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Lent v. CCNH, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. New York

June 1, 2015

KAYSI LENT, Plaintiff,
v.
CCNH, INC. d/b/a CORTLAND CARE CENTER, Defendant.

THE LAMA LAW FIRM, LLP, LUCIANO L. LAMA, ESQ., Ithaca, New York, Attorneys for Plaintiff, CCNH, INC., Cortland, New York.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

MAE A. D'AGOSTINO, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

On August 8, 2013, Plaintiff filed this action alleging that Defendant CCNH, Inc. ("CCNH") discriminated against her in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), New York Executive Law § 296 (the New York Human Rights Law ("NYHRL")), and New York Civil Rights Law ("NYCRL") § 40-c and intentionally inflicted emotional distress on her, by virtue of CCNH's failure to take action when Plaintiff notified it that one of its employees, Jeffrey S. Greene, [1] harassed, sexually abused, and raped her. See Dkt. No. 1 at 1-11 ("Complaint"). CCNH has failed to answer or move against the Complaint, or to otherwise appear in this action. Currently before the Court is Plaintiff's unopposed amended motion for default judgment. See Dkt. No. 29.

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff alleges that between October 24, 2007 and January of 2009, while both she and Greene were employed by CCNH, Greene cornered her on a daily basis in a locked closet on CCNH's premises and forced her to touch his genitals, perform oral sex, and engage in sexual intercourse. Complaint at ¶¶ 10-12. At the time the sexual abuse began, Plaintiff was sixteen years old. Id. at ¶ 13. On January 22, 2009, Plaintiff was admitted to Cortland Regional Medical Center after a suicide attempt following an argument with Mr. Greene. Id. at ¶ 15; Dkt. No. 1 at 13-16. The Cortland Regional Medical Center Emergency Department Report states as follows:

Kaysi is a 17-year-old female brought into the Emergency Department by her mother with the chief complaint of overdose. The patient was brought in by her mother after she told her mother she took 12 ibuprofen of 200 mg. The patient states she took these about an hour prior to coming into the Emergency Department. She denies any nausea or vomiting. No pain. The patient states that she was feeling at the time that she wanted to hurt herself. She states she does not feel this way at this time. The patient did have an argument with her current boyfriend who is 43-years-old and a coworker at a local nursing home. The patient's mother states that she only found out about this today as the patient told her mother that her boyfriend had broken up with her. She states she did not know that this man was her daughter's boyfriend. The patient states that she knows the age of consent is 17 in the state of New York and "so they cannot get in trouble for this." She was very concerned though that this man would get into trouble for this relationship with her and states this is why she took the ibuprofen.

Dkt. No. 1 at 15.

Thereafter, on January 28, 2009, Plaintiff's mother informed Plaintiff's supervisor at CCNH, Sharon Breed, of the sexual assault allegations made by Plaintiff against Greene. Complaint at ¶ 16. Breed informed Plaintiff that she did not believe the accusations, refused to transfer Plaintiff to a shift that was different from Greene's, and advised Plaintiff not to file a report with CCNH's human resources department regarding her allegations. Id. at ¶ 17. On February 15, 2009, Greene was transferred to a different shift for reasons other than Plaintiff's request. Id. at ¶ 18. In May of 2009, Breed informed Plaintiff that Greene would be transferred back to Plaintiff's shift and that, if Plaintiff was not agreeable to this, Plaintiff should quit her job. Id. at ¶¶ 19-20. On May 15, 2009, three days before Greene was scheduled to be transferred back to Plaintiff's shift, Plaintiff resigned her position. Id. at ¶ 21. At some point in 2009, Greene was indicted by the Grand Jury of Cortland County on three counts of Criminal Sexual Act in the Third Degree, three counts of Rape in the Third Degree, and one count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child. Id. at ¶ 22; Dkt. No. 1 at 29-35. On April 26, 2010, Greene was convicted of two counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child and sentenced to three years probation. Complaint at ¶ 23; Dkt. No. 1 at 37-39.

Plaintiff filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") alleging discrimination under Title VII. Complaint at ¶ 25. In a June 6, 2013 letter, the EEOC found that Plaintiff "was subject to a hostile work environment in that she was sexually harassed and constructively discharged after complaining about the harassment/hostile work environment." Complaint at ¶ 26; Dkt. No. 1 at 96-99.

Plaintiff commenced this action on August 8, 2013 by filing a Complaint against CCNH and Greene. See Dkt. No. 1. Plaintiff completed service of the Summons and Complaint on CCNH on September 25, 2013. See Dkt. Nos. 5, 7. To date, CCNH has not filed an answer or motion in response to the Complaint.

On October 18, 2013, pursuant to Rule 55(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Plaintiff requested an entry of default against CCNH. See Dkt. No. 10. On October 21, 2013, the Clerk of the Court entered a default against CCNH. See Dkt. No. 11. On November 20, 2013, Plaintiff filed her initial motion seeking a default judgment against CCNH pursuant to Rule 55(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Dkt. No. 18. On September 8, 2014, the Court issued an order denying without prejudice Plaintiff's initial motion for default judgment and ordered Plaintiff to file a certificate of service demonstrating that Plaintiff's motion had been served on CCNH. See Dkt. No. 28. The Court also notified Plaintiff that the record as of the date of the Court's Order was insufficient to permit a determination on damages without a hearing, should the Court grant Plaintiff's motion for default judgment. Id. at 2 n.2. On September 11, 2014, Plaintiff filed an amended motion for default judgment, which included a certificate of service attesting that the motion had been served on CCNH. See Dkt. Nos. 29, 30, 31, 32, 33. CCNH has not responded to the motion.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Entry of default judgment

"Rule 55(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that when a party moves for judgment against an adverse party who has failed to answer or otherwise appear in the action, the court may enter judgment against the defaulting party." Coated Fabrics Co. v. Mirle Corp., No. 06-CV-5415, 2008 WL 163598, *4 (E.D.N.Y. Jan. 16, 2008) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)). "That rule, in tandem with the Northern District of New York Local Rule 55.2, sets forth certain procedural prerequisites that must be met before a default judgment may be entered...." Pert 35, Inc. v. Amari Aviation Ltd., No. 09-CV-0448, 2010 WL 1257949, *3 (N.D.N.Y. Mar. 5, 2010). More specifically, in order to grant a plaintiff's motion for default judgment, the plaintiff must satisfy the following requirements: "1) show that the defendant was properly served with a summons and complaint; 2) obtain the entry of default; and 3) provide an affidavit setting forth the salient facts including, if the defendant is a person, showing that he or she is not an infant or incompetent, or a member of the United States Military Service." Id. (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2); N.Y.N.D. L.R. 55.1 and 55.2) (other citation omitted).

"When a default judgment is entered, the defendant's failure to respond constitutes an admission of the well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint, except as to claims relating to damages." Coated Fabrics Co., 2008 WL 163598, at *4 (citing Greyhound Exhibitgroup, Inc. v. E.L.U.L. Realty Corp., 973 F.2d 155, 158 (2d Cir. 1992); Au Bon Pain Corp. v. Artect, Inc., 653 F.2d 61, 65 (2d Cir. 1981)). In determining whether to enter a default judgment, the Second Circuit has cautioned that defaults are not favored, and "doubts are to be resolved in favor of a trial on the merits." Meehan v. Snow, 652 F.2d 274, 277 (2d Cir. 1981) (citations omitted). While the Second Circuit has recognized the "push on a trial court to dispose of cases that, in disregard of the rules, are not processed expeditiously [and]... delay and clog its calendar, " it has held that the district court must balance that interest with its responsibility to "afford[] litigants a reasonable chance to be heard." Enron Oil Corp. v. Diakuhara, 10 F.3d 90, 96 (2d Cir. 1993) (citations omitted). Thus, in light of the "oft-stated preference for resolving disputes on the merits, " default judgments "are generally disfavored." Id. at 95-96 (citations omitted). Accordingly, simply because a party is in default, the plaintiff is not entitled to a default judgment as a matter of right. See Erwin DeMarino Trucking Co. v. Jackson, 838 F.Supp. 160, 162 (S.D.N.Y. 1993) (noting that courts must "supervise default judgments with extreme care to avoid miscarriages of justice").

In considering a motion for default judgment, the Court is guided by the same three factors that apply to a motion to set aside entry of a default judgment. See Enron Oil Corp., 10 F.3d at 96; Rodriguez v. Almighty Cleaning, Inc., 784 F.Supp.2d 114, 123 (E.D.N.Y. 2011) (citations omitted). Specifically, the court considers "(1) whether the defendant's default was willful; (2) whether defendant has a meritorious defense to plaintiff's claims; and (3) the level of prejudice the non-defaulting party would suffer as a result of the denial of the motion for default judgment.'" Rodriguez, 784 F.Supp.2d at 123 (quoting Mason Tenders Dist. Council Welfare Fund v. Duce Constr. Corp., No. 02 Civ 9044, 2003 WL 1960584, *2 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 25, 2003)). "[B]ecause defaults are generally disfavored ...


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