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Hunt v. City of Auburn

United States District Court, N.D. New York

November 19, 2014

JOSEPH E. HUNT, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF AUBURN et al., Defendants.

Joseph E. Hunt, Pro Se, Weedsport, NY, For the Plaintiff.

JOHN F. MOORE, ESQ., CLAUDIA A. RYAN, ESQ., Towne, Ryan Law Firm, Albany, NY, For the Defendants.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

GARY L. SHARPE, Chief District Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff pro se Joseph E. Hunt[1] commenced this action against defendants City of Auburn, and John Does No. 1 through 5, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of his First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights, along with multiple state constitutional and common law claims. ( See generally Compl., Dkt. No. 1.) Pending is the City's motion to set aside default, (Dkt. No. 18), and Hunt's motion for default judgment, (Dkt. No. 10). For the reasons that follow, the City's motion is granted and Hunt's motion is denied as moot.

II. Background

A. Facts[2]

In August 2010, Hunt, a Type II diabetic, was driving through the City of Auburn on his motorcycle. (Compl. ¶¶ 4-5.) He began to feel ill, and immediately grew concerned that he was suffering from initial symptoms of a hypoglycemic episode, which can result in, among other things, seizures and convulsions. ( Id. ) In order to combat his symptoms and thwart a hypoglycemic episode, Hunt pulled into a Hess Mart convenience store and purchased a chocolate bar. ( Id. ¶¶ 6-7.) Hunt's efforts were too late, however, and, after he exited the store, he "fell to the ground... and... lost control of his bodily movement, jerking involuntarily and hitting his head on the pavement." ( Id. ¶¶ 7-8.)

After noticing Hunt's condition, a store employee dialed 911, and "a group of City of Auburn Police Officers" responded to the scene, unaccompanied by an ambulance. ( Id. ¶¶ 9-10, 13.) Upon arriving, the officers "flipped [Hunt] into a prone position and proceeded to handcuff" him, and "deal[t] with [him] in a rough, adversarial and forceful manner." ( Id. ¶¶ 11, 13.) Eventually, Hunt was taken by ambulance to Auburn Memorial Hospital, where he was "diagnosed and treated for hypoglycemia and other complications stemming from... the malfeasance of the [d]efendant actors." ( Id. ¶ 14.)

B. Procedural History

Hunt filed his complaint on August 23, 2013. ( See generally Compl.) On December 5, 2013, Hunt filed proof of service, stating that a copy of the summons and complaint was served, in person, upon the office of the City Clerk of the City of Auburn on November 13, 2013. (Dkt. No. 5.) After the City failed to file a responsive pleading, Magistrate Judge Therèse Wiley Dancks issued a text order, and directed Hunt to file a request for a Clerk's entry of default by February 7, 2014, or file a status report regarding any contact with the City and/or the City's counsel. (Dkt. No. 7.) Hunt sought entry of default pursuant to Local Rule 55.1 on February 11, 2014. (Dkt. No. 8.) Soon thereafter, the Clerk entered default. (Dkt. No. 9.) The pending motions were filed afterward. (Dkt. Nos. 10, 18.)

III. Standard of Review

"The court may set aside an entry of default for good cause, " Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(c), which requires the court's consideration of three factors: "(1) whether the default was willful; (2) whether setting aside the default would prejudice the party for whom default was awarded; and (3) whether the moving party has presented a meritorious defense." Peterson v. Syracuse Police Dep't, 467 F.Appx. 31, 33 (2d Cir. 2012). "This test should be applied in the context of the general preference that litigation disputes be resolved on the merits, not on default.'" Citadel Mgmt. Inc. v. Telesis Trust, Inc., 123 F.Supp.2d 133, 142 (S.D.N.Y. 2000) (quoting Cody ...


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