UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
April 23, 2010
CARLOTTA OGUNDIMO, PLAINTIFF,
STEADFAST PROPERTY & DEVELOPMENT, ET AL, DEFENDANT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Oliver W. Wanger United States District Judge
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT (Doc. 92)
On February 26, 2010, Plaintiff Carlotta Ogundimo moved for default judgment against Defendant Steadfast Park West, L.P.*fn1
According to Plaintiff, default judgment is appropriate because Steadfast failed to submit certain documentation to Plaintiff by February 17, 2010:
2010 Preliminary Injunction
ALL DOCUMENTS due to the Plaintiffs the Defendants by February to SUBMIT 2010 [...] 17, Defendants papers but Plaintiff argued that was Plaintiff not ordered did not the send them
Defendants any papers. the by court to give Defendants Work
Orders the council If papers them from his client himself. [sic] could have are gotten
Therefore, to have followed it leaves Judges no excuse Order for the Defendant not Plaintiffs move the court for a of default the Court. against Defendants Steadfast. judgment (Doc. 92, pg. 1) (emphasis in original).
Plaintiff's document is properly considered as a motion for default judgment brought pursuant to Rule 55 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Plaintiff Carlotta Ogundimo is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with an action for damages and other relief concerning alleged civil rights violations. According to the complaint, filed February 5, 2009, Plaintiff and her minor children, who reside at 2655 West Alamos, Unit 118, Fresno, California, suffered housing discrimination in violation of the Fair Housing Act ("FHA").
On February 26, 2010, Plaintiff filed a document entitled "Plaintiff's Motion To Move For Default Judgment Against Defendants." (Doc. 92.) Plaintiff seeks default judgment on grounds that Steadfast disobeyed a Court order requiring it to submit work orders and other documentation to Plaintiff by February 17, 2010.
To obtain a default judgment under Rule 55 of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a party must follow a sequential two-step process:
(1) obtain entry of default from the Clerk of the Court pursuant to Rule 55(a); and (2) move the Court for a default judgment in accordance with Rule 55(b). See Eitel v. McCool, 782 F.2d 1470, 1471 (9th Cir. 1986) (discussing this two-step process). Rule 55(a) states that "[w]hen a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend [...] the clerk must enter the party's default." Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(a). Default judgment is generally disfavored, and a court should, whenever possible, decide a case on the merits. Cmty. Dental Serv. v. Tani, 282 F.3d 1164, 1170 (9th Cir. 2002).
Plaintiff filed her motion for entry of default after Defendant filed its Answer, which was filed on June 19, 2009. (Doc. 31.) Defendant did not fail to plead, and therefore, Plaintiff's subsequent motion default judgment is improper. Moreover, Plaintiff did not comply with the procedural requirements laid out in Rule 55. Plaintiff failed to seek entry of default from the Clerk of Court prior to moving for a default judgment. Rather, Plaintiff asks the Court to enter default judgment against Defendant Steadfast. However, this is not the process detailed in Rule 55. A default or default judgment under these circumstances is inappropriate and outside the scope of the federal rules of civil procedure. For these reasons, Plaintiff's motion is DENIED.
For the reasons stated:
(1) Plaintiff Carlotta Ogundimo's motion for default judgment against Defendant Steadfast Park West, L.P., is DENIED.
IT IS SO ORDERED.