Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

White Plains Housing Authority v. Getty Properties Corp.

United States District Court, S.D. New York

April 25, 2017

WHITE PLAINS HOUSING AUTHORITY, Plaintiff,
v.
GETTY PROPERTIES CORPORATION, TYREE ENVIRONMENTAL CORPORATION, SINGER REAL ESTATE GROUP, LLC, MICHAEL C. KENNY, KENNETH C. SEUS, and MARIANINA OIL CORP., Defendants. GETTY PROPERTIES CORPORATION, TYREE ENVIRONMENTAL CORPORATION, SINGER REAL ESTATE GROUP, LLC, MICHAEL C. KENNY, and KENNETH C. SEUS, Third-Party Plaintiffs,
v.
MARIANINA OIL CORP., Third-Party Defendant.

          OPINION & ORDER

          NELSON S. ROMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Defendant Marianina Oil Corp. ("Marianina" or "Defaulting Defendant") seeks to set aside a default judgment entered against it when it failed to appear or defend against the claims brought against it by Plaintiff White Plains Housing Authority (the "Housing Authority") and Defendants/Third-Party Plaintiffs Getty Properties Corporation, Tyree Environmental Corporation, Singer Real Estate Group, LLC, Michael C. Kenny, and Kenneth C. Seus (the “Getty Defendants”). For the reasons that follow, Defaulting Defendant's motion is GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         This opinion assumes the reader's familiarity with the long procedural history of this case and summarizes only the portions relevant to deciding the instant motion.

         Plaintiff, the Housing Authority, initiated this action in late 2013 against the Getty Defendants for the alleged contamination of the land underneath a public housing development located at 159 S. Lexington Ave. in White Plains, New York. (See Compl. ¶ 1, ECF No. 1.) The Defendants either owned or operated the adjacent Getty gas station located at 26 East Post Road, or operated treatment systems located on that property, at times relevant to the alleged migration of hazardous materials from the gas station to the parking lot located at the housing development. (Id. ¶¶ 11-12, 15, 18, 21, 24-25, 28.) At the time this suit was brought, 350 people, including children and elderly individuals, lived at the development. (Id. ¶ 27.)

         On March 30, 2015, the Getty Defendants filed a third-party complaint against Marianina alleging that any damages the Housing Authority may have incurred “as a result of gasoline contamination in the soil and groundwater at Plaintiff's [159 S. Lexington Ave.] [p]roperty . . . were caused in whole or in part by discharges [of hazardous materials] occurring at and/or emanating from the 34 East Post Road [p]roperty” where Marianina owned and operated a different gas station. (Third Party Compl. ¶¶ 14-16, 39, ECF No. 67.) Subsequently on August 14, 2015, Plaintiff amended the complaint in the direct action to include Marianina as an additional Defendant. (See ECF No. 82.) Marianina did not respond to either complaint. The Court held a conference on October 21, 2015 where all parties were present except for Marianina who did not appear. (See Minute Entry of Oct. 21, 2015.)

         The Clerk of the Court entered a certificate of default against Marianina on October 27, 2015. (ECF No. 98.) On October 28, 2015, the Court scheduled a hearing for December 1, 2015, for Marianina to show cause as to why a default judgment should not be entered against it for failing to appear or respond in any way to the complaints filed against it. (ECF No. 102.) Neither a representative nor counsel for Marianina appeared at the hearing. (See Minute Entry of Dec. 1, 2015.) Accordingly, the Court entered default judgment against Marianina on Plaintiff's claims. (ECF No. 119.)

         More than nine months after the default judgment was entered and almost a year and a half since the third-party complaint against it was filed, Marianina surfaced for the first time- requesting that the default judgment entered against it be vacated. (See ECF Nos. 166 & 167.) The resulting motion to vacate was fully briefed on February 1, 2017 (ECF No. 192), though Plaintiff has supplemented its opposition by submission dated April 12, 2017. (ECF No. 209.)

         STANDARD ON A MOTION TO VACATE A DEFAULT OR A DEFAULT JUDGMENT

         After the entry of either a default or a default judgment, [1] the defaulting party may seek to have such an entry set aside. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(c) & 60(b); New York v. Green, 420 F.3d 99, 104 (2d Cir. 2005) (“if a judgment has entered on the default, the court is authorized to set the judgment aside in accordance with the provisions of Rule 60(b)”). A court “may set aside an entry of default for good cause[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(c). As for a default judgment, “a district court may vacate a judgment for any of the [] reasons” enumerated in Rule 60(b):

(1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect; (2) newly discovered evidence . . .; (3) fraud . . ., misrepresentation, or other misconduct of an adverse party; (4) the judgment is void; (5) the judgment has been satisfied, released, or discharged, or a prior judgment upon which it is based has been reversed or otherwise vacated, or it is no longer equitable that the judgment should have prospective application; or (6) any other reason justifying relief from the operation of the judgment.

Green, 420 F.3d at 104 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)). Since “a default judgment is ‘the most severe sanction which the court may apply, '” when “ruling on a motion to vacate a default judgment, all doubts must be resolved in favor of the party seeking relief from the judgment in order to ensure that to the extent possible, disputes are resolved on their merits.” Id. In weighing the relevant considerations, it is the Court's duty to “provide specific reasons for a denial of a motion to set aside a default” of either variety. See Enron Oil Corp. v. Diakuhara, 10 F.3d 90, 97 (2d Cir. 1993).

         “[T]he standard for setting aside the entry of a default pursuant to Rule 55(c) is less rigorous than the ‘excusable neglect' standard for setting aside a default judgment by motion pursuant to Rule 60(b).” Meehan v. Snow, 652 F.2d 274, 276 (2d Cir. 1981). The considerations, however, are the same under both rules: “whether the default was willful, whether setting it aside would prejudice the adversary, and whether a meritorious defense is presented.” Id. at 277 (Rule 55(c)); see Green, 420 F.3d at 108 (“We have often emphasized that . . . the court's determination [of a Rule 60(b) motion] must be guided by three principal factors: ‘(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.'”). In egregious cases, “there is no practical difference” between applying Rule 55(c) or 60(b). See Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers Local 2, Albany, N.Y. Pension Fund v. Moulton Masonry & Const., LLC, 779 F.3d 182, 186 n.1 (2d Cir. 2015).

         With regard to default judgments specifically, “Rule 60(b)(1) [] permits courts to reopen judgments . . . only on motion made within one year of the judgment, ” while “Rule 60(b)(6) goes further [] and empowers the court to reopen a judgment even after one year has passed . . . .” Pioneer Inv. Servs. Co. v. Brunswick Assocs. Ltd. P'ship, 507 U.S. 380, 393 (1993). The provisions, however, are “mutually exclusive, and thus a party who failed to take timely action due to ‘excusable neglect' may not seek relief more than a year after the judgment by resorting to subsection (6).” Id. (citation omitted); see also Ungar v. Palestine ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.