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Chief Judge Gregory M. Sleet: Motion to Set Aside Default Judgment Denied

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A defendant cannot complain to have a default judgment set aside where plaintiff would be prejudiced, there is no meritorious defense and their conduct in defaulting was culpable. Amazon.com, Inc. v. Citi Services, Inc., Citi Services, Ltd., Theochari and Smith, C.A. No. 99-543-GMS, Memorandum (D. Del. Nov. 21, 2008). In this case, plaintiff brought suit against the defendants for trademark and copyright infringement, unfair competition and dilution. Id. The defendants moved to dismiss the complaint and prior to the completion of briefing on that issue, defense counsel moved to withdraw. Id. at 2. The court granted the motion to withdraw and ordered the defendants to obtain new counsel and respond to outstanding discovery or expose themselves to the possibility of a default judgment being entered against them. Id. After multiple orders reminding the defendants of their obligation to respond and to attend a conference with the Court, the Court entered default judgment against all defendants including an award of monetary and injunctive damages to the plaintiff. Id. at 3. Over six years later, the individual defendants (Smith and Theochari) moved to set aside the default judgment and order.
The Court declined to set aside the judgment. In his decision, Judge Sleet found that lifting the default judgment would be extremely prejudicial to the plaintiff whose judgment would be at risk and would have to re-litigate its claims. Furthermore, the lapse of over six years would impact the evidence and witnesses available to plaintiff to prove their case and there may be additional issues regarding the statute of limitations among others. Id. at 5. The defendants failed to show a meritorious defense because the Court previously entered an order denying defendants’ motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. Id. at 6. Finally, defendants’ “repeated failure to respond to discovery request and the court’s order to secure new counsel” demonstrates their culpability. Id.

Amazon.com, Inc. v. Citi Services, Inc., Citi Services, Ltd., Theochari and Smith, C.A. No. 99-543-GMS, Memorandum (D. Del. Nov. 21, 2008).

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