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Evans v. County of San Diego

January 8, 2009

TERRY DON EVANS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO; WILLIAM B. KOLENDER, SHERIFF; DR. EARL GOLDSTEIN, COUNTY SHERIFF'S MEDICAL DIRECTOR; BRUCE LEICHT, MEDICAL ADMINISTRATOR, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ruben B. Brooks United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S DECLARATIONS FOR ENTRY OF DEFAULT [DOC. NOS. 70, 74], PLAINTIFF'S APPLICATION FOR ENLARGEMENT OF TIME TO FILE AMENDED PLEADINGS [DOC. NO. 80], AND PLAINTIFF'S APPLICATION FOR LEAVE TO FILE THIRD AMENDED COMPLAINT [DOC. NO. 87]

Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on April 13, 2006 [doc. no. 1]. On September 1, 2006, Evans filed an Amended Complaint [doc. no. 11], and on January 8, 2007, he filed a Second Amended Complaint [doc. no. 18] naming the County of San Diego, William Kolender, and John/Jane Doe #1, Chief Medical Officer, as Defendants. (Second Am. Compl. 2.) The Court ordered the U.S. Marshal to serve the County of San Diego, William Kolender, and John/Jane Doe #1, Chief Medical Officer [doc. no. 21]. Certificates of service of process for each Defendant were filed on February 28, 2007 [doc. nos. 24-26].

The County of San Diego and Kolender filed a Motion to Dismiss [doc. no. 28] on March 19, 2007, which this Court recommended be denied on December 6, 2007 [doc. no. 48]. United States District Judge Jeffrey T. Miller issued his Order Adopting Report and Recommendation on March 27, 2008 [doc. no. 49]. Defendants County of San Diego and Kolender filed an Answer on April 21, 2008 [doc. no. 50].

I. Plaintiff's First Motion for Entry of Default

On September 11, 2008, Evans filed a Declaration for Entry of Default against Defendant John/Jane Doe #1, Chief Medical Officer [doc. no. 70]. Four days later, on September 15, 2008, San Diego County Counsel filed an Answer to Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint on behalf of Defendant Dr. Earl Goldstein [doc. no. 69]. The Court issued an order setting a briefing schedule for Plaintiff's requested default [doc. no. 76]. Defendants' Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Defendants' Opposition to Plaintiff's "Declaration for Entry of Default" was filed on October 27, 2008 [doc. no. 81].

II. Plaintiff's Second Motion for Entry of Default

Evans submitted a Declaration for Entry of Default against Bruce Leicht, Medical Administrator [doc. no. 74], which was filed, nunc pro tunc, to September 23, 2008. An Answer to Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint was filed on behalf of Bruce Leicht on October 2, 2008 [doc. no. 75]. Defendants subsequently filed a Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Defendants' Opposition to Plaintiff's "Declaration for Entry of Default" on November 12, 2008 [doc. no. 85]. Evans's Reply was filed, nunc pro tunc, to November 7, 2008 [doc. no. 89], and its accompanying exhibits were filed on November 24, 2008 [doc. no. 92].

III. Plaintiff's Application for Enlargement of Time to File Amended Pleadings

Evans filed an Application for Enlargement of Time File Amended Pleadings [doc. no. 66] requesting a sixty-day extension of time in order to file a complaint that "conform[s] to evidence or after completion of discovery . . . ." (Pl.'s Application Enlargement Time File Am. Pleadings 2, Aug. 28, 2008.) Defendants did not oppose Plaintiff's request to "join other parties." (Defs.' Non-opp'n 1.) The Court did not find good cause, but, due to Defendants' non-opposition, issued an Order partially granting Plaintiff's request [doc. no. 68]. Evans was allowed to file a motion to join parties, amended pleadings, or file additional pleadings to be heard by October 8, 2008. (Order Granting in Part Pl.'s Mot. Enlargement 1-2.) Plaintiff failed to meet the deadline and instead filed a second Application for Enlargement of Time to File Amended Pleadings nunc pro tunc to October 8, 2008, or, alternatively, requested an extension to November 7, 2008 [doc. no. 80].

IV. Plaintiff's Application for Leave to File a Third Amended Complaint

Evans also filed an Application for Leave to File a Third Amended Complaint nunc pro tunc to November 8, 2008, requesting permission to amend his Complaint to name both Dr. Earl Goldstein and Bruce Leicht as defendants [doc. no. 87].

The Court found Plaintiff's motions to be suitable for decision without oral argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1(d)(1) [doc. no. 94].

A. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

In January 2004, Evans was housed as a pretrial detainee in the San Diego County detention facility in Vista, California. (Second Am. Compl. 3.) Plaintiff slipped and fell while exiting the shower area of a housing unit. (Id.) Evans contends that his right knee and leg were injured, and he suffered severe pain. (Id.)

Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint alleges that Evans's right to adequate and meaningful medical care was violated. (Id.) He named the Chief Medical Officer as a defendant in his individual capacity and described the person as "legally responsible for the management, supervision and medical care [for] all inmates, prisoners and/or detainees [of the] County of San Diego Sheriff Department." (Id. at 2.)

B. DEFAULT

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide, "When a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend, and that failure is shown by affidavit or otherwise, the clerk must enter the party's default." Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(a). Even a default, however, does not automatically entitle a plaintiff to a default judgment. The clerk of the court may enter a default judgment "[if] the plaintiff's claim is for a sum certain or a sum that can be made certain by computation . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b)(1). In all other cases, the party must apply to the court for a default judgment." Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b)(2).

Generally, "[i]f a defendant fails to respond to a complaint, default judgment may be entered on behalf of the plaintiff." Fed. Mar. Comm'n v. S.C. State Ports Auth., 535 U.S. 743, 757 (2002) (citation omitted) (discussing the Federal Maritime Commission Rules of Practice and noting the similarity to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure). But "default judgments are ordinarily disfavored." Eitel v. McCool, 782 F.2d 1470, 1472 (9th Cir. 1986). "Cases should be decided upon their merits whenever reasonably possible." Id. (citing Pena v. ...


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