United States District Court, S.D. New York
J. NATHAN, United States District Judge
the Court is pro se Plaintiff James Jiggetts' motion for
default judgment against Defendants United Parcel Service,
John Mannion, and Doug Trundiak (together, the "UPS
Defendants"). For the following reasons, that motion is
October 10, 2014, pro se Plaintiff James Jiggetts filed his
first complaint against, inter alia, the United
Parcel Service ("UPS"), alleging various causes of
action in relation to his termination of employment. Dkt. No.
1. On February 11, 2015, Jiggetts filed an amended complaint,
Dkt. No. 5, and after service of summons and several
extensions, the UPS Defendants timely filed their first
motion to dismiss the amended complaint on July 31, 2015.
Dkt. No. 17. On October 5, 2016, Jiggetts filed his
opposition to this motion, Dkt. No. 27, which the Court
subsequently construed as a request to file an amended
complaint, Dkt. No. 28. In the order granting that request,
the Court further stated that the UPS Defendants would have
until April 13, 2016, to file a new motion to dismiss,
indicate that they intended to rely on their existing motion
to dismiss, or otherwise respond to the operative second
amended complaint. Id. On that same day, the Court
issued an order to show cause directed at Mohanie Sukhu, an
individual defendant in this case, ordering her to file a
notice of appearance. Dkt. No. 29. After Ms. Sukhu filed such
a notice, the Court set a deadline of April 25, 2016, by
which time she was ordered to answer or otherwise respond to
the second amended complaint. Dkt. No. 33. On April 11, 2016,
the UPS Defendants moved for a similar extension of time to
file their response, to April 25, 2016, on the theory that
such extension would allow the UPS Defendants to file their
motion or pleading on the same day as Ms. Sukhu. Dkt. No. 34.
On April 15, 2016, Magistrate Judge Kevin Fox denied this
request, finding that the UPS Defendants had not demonstrated
good cause for such an extension. Dkt. No. 35. Nevertheless,
the UPS Defendants did not file their motion to dismiss until
April 25, 2016-12 days late, and five days after Ms. Sukhu
filed hers. Dkt. No. 39.
after the UPS Defendants filed their motion to dismiss, the
Plaintiff filed the pending motion for default judgment. Dkt.
No. 44. In that motion, Jiggetts appears primarily to cite
the lateness of the UPS Defendants' second motion to
dismiss as justification for the Court awarding him a default
judgment. See Id. at 5. On May 19, 2016,
the UPS Defendants submitted an opposition to Jiggetts'
motion. Dkt. No. 46. In that opposition, then-counsel for the
UPS Defendants Basil Sitaras represents that during the week
of April 15, 2016, his grandmother suffered a medical
emergency, and, as a result of that emergency and travel
associated with it, he lost track of the relevant deadline.
Id. at 4. The UPS Defendants argue in their
opposition that default judgment is not warranted on the
basis of the late filing, and that the case should proceed to
adjudication on the merits. See Id. at 4-9. The
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(a), the Court may grant
a default judgment when a defendant has failed to plead or
otherwise to defend an action. See Fed.R.Civ.P.
55(a). Though a district court may, in its discretion, grant
such a judgment, "[t]he Second Circuit has repeatedly
emphasized its 'preference for resolving disputes on the
merits, ' and 'when doubt exists as to whether
default should be granted or vacated, the doubt should be
resolved in favor of the defaulting party.'"
Moreno-Godoy v. Gullet Dreyer & Berkey, LLP, No.
14 CIV. 7082 (PAE), 2015 WL 5737565, at *8 (S.D.N.Y. Sept.
30, 2015) (quoting Enron Oil Corp. v. Diakuhara, 10
F.3d 90, 95-96 (2d Cir. 1993) (citation omitted)). District
courts in this Circuit primarily consider three factors when
determining whether a default judgment is warranted:
"(1) whether the default was willful, (2) whether the
defendant demonstrates the existence of a meritorious
defense, and (3) whether, and to what extent, vacating the
default will cause the nondefaulting party prejudice."
Id. (quoting State St. Bank & Trust Co. v.
Inversiones Errazuriz Limitada, 374 F.3d 158, 166-67 (2d
Cir. 2004)). Further, "motions for default judgments
will be denied where a party appears to defend unless it is
clear that under no circumstances could the defense
succeed." Rankel v. Kabateck, No. 12 CV 216
(VB), 2013 WL 7161687, at *7 n.8 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 9, 2013)
(quoting Guangxi Nanning Baiyang Food Co., Ltd. v. Long
River Int'l, Inc., No. 09 Civ. 3059 (TPG), 2010 WL
1257573, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 30, 2010)).
is no question that default judgment is not warranted
here. Though the UPS Defendants filed their
motion to dismiss late (despite Judge Fox's clear denial
of their motion for an extension), they have actively
participated in this case for years. Further, the three
factors articulated above strongly weigh against default.
First, it is evident that the late-filing was not willful.
Second, a review of the motion to dismiss reveals multiple
potentially meritorious defenses to many of the causes of
action alleged. See Dkt. No. 39. Finally, Jiggetts
has pointed to no prejudice that this relatively minor delay
has caused to him, nor could he. Cf. Moreno-Godoy,
LLP, 2015 WL 5737565, at *9 (citing, as an example of
such prejudice, a claim "that delay occasioned by [the
defendant's] disregard of [a] lawsuit resulted in the
destruction of relevant evidence"). Indeed, a finding of
default in this case, given the potential existence of one or
more meritorious defenses on the merits, would be patently
inconsistent with "the interests of justice."
Id. (assessing the interests of justice before
concluding that default was not warranted given the potential
existence of meritorious defenses).
Court DENIES the Plaintiffs motion for default judgment
against the UPS Defendants.
in its May 10, 2016 order, the Court stayed the deadline for
responding to the UPS Defendants' motion to dismiss until
after resolution of the pending motion for default judgment.
Dkt. No. 45. The Court hereby lifts that stay, and orders
that, if Plaintiff wishes to respond to the pending motion to
dismiss, such response is due on or before February 14, 2017.
Any reply from the UPS Defendants will be due on or before
February 28, 2017.
Court reminds the UPS Defendants that deadlines will be