United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
D. Mariani United States District Judge
Introduction and Procedural
Presently before the Court is the United States' Motion
for Default Judgment Against Defendant Dentalcrafts Masters,
LLC (Doc. 15). For the reasons discussed below, the Court
will grant the United States' motion.
19, 2016, Plaintiff, the United States of America, filed a
Complaint naming as Defendants Christian F. Santana, Oriza
Dotel, Christian L. Santana, the Pennsylvania Department of
Revenue, the Municipal Authority of Hazle Township, and
Dentalcrafts Masters, LLC. (Doc. 1). The civil action was
filed "to collect the federal income tax assessments
made against Christian F. Santana and Oriza Dotel and the
civil penalty assessments made against Christian F. Santana;
to obtain a judicial determination that Christian L. Santana
is the nominee, alter ego, or transferee of Christian F.
Santana; and to enforce the tax liens of the United States
against real property located at 1024 Peace Street, Hazle
Township, Pennsylvania 18202 (the 'Real
Property')." (Doc. 1, at2). The Complaint contains three
counts: Reduce Federal Income Tax Assessments to Judgment
(Count I); Reduce Civil Penalty Assessments to Judgment
(Count II); and Foreclosure of the Federal Tax Liens Against
the Real Property (Count III). (See generally, Doc.
record demonstrates that summons were returned executed as to
each defendant, with the exception of the Pennsylvania
Department of Revenue (Docs. 5-9), but no attorney has
entered an appearance on behalf of any defendant nor has any
defendant filed a pleading or performed any other action to
otherwise defend the case. Thus, on November 1, 2016,
Plaintiff filed a Request to Enter Default Pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a) against Christian F. Santana, Oriza Dotel,
Christian L. Santana, and Dentalcrafts Masters, LLC (Doc.
10). The Clerk of Court entered default against these
defendants on November 14, 2016. (Doc. 11).
Clerk of Court having entered default, the United States
filed a Motion for Default Judgment Against Defendant
Dentalcrafts Masters, LLC (hereinafter
"Dentalcrafts") on March 23, 2017 pursuant to
Standard of Review
to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, "[w]hen a party
against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has
failed to plead or otherwise defend, and that failure is
shown by affidavit or otherwise, the clerk must enter the
party's default". Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). Upon the
party's request, the clerk of court may then enter
default judgment, but only if the claim is for a sum certain
or one that can be made certain by computation, the defendant
has made no appearance, and the defendant is not a minor or
incompetent. Id. at 55(b)(1). In all other cases,
the party seeking a default judgment must make an application
to the court. Id. at 55(b)(2).
the entry of default judgment is "left primarily to the
discretion of the district court", the discretion is not
limitless given that cases should "be disposed of on the
merits whenever practicable." Hritz v. Woma
Corp., 732 F.2d 1178, 1180-1181 (3d Cir. 1984).
"Where a court enters a default judgment, 'the
factual allegations of the complaint, except those relating
to the amount of damages, will be taken as true."'
DIRECTV, Inc. v. Pepe, 431 F.3d 162, 165 n. 6
(quoting Comdyne I, Inc. v. Corbin, 908 F.2d 1142,
1149 (3d Cir. 1990)).
determining whether to grant a motion for default judgment, a
Court must consider three factors: "(1) prejudice to the
plaintiff if default is denied, (2) whether the defendant
appears to have a litigable defense, and (3) whether
defendant's delay is due to culpable conduct."
Chamberlain v. Giampapa, 210 F.3d 154, 164 (3d Cir.
2000) (citing United States v. $55, 518.05 in
U.S. Currency, 728 F.2d 192, 195 (3d Cir. 1984)).
the Motion for Default Judgment by the United States and its
Memorandum in Support of its Motion (Docs. 15, 16) do not set
forth the standard for default judgment or apply that
standard to the facts concerning Defendant Dentalcrafts, the
United States has, nevertheless, satisfied all of the
requirements necessary to obtain a default judgment against
the record demonstrates that Defendant Dentalcrafts was
personally served on July 22, 2016. (Doc. 9). Since that
time, Defendant has failed to file any pleading or perform
any other action to otherwise defend the case. The Clerk of
Court entered default against this defendant on November 14,
2016. (Doc. 11).
respect to the prejudice to the United States if default is
denied, this factor weighs in favor of the Government. Absent
the default judgment, the United States will be faced with an
indefinite delay in the adjudication of its claims, and
uncertainty as to what (if anything), and when (if at all),
Dentalcrafts may assert with respect to a possible interest
in the Real Property. The United States is further left with
no alternative means to assert its claim against the
defaulting party and ensure that Dentalcrafts will not later
attempt to assert an interest in the Real Property. As the
government seeks to enforce its tax liens against the Real
Property, for which Dentalcrafts may ...