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Carroll v. County of San Diego

United States District Court, S.D. California

August 21, 2014

ABONILICO LAMAR CARROLL, CDCR #E-54374, Inmate Booking No. 12584822, Plaintiff,
v.
COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO; WILLIAM D. GORE, Sheriff for the County of San Diego; Sheriff's Deputy Sergeant CARSON; Sheriff's Deputy FLORES; Sheriff's Deputy GARCIA; Sheriff's Deputy PRICE; Sheriff's Deputy WHITE, individually and their official capacities; and DOES 1-50, inclusive, Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING. DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO SET ASIDE ENTRY OF DEFAULT (ECF No. 36)

JANIS L. SAMMARTINO, District Judge.

Presently before the Court is Defendants County of San Diego ("the County"), William D. Gore ("Gore"), Sheriff's Deputy Sergeant Carson ("Carson"), Sheriff's Deputy Flores ("Flores"), Sheriff's Deputy Garcia ("Garcia"), Sheriff's Deputy Price ("Price"), and Sheriff's Deputy White's ("White, " and collectively, "Defendants") Motion to Set Aside Entry of Default (ECF No. 36), as well as Abolinico Lamar Carroll's ("Plaintiff") Response in Opposition to (ECF No. 38) and Defendants' Reply in Support of (ECF No. 41) the Motion. The Court vacated the hearing scheduled for June 26, 2014 and took the matter under submission without oral argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1(d)(1). (ECF No. 40.) Having considered the parties' arguments and the law, the Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion to Set Aside Entry of Default.

BACKGROUND

On May 29, 2013, Plaintiff, at the time a pro se prisoner, concurrently filed his Complaint and a motion to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP"). (ECF Nos. 1, 2.) The Court denied Plaintiff's IFP motion and consequently dismissed the case without prejudice. (ECF No. 3.) On June 28, 2013, Plaintiff filed a revised motion to proceed IFP. (ECF No. 4.) On September 20, 2013, the Court granted Plaintiff's motion but dismissed his Complaint for failure to state a claim. (ECF No. 5.)

On November 5, 2013, Plaintiff obtained counsel. (ECF No. 13.) Plaintiff then filed his First Amended Complaint ("FAC") on January 3, 2014. (ECF No. 18.) On January 7, 2014, Plaintiff filed an ex parte motion to direct the U.S. Marshal to serve Defendants, and, on January 15, 2014, the Court granted the motion. (ECF Nos. 20, 21.) On January 22, 2014, summonses for each defendant were returned executed. (ECF Nos. 23-29.)

Also on January 22, 2014, Plaintiff filed a motion to amend his FAC. (ECF No. 30.) The Court granted the motion on February 7, 2014. (ECF No. 31.) Subsequently, on February 18, 2014, Plaintiff filed his Second Amended Complaint ("SAC"). (ECF No. 32.) On March 31, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Certificate of Service purportedly proving that Carson, Flores, Garcia, Gore, Price, and White had been served with the SAC by mail on February 27, 2014. (ECF No. 33.) Plaintiff allegedly served the County via an e-mail sent to the County's counsel. (Resp. in Opp'n 17, ECF No. 38.)

On May 6, 2014, Plaintiff requested an entry of default against Defendants, which the Clerk of the Court entered on May 7, 2014. (ECF Nos. 34, 35.) Subsequently, on May 29, 2014, Defendants filed the present Motion.

LEGAL STANDARD

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(c), "[t]he court may set aside an entry of default for good cause." Courts have broad discretion in deciding whether to vacate an entry of default. Mendoza v. Wight Vineyard Mgmt., 783 F.2d 941, 945 (9th Cir. 1986); Ricotta v. California, 4 F.Supp.2d 961, 988 (S.D. Cal. 1998).

It is the defendant's burden to establish that good cause to vacate the entry of default exists. See TCI Grp. Life Ins. Plan v. Knoebber, 244 F.3d 691, 697 (9th Cir. 2001), overruled in part on other grounds by Egelhoff v. Egelhoff ex rel. Breiner, 532 U.S. 141, 149 (2001). The Ninth Circuit has held that "[t]he good cause' standard that governs vacating an entry of default under Rule 55(c) is the same standard that governs vacating a default judgment under Rule 60(b)." Franchise Holding II, LLC v. Huntington Rests. Grp., Inc., 375 F.3d 922, 925 (9th Cir. 2004) (citing TCI Grp., 244 F.3d at 696). Thus, in assessing good cause, the district court considers three factors:

(1) whether [the defendant] engaged in culpable conduct that led to the default; (2) whether [the defendant] had a meritorious defense; or (3) whether reopening the default judgment would prejudice [the plaintiff]. As these factors are disjunctive, the district court [is] free to deny the motion "if any of the three factors [is] true."

Id. (quoting Am. Ass'n of Naturopathic Physicians v. Hayhurst, 227 F.3d 1104, 1008 (9th Cir. 2000); see also In re Hammer, 940 F.2d 524, 525-526 (9th Cir. 1991) (citing Meadows v. Dominican Republic, 817 F.2d 517, 521 (9th Cir. 1987)).

The court "should apply the factors more liberally" when assessing a motion to set aside an entry of default rather than a motion to set aside default judgment. Page v. Banks, No. 07cv2254 JM(BLM), 2008 WL 2037763, at *2 (S.D. Cal. May 12, 2008) (citing Haw. Carpenters' Trust Funds v. Stone, 794 F.2d 508, 513 (9th Cir. 1986)). Ultimately, there is a strong preference for deciding cases on their merits, and therefore any doubts should be resolved in favor ...


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