United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE
M. BORDEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the court is Plaintiffs Motion for Default Judgment filed on
August 25, 2017. Doc. 19. For the reasons that follow, it is
the Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge that Plaintiffs
motion be denied.
Motion for Default Judgment, Plaintiff asserts that
Defendants have failed to answer his Bivens-type
complaint in which he alleges that officers with the
U.S. Marshals Service used excessive force against him during
his arrest in Eufaula, Alabama, in April 2016. Doc. 19. In
his Motion for Default Judgment, as in his complaint,
Plaintiff requests a judgment by the court awarding
compensatory and punitive damages and “a jury trial on
all issues triable by a jury.” Doc. 19 at 1.
originally filed his complaint on June 1, 2017, in the United
States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama.
See Doc. 1. That court transferred Plaintiffs case
to the United States District Court for the Middle District
of Alabama, and the case was docketed in this district on
July 14, 2017.
original complaint, Plaintiff stated that he did not know the
identities of the officers who allegedly used excessive force
against him. Consequently, he listed “multiple unknown
officers” among the defendants in his action.
See Doc. 1 at 2. On August 8, 2017, after Plaintiff
was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis, this
court entered an order directing the U.S. Marshals Service to
provide Plaintiff with information by August 25, 2017 to
assist him in determining the names of the officers who
participated in his April 2016 arrest. Doc. 13. However, on
August 24, 2017, this court vacated its August 8, 2017 order.
August 24, 2017, and again on October 12, 2017, this court
entered orders directing Plaintiff to file an amended
complaint specifically identifying the officers who allegedly
used excessive force against him during his April 2016 arrest
and describing how each officer acted to deprive him of his
constitutional rights. See Docs. 17 & 24. Also
on October 12, 2017, the court directed the U.S. Marshals
Service to provide Plaintiff with information by October 27,
2017 to assist him in determining the names of the officers
who participated in his arrest. Doc. 24 at 2. The U.S.
Marshals service complied with the court's directive, and
on November 8, 2017 Plaintiff filed an amended complaint
specifically identifying the officers he alleges to have used
excessive force against him during his April 2016 arrest.
November 14, 2017, the court entered orders directing
Defendants to file a special report and answer by December
29, 2017 addressing all claims in Plaintiffs amended
complaint. Doc. 29. The court advised the parties that
Plaintiffs amended complaint would supersede his original
complaint and that the action would proceed on the claims set
forth by Plaintiff in the amended complaint. See
Doc. 29 at 1.
December 15, 2017, Defendants filed a motion requesting a
45-day enlargement of time to file their special report and
answer. Doc. 31. The court granted that motion and granted
Defendants an extension up to and including February 12, 2018
to file their special report and answer. Doc. 32.
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs default
judgments. Subsection (b)(1) authorizes the entry of a
default judgment by the clerk for a sum that is certain or
that is ascertainable through computation. The court is
allowed by subsection (b)(2) to enter a default judgment upon
application by a party entitled to judgment in an action
where the judgment cannot be entered under subsection (b)(1)
due to the amount of judgment being uncertain without further
decision to enter a default judgment “is discretionary.
. . . Entry of judgment by default is a drastic remedy which
should be used only in extreme situations. . . . [T]he usual
preference [is] that cases be heard on the merits rather than
resorting to sanctions that deprive a litigant of his day in
court.” Wahl v. McIver, 773 F.2d 1169, 1174
(11th Cir. 1985) (citing Flaska v. Little River Marine
Constr. Co., 389 F.2d 885, 887 (5th Cir. 1968);
accord Davis v. Parkhill-Goodloe Co., 302 F.2d 489,
495 (5th Cir. 1962) (“We need only briefly mention that
we concur fully in the trial Judge's refusal to grant the
plaintiff a default judgment. . . . Where there are no
intervening equities any doubt should, as a general
proposition, be resolved in favor of the [defendant] to the
end of securing a trial upon the merits.”).
current posture of this action is that Defendants'
special report and answer are due on or before February 12,
2018. Plaintiff filed his Motion for Default Judgment on
August 25, 2017. When Plaintiff filed his Motion for Default
Judgment, this court had entered no order directing
Defendants to file a special report or answer. After
Plaintiff filed the amended complaint upon which this action
is proceeding, the first order by this court directing
Defendants to file a special report and answer was entered on
November 14, 2017. Under these facts, Plaintiff has advanced
no prejudice that he has suffered from any alleged delay in
this case, nor can the court articulate any prejudice
accruing to him. See McKnight v. Webster, 499
F.Supp. 420, 424 (E.D. Pa. 1980) (denying a motion for
default judgment because no prejudice was suffered by an