United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
D. Mariani United States District Judge
Introduction and Procedural History
before the Court is the United States' Motion for Default
Judgment as to Counts I and II (Doc. 13). For the reasons
discussed below, the Court will grant the United States'
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, at 2). 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 as to Counts I and II on
February 15, 2017 pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2).
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)).
The Entry of Default Judgment
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 United States moves for the entry of judgment as to Count
I against Christian F. Santana and Oriza Dotel and as to
Count II against Christian F. Santana. (Doc. 13, at 1).
Therefore, the Court will limit its analysis to these two
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, and possibly permanent, delay in the adjudication
of its claims and is left ...