United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
EDDIE L. COURTNEY, JR. and KREILKAMP TRUCKING, INC., Plaintiffs,
YURIY IVANOV, et al., Defendants.
KIM GIBSON, District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on four related motions, all filed jointly by Defendants Prompt Logistics (Canada) and Prompt Logistics (USA) (collectively, "Prompt Logistics"): (1) a motion for extension of time to file an answer (ECF No. 28); (2) a motion to set aside default as to Prompt Logistics (USA) (ECF No. 30); (3) a motion to set aside default as to Prompt Logistics (Canada) (ECF No. 34); and (4) a motion for leave to file a reply (ECF No. 46). Plaintiffs oppose all four motions. ( See ECF Nos. 45, 47). For the reasons that follow, the Court will GRANT both motions to set aside default, GRANT the motion for extension of time to file an answer, and DENY the motion for leave to file a reply.
The Court has diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Venue is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2).
This case arises from personal injuries and property damage sustained when a tractor-trailer, driven by Plaintiff Eddie L. Courtney, Jr., collided with a tractor-trailer driven by Defendant Yuriy Ivanov. Plaintiffs allege the following facts in their complaint.
The Defendants in this case, including Prompt Logistics, operated under certain contracts and agreements to transport and deliver cargo. (ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 17-19). On August 2, 2012, Defendant Ivanov was driving a tractor-trailer on Interstate 80. ( Id. ¶ 22). Defendant Ivanov stopped the tractor-trailer in the West-bound, right-hand lane of Interstate 80 without warning and without activating any kind of signal device or light. ( Id. ¶¶ 24-25). Plaintiff Courtney, who was also driving his tractor-trailer in the West-bound, right-hand lane of Interstate 80, collided with the rear of Defendant Ivanov's tractor-trailer. ( Id. ¶¶ 21, 26). As a result of the accident, Plaintiff Courtney sustained personal injuries and his tractor-trailer, owned by Plaintiff Kreilkamp Trucking Inc., sustained property damage. ( Id. ¶¶ 31-39).
Plaintiffs filed an eleven-count complaint (ECF No. 1) against Defendants on September 27, 2013. The complaint asserts the following claims against the Prompt Logistics Defendants: negligent hiring (Count V); negligent entrustment (Count VI); negligence/restatement (Second) of Torts, § 428 (Count VII); joint venture liability (Count VIII); vicarious liability/respondeat superior (Count IX); and damages caused by violations of Motor Carrier Act/federal motor carrier safety rules (Count X).
On December 30, 2013, the Clerk of Court issued a summons to both Prompt Logistics Defendants. (ECF No. 15). Service was perfected as to Prompt Logistics (USA) on January 9, 2014 ( see ECF No. 22), and as to Prompt Logistics (Canada) on January 15, 2014 ( see ECF No. 27). On February 17, 2014, Plaintiffs filed a request for entry of Default against Prompt Logistics (USA) (ECF No. 23) and a request for entry of Default against Prompt Logistics (Canada) (ECF No. 24). The Clerk entered default as to Prompt Logistics (USA) on February 18, 2014, (ECF No. 26), and as to Prompt Logistics (Canada) on February 21, 2014 (ECF No. 33).
On February 20, 2014, Prompt Logistics filed a motion for extension of time to file an answer or otherwise plead (ECF No. 28). Prompt Logistics also filed a motion to set aside default as to Prompt Logistics (USA) on February 20, 2014, (ECF No. 30), and a motion to set aside default as to Prompt Logistics (Canada) on February 24, 2014 (ECF No. 34). Prompt Logistics filed briefs in support of each motion (ECF Nos. 29, 31, 35). On March 13, 2014, Plaintiffs filed a brief in opposition to the motions (ECF Nos. 45), after which Prompt Logistics filed a motion for leave to file a reply (ECF No. 46), which Plaintiffs oppose (ECF No. 47). These motions are now ripe for adjudication.
IV. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Under Rule 55(c), a court may set aside an entry of default for good cause. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(c). The Third Circuit has identified four factors a district court must consider when deciding whether to set aside a default: (1) whether setting aside the default would prejudice the plaintiff; (2) whether the defendant has a meritorious defense; (3) whether the default was the result of the defendant's culpable conduct; and (4) whether lesser sanctions would better serve the interests of justice. World Entm't Inc. v. Brown, 487 F.Appx. 758, 761 (3d Cir. 2012); United States v. $55, 518.05 in United States Currency, 728 F.2d 192, 195 (3d Cir. 1984); Emcasco Ins. Co. v. Sambrick, 834 F.2d 71, 73 (3d Cir. 1987).
The decision to set aside an entry of default is within the discretion of the district court. Bailey v. United Airlines, 279 F.3d 194, 204 (3d Cir. 2002). Generally, the entry of default is disfavored because it prevents the claims from being decided on the merits. Scholz Design, Inc. v. Costa, No. 2:10-cv-1640, 2011 WL 635277, at *2 (W.D. Pa. Feb. 11, 2011) (citations omitted). Likewise, the Third Circuit has instructed that courts must liberally construe a motion to set aside an entry of default with an eye toward resolving ...