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United States v. Geertgens

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

July 23, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Plaintiff
v.
CHARLES E. GEERTGENS, a/k/a CHARLES GEERTGENS, a/k/a CHARLES EDWIN GEERTGENS; and SHAWNA P. GEERTGENS, a/k/a SHAWNA GEERTGENS, a/k/a SHAWNA PRYSCILLA GEERTGENS Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Robert D. Mariani United States District Judge

         I. Introduction and Procedural History

         Presently before the Court is the United States' Motion for Default Judgment (Doc. 7). For the reasons set forth herein, the Court will grant the United States' motion.

         On July 25, 2018, Plaintiff, the United States of America, on behalf of its Agency, the Rural Housing Service, filed a Complaint against Charles Geertgens and Shawna Geertgens seeking mortgage foreclosure of property located at 86 Toad Hollow Road, Montrose, PA 18801.

         An Affidavit of Service filed of record demonstrates that service was effected on Defendants Charles Geertgens and Shawna Geertgens on September 21, 2018. (Doc. 5). However, no attorney has entered an appearance on behalf of either defendant nor has any defendant filed a pleading or performed any other action to otherwise defend the case. Thus, on November 6, 2018, the United States filed a Request for Entry of Default, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a), against Defendants (Doc. 6). The Clerk of Court entered default against both defendants on November 7, 2018. (Doc. 10). Simultaneously with the filing of the Request for Entry of Default, the United States filed a Motion for Default Judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2) (Doc. 7).

         II. Standard of Review

         Pursuant 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).

         Although 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)).

         III. Background

         The well-pleaded factual allegations of the Complaint, which the Court takes as true, see DIRECTV, 431 F.3d at 165 n. 6, are set forth below.

         On or about August 3, 2010, the United States of America, acting through the Under Secretary of Rural Development, on behalf of the Rural Housing Service, United States Department of Agriculture, loaned Charles Geertgens and Shawna Geertgens $84, 300.00 pursuant to the provisions of Title V of the Housing Act of 1949, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 1471, et seq. (Doc. 1, at ¶ 3).

         As evidence of the indebtedness, the Defendants executed and delivered to the United States a Promissory Note dated August 3, 2010 in the amount of $84, 300.00. (Id. at ¶ 4). Defendants, for the purpose of securing the Plaintiff against loss, also executed and acknowledged a Real Estate Mortgage which granted and conveyed, and mortgaged to Plaintiff, the real property described in the Mortgage at 86 Toad Hollow Road, Montrose, PA 18801. The Real Estate Mortgage was recorded on August 4, 2010, with the Office of the Recorder of Deeds, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, in Instrument Number 201012577. (/cf. at ¶¶ 5, 7).

         Plaintiff is the owner and holder of the Note and Mortgage, neither of which have been assigned. (Id. at ¶ 6).

         The United States asserts that the Note and Mortgage are in default as the Defendants "have failed or refused to comply with the provisions of the Note and Mortgage, as follows: (a) failed or refused to pay the installments of principal and interest when due; (b) failed or refused to pay real estate taxes when due; and (c) failed to maintain the security of the Property." (Id. at ΒΆ 8). The Complaint therefore states that "[d]ue to the breaches of the provisions and conditions of the Note and Mortgage, the Plaintiff elects to ...


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