's response [DE-27] as a motion for extension oftime to file an Answer to Molina's Cross-Claim, and ALLOW the motion. Betancourt has until June 27,2014 to file her Answer to Molina's Cross-Claim. The Motion for Entry of Default [DE-23] is DENIED without prejudice. 2 SO ORDERED. This the 30th day of May, 2014. J;foes C. Fox Senior United States District Judge 3

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