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Waldron v. Milana

United States District Court, Second Circuit

June 5, 2013

DEBBIE M. WALDRON, Plaintiff,
v.
JAMES MILANA; SCOTT HENDERSON; SEAN LYNCH; THOMAS SKARDINSKI; DETECTIVE LAMBERTON; CITY OF SYRACUSE, NEW YORK; CARMEL J. RIGGS; and DANIELLE RIGGS, Defendants.

B. BROOKS BENSON, ESQ. OFFICE OF PETER M. HOBAICA, LLC Utica, New York, Counsel for Plaintiff.

LAWRENCE GOLDEN, ESQ. THE GOLDEN LAW FIRM Utica, New York, Counsel for Plaintiff.

DECISION AND ORDER

GLENN T. SUDDABY, District Judge.

Currently before the Court in this civil rights and common law tort action is a motion by plaintiff, Debbie M. Waldron ("Plaintiff") against defendants, Carmel J. Riggs and Danielle Riggs ("Defendants") for default judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2).

I. Relevant Background

A. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint

Generally, in her Amended Complaint, Plaintiff asserts the following four claims against Defendants: (1) malicious prosecution, (2) slander, libel and defamation, (3) fraud, and (4) intentional infliction of emotional distress. ( See generally Dkt. No. 33 [Pl.'s Am. Compl.].) Generally, in support of these claims, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants made knowingly false oral and written statements to police implicating Plaintiff in an arson, for which Plaintiff was falsely arrested and imprisoned, with the intent to injure Plaintiff and that resulted in injury to Plaintiff. ( See id. at ΒΆΒΆ 40-58.)

B. Plaintiff's Service of Her Complaint and Defendants' Failure to Answer or Otherwise Appear

This action was originally commenced on January 19, 2010 against Defendants as well as the City of Syracuse, the County of Onondaga, and multiple agents or officers of those entities. On December 7, 2010, Honorable Neal P. McCurn, Senior United States District Judge, dismissed the action against the County of Onondaga and its officers. ( See Dkt. No. 30.) On September 10, 2012, Judge McCurn granted the Syracuse Defendants' motion for summary judgment. ( See Dkt. No. 60.) Thereafter, Plaintiff appealed Judge McCurn's decision, which is currently pending before the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Despite being served with a summons and complaint on January 28, 2010, (see Dkt. No. 15 [Aff. of Service]), Defendants have never answered the complaint or otherwise appeared in this action. On August 29, 2011, upon request from Plaintiff, the Clerk of the Court entered default against Defendants.

On October 2, 2012, this Court issued an Order directing Plaintiff that a motion for default must be filed, if at all, within thirty days of the Order. On November 1, 2012, Plaintiff sought an extension of time to file her motion, which was granted. On December 3, 2012 Plaintiff filed the current motion for default judgment against Defendants.

Generally, in support of her motion for default judgment against Defendants, Plaintiff argues that neither of the Defendants have appeared in this action and that default has been entered. Plaintiff further argues that her Amended Complaint sets forth valid New York common law claims for malicious prosecution, "slander, libel and defamation, " fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress against both Defendants.

Accordingly, Plaintiff requests that the Court, not a jury, determine the damages she is entitled to by reason of the personal injuries she sustained as a result of the tortious acts committed against her by Defendants. Plaintiff contends that the items of damage to be determined by the Court at a damages inquest hearing include punitive damages, attorney's fees and costs.

II. Relevant Legal Standards

A. Legal Standard Governing Motions for Default Judgment

Pursuant to Rule 55 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, courts must follow a twostep procedure in order to enter a default judgment. See Paramount Pictures Corp. v. Hopkins, No. 07-CV-593, 2008 WL 314541, at *2 (N.D.N.Y. Feb. 4, 2008). First, Rule 55(a) provides that "[w]hen a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend... the clerk must enter the party's default." Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). Second, pursuant to Rule 55(b)(2), the party seeking default judgment must present its application for an entry of judgment to the court. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2).

When a court considers a motion for the entry of a default judgment, it must first "accept[ ] as true all of the factual allegations of the complaint...." Au Bon Pain Corp. v. Artect, Inc., 653 F.2d 61, 65 (2d Cir.1981) (citations omitted). Next, the court must determine whether those facts are sufficient to state a claim for relief as to each cause of action for which the plaintiff seeks default judgment. See Priestly v. Headminder, Inc., 647 F.3d 497, 505(2d ...


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