United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
MILTON YOUNGE JUDGE.
the Court is Plaintiff Mary Jo Chudley's
(“Plaintiff”) Motion for Default Judgment
(“Motion, ” ECF No. 5) against Defendants Cynthia
Matossian, MD, PA and Matossian Eye Associates (collectively,
“Defendants”). The Court finds this matter
appropriate for resolution without oral argument.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 78; L.R. 7.1(f). For the reasons that follow,
Plaintiff's Motion will be denied without prejudice.
FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
August 26, 2019, Plaintiff filed her Complaint against
Defendants, seeking to recover damages under the Americans
with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §
12101 et seq., and 42 U.S.C. § 1981a; the
Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), 29 U.S.C.
§ 2601 et seq.; and the Pennsylvania Human
Relations Act (“PHRA”), 43 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann.
§ 951 et seq. (“Compl., ” ECF No.
1.) In her Complaint, Plaintiff alleges she was an employee
of Matossian Eye Associates, and that she began work as an
Ophthalmic Associate on January 10, 2016. (Id.
¶ 7.) When Plaintiff “started [working for
Matossian Eye Associates] she told Cynthia Matossian that she
had a bad right knee and degenerative disc disease.”
(Id. ¶ 8.) Plaintiff also suffered from
obesity. (Id. ¶ 10.)
or about June 2017[, Plaintiff] requested the opportunity to
scribe.” (Id. ¶ 12.) “Cynthia
Matossian initially told [Plaintiff] that she didn't
think [Plaintiff] would be able to scribe due to her weight
and knee.” (Id. ¶ 13.)
“Nevertheless, at [Plaintiff's] insistence she was
given the opportunity to scribe and then assigned to the most
demanding doctor.” (Id. ¶ 14.)
told the office manager, Jodi Nini, “that she was
getting shots in her right knee every three months” and
“also discussed her plan to have a gastric bypass
[surgery.]” (Id. ¶¶ 15-17.) Bypass
surgery was scheduled for February 14, 2018, and “Nini
initially told [Plaintiff] that she could not have off for
the surgery and it wasn't until two weeks prior to the
surgery that [Plaintiff] found out her request for time off
for the surgery was approved.” (Id.
¶¶ 22-23.) After the surgery, Plaintiff kept in
touch with Nini. (Id. ¶ 24.)
April 12, 2018[, Plaintiff] received an email from Nini
informing her, for the first time, that she would need a note
indicating that she was able to return to work without any
restrictions, before she would be allowed to return to
work.” (Id. ¶ 25.) Plaintiff responded to
the email asking for clarification. (Id. ¶ 26.)
In response, Plaintiff “received an email from Nini on
May 18, 2018 alleging that [Plaintiff] did not respond to
Nini's April 12, 2018 and May 1, 2018 emails and that
Defendants were treating it as a voluntary
resignation.” (Id. ¶ 27.) Plaintiff then
responded to Nini asserting that she did in fact respond to
the April 12, 2018 email, and did not see the May 1, 2018
email. (Id. ¶ 28.)
May 21, 2018[, Plaintiff] received [medical] clearance to
return to work” and Plaintiff “immediately
informed Nini.” (Id. ¶¶ 29-30.) On
May 28, 2018, Nini responded to Plaintiff, “stating
that Defendants no longer have a position for her.”
(Id. ¶ 31.) Plaintiff, however, alleges that
“there were open position[s] for which [Plaintiff] was
qualified.” (Id. ¶ 32.)
maintains in her Complaint that the conduct of Defendants,
including their refusal to allow Plaintiff to return to work
with or without restrictions, their refusal to allow
Plaintiff to return to work after medical leave, and their
informing Plaintiff that there were no open positions for her
when open positions existed, constitutes unlawful
discrimination in violation of the ADA, PHRA, and FMLA.
(Id. ¶¶ 40, 45, 51.) Plaintiff exhausted
her administrative remedies, and the EEOC issued a probable
cause determination on or about April 17, 2019. (Id.
September 10, 2019, Defendants were both personally served at
501 Hyde Park, Doylestown, Pennsylvania (ECF No. 2 at 1, 4),
Defendants' principal place of business (Compl.
¶¶ 2-3). Thereafter, neither Defendant filed an
Answer to the Complaint. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
12(a)(1)(A)(i) (“A defendant must serve an answer 
within 21 days after being served with the summons and
complaint[.]”). On October 2, 2019, Plaintiff filed a
Request for Entry of Default, asking the Clerk of Court to
enter default against Defendants pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 55(a). (ECF No. 4.) The Clerk entered default
on October 2, 2019. On October 16, 2019, Plaintiff filed the
instant Motion for Default Judgment. The Court notes that no
opposition has been filed, and that the time within which to
file an opposition has expired. See L.R. 7.1(c)
([A]ny party opposing the motion shall serve a brief in
opposition . . . within fourteen (14) days after service of
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, ” this discretion is
not limitless given that cases should “be disposed of
on the merits whenever practicable.” Hritz v. Woma
Corp., 732 F.2d 1178, 1180-81 (3d Cir. 1984); see
also Hill v. Williamsport Police Dep't, 69 Fed.Appx.
49, 51 (3d Cir. 2003) (“Our Court does not favor entry
of defaults or default judgments . . . as it prefers
adjudication on the merits.”). “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 (3d Cir. 2005) (quoting
Comdyne I, Inc. v. Corbin, 908 F.2d 1142, 1149 (3d
Cir. 1990)). “The court's initial inquiry is
‘whether the unchallenged facts constitute a legitimate
cause of action[.]'” Joe Hand Promotions, Inc.
v. Yakubets, 3 F.Supp.3d 261, 270 (E.D. Pa. 2014)
(quoting 10A Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller,
Federal Practice and Procedure § 2688 (3d ed.
2013)); accord Pope v. United States, 323 U.S. 1, 12
(1944) (“[U]pon default, . . . the court determines
that the unchallenged facts shown of record establish a
legally binding obligation; it adjudicates the
plaintiff's right of recovery and the extent of it, both
of which are essential elements of judgment.”); see
also, e.g., Schall v. Ronak Foods, No. 19-1463, 2019 WL
4034765, at *2 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 27, 2019) (denying default
judgment because plaintiff failed to allege facts in
complaint to support ADA claim); Liberty Bell Equipment
Corp. v. Coastal Tool Supply, LLC, No. 18-3019,
2018 WL 5885455, at *2-3 (E.D. Pa. Nov. 9, 2018) (denying
default judgment because plaintiff failed to allege facts in
complaint to support breach of contract claim); Tri-State
Training & Safety Consulting, LLC v. Markawicz, No.
15-876, 2015 WL 5116754, at *3-4 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 28, 2015)
(denying default judgment in part because plaintiff failed to
allege facts in complaint to support claims for copyright
infringement, tortious interference, and unfair trade
practices); Frenkel v. Baker, No. 13-5880, 2014 WL
5697449, at *5-7 (E.D. Pa. Nov. 4, 2014) (denying default
judgment because plaintiff failed to allege facts in
complaint to support claims for conversion and fraud);
Jimenez v. Rosenbaum-Cunningham, Inc., No. 7-1066,
2010 WL 1303449, at *4 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 31, 2010)
(“Before awarding a default judgment, the [c]ourt must
determine whether the moving party's complaint
establishes a legitimate cause of action.”).
court determines that the plaintiff has sufficiently stated a
cause of action, it must then assess damages. As noted above,
unless damages are “liquidated or computable, ”
they “cannot be awarded simply on the basis of the
pleadings, but must instead be established at an evidentiary
hearing[, ]” Comdyne I, 908 F.2d at 1152, or