United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division
BUILDER SERVICES GROUP, INC. a/b/a GALE CONTRACTOR SERVICES, Plaintiff,
FOSTER INSULATION AND PRODUCTS, LLC, and RICHARD L. QUARLES, JR., Defendants.
WILLIAM T. MOORE, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment.
(Doc. 29.) In its motion, Plaintiff Builder Services Group,
Inc. ("BGS") requests that this Court enter default
judgment with respect to Defendant Richard Quarles. Jr.
because he has failed to file any responsive pleadings in
this case. (Id.) In response to Plaintiff's
motion, Defendant Quarles, appearing pro se, has filed a
Request to Remove Default Judgment (Doc. 31), which this
Court liberally construes as a motion to set aside default.
After careful consideration, Defendant's motion to set
aside default (Doc. 31) is GRANTED.
Accordingly, the Clerk is DIRECTED to set
aside default with respect to Defendant Quarles.
Plaintiff's motion (Doc. 29) is DISMISSED AS
filing, Defendant Quarles details the circumstances of his
employment with Plaintiff BSG and Foster Insulation and
Products, LLC ("Foster"), his financial status, and
confusion about the status of this action. (Doc. 31.) As for
his lack of response to this action, Defendant Quarles
alleges that he received various notices about this case, but
mistakenly assumed that the case was dismissed after this
Court dismissed Defendant Foster from this action.
(Id. at 2.) He purports that he is unable to afford
a lawyer to represent him in this case and that he is
"at a loss as to what to do next or how to even defend
aside an entry of default, this Court must consider whether
Defendant Quarles has established "good cause."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(c); see also Sealey v. Branch Banking and
Tr. Co., 2:17cv785-MHT-SMD, 2019 WL 1434065, at *1 (N.D.
Ala. Feb. 21, 2019) ("After the clerk enters default,
but before entry of default judgment, the court may exercise
its discretion to set aside an entry of default for good
cause." (internal quotation omitted)). Courts
considering whether a party has demonstrated good cause have
noted that the good cause standard is a "liberal
one" and often "var[ies] from situation to
situation." Compania Interamericana Export-Import,
S.A. v. Compania Dominicana de Aviacion, 88 F.3d 948,
951 (11th Cir. 1996). Under this discretionary standard,
consider whether the default was culpable or willful, whether
setting it aside would prejudice the non-moving party, and
whether the defaulting party may have a meritorious defense.
Depending on the circumstances, courts have also considered
factors such as whether the public interest was implicated,
whether there was significant financial loss to the
defaulting party, and whether the defaulting party acted
promptly to correct the default.
Perez v. Wells Fargo N.A., 774 F.3d 1329, 1337 n.7
(11th Cir. 2014) (internal citations and quotations omitted).
case, the Court finds that Defendant Quarles's lack of
response was not the result of a willful strategy or culpable
behavior. In his filing, Defendant Quarles expresses a
certain amount of confusion about the law, this action, and
his duty to respond to Plaintiff's pleading. (Doc. 31.)
Although Defendant's alleged ignorance of the law is no
excuse, this Court, like many others, has a strong preference
for deciding cases on the merits. See, e.g.,
Perez, 774 F.3d at 1332 ("[W]e have a strong
preference for deciding cases on the merits-not based on a
single missed deadline-whenever reasonably possible.");
Home Builders Surplus, LLC v. Asalone, 2013
WL 12063933, at *1 (N.D.Ga. Jan. 18, 2013) ("Defaults
are not favored and are reserved for rare occasions.");
Deforest v. Johnny Chisholm Glob. Events,
LLC, 3:08CV498/MCR/EMT, 2010 WL 1792094, at *9 (N.D.
Fla. May 4, 2010) (denying a party's request for an entry
of default judgment and discussing the Eleventh Circuit's
policy to view defaults in disfavor}. Accordingly, the Court
will give Defendant Quarles the benefit of the doubt and
allow him to participate in these proceedings. As a result,
Defendant's motion (Doc. 31) is GRANTED
and the Clerk is DIRECTED to set aside the
entry of default (Doc. 22) . Because this Court has directed
the Clerk to set aside default in this case, Plaintiff's
motion (Doc. 29) is DIMISSED AS MOOT.
this Court has directed the clerk to set aside default in
this case, Defendant Quarles is put on notice that his pro se
status is no excuse to avoid this action or the rules of the
Court. See Tara Prods., Inc. v. Hollywood Gadgets,
Inc., 449 Fed.Appx. 908, 910 (11th Cir. 2011) (providing
that "[w]hile the filings of a pro se party are held
'to less stringent standards than formal pleadings
drafted by lawyers,' a pro se litigant is not
exempt" from complying with the court's rules"
(quoting Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520. 92
S.Ct. 594, 30 L.Ed.2d 652 (1972))). Accordingly, Defendant
Quarles is DIRECTED that he must provide a
responsive pleading in this action within ...