In re Justice (Case No. 04-12768, A.P. No. 05-01010)

The Plaintiff’s filed a complaint against the Debtor/Defendant alleging the conversion of property used as collateral for a security agreement. The Debtor/Defendant failed to answer the complaint due to a clerical mistake. A clerk’s entry of default was entered in accordance with Fed. R. Bankr. P. 7055(a). Less than a week later, the Debtor/Defendant filed a motion to open the default, as well as a late filed answer to the complaint. The "good cause" standard of Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(c) governs whether a clerk’s entry of default should be set aside. The four factor test is (1) whether the defaulting party took prompt action to vacate the default; (2) whether the defaulting party provides a plausible excuse for the default; (3) whether the defaulting party presents a meritorious defense; and (4) whether the party not in default will be prejudiced if the default is set aside. Turner Broadcasting Systems, Inc. v. Sanyo Electric, Inc., 33 B.R. 996, 1001 (N.D. Ga. 1983), aff’d, 742 F.2d 1465 (11th Cir. 1984). In this case, the Debtor/Defendant failed to show a meritorious defense. Therefore, the entry of default was granted as to liability.

Thursday, August 4, 2005