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Saunders Outdoor Advertising, Inc. v. Aspen Management, LLC

United States District Court, D. Montana, Butte Division

December 20, 2019

SAUNDERS OUTDOOR ADVERTISING, INC., Plaintiff/Counter Defendant,
v.
ASPEN MANAGEMENT, LLC, and BUTANA SAND AND GRAVEL, LLC, Defendants/Aspen Management, LLC Counter Plaintiff. ASPEN MANAGEMENT, LLC, Third-Party Plaintiff,
v.
SUMMIT VALLEY TITLE COMPANY, a Montana Domestic Profit Corporation, Third-Party Defendant.

          ORDER

          SAM E. HADDON UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.

         BACKGROUND

         Pending before the Court is Defendant Aspen Management, LLC's ("Aspen Management") Motion to Set Aside Clerk's Entry of Default.[1]

         On October 1, 2019, Defendant Butana Sand and Gravel, LLC ("Butana") filed Defendant Butana's Answer to Second Amended Complaint and Crossclaims Against Aspen Management, LLC.[2] Aspen Management's answer to Butana's cross-claims was due on October 24, 2019.[3] No answer to Butana's cross-claims was filed.

         On November 18, 2019, Butana filed Butana's Request for Entry of Default Against Aspen Management, LLC.[4] Aspen Management's default on Butana's cross-claims was entered on November 20, 2019.[5]

         On November 21, 2019, Aspen Management moved to set aside the entry of default[6] and filed an accompanying brief[7] on November 25, 2019.

         Aspen Management alleges its failure to answer Butana's cross-claims was "an inadvertent omission, not a conscious disregarding of a pleading obligation."[8]

         DISCUSSION

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(c) permits the court to set aside an entry of default for good cause. The determination of good cause is within the court's discretion.[9] Relief from default is favored. Doubt as to whether good cause exists should be resolved in favor of the defaulting party.[10] Factors the Court may consider when determining if good cause exists in this case, include: "(1) whether [Aspen Management] engaged in culpable conduct that led to default; (2) whether [Aspen Management] had a meritorious defense; or (3) whether reopening the default [ ] would prejudice [Butana]."[11]

         CONCLUSION

         "If a defendant 'has received actual or constructive notice of the filing of the action and failed to answer,' its conduct is culpable."[12] However, Aspen Management may have meritorious defenses to Butana's cross-claims[13] and reopening the default will not prejudice Butana. The entry of default against Aspen Management is VACATED and SET ASIDE.

         ORDERED:

         1. Defendant Aspen Management, LLC's Motion to Set Aside Clerk's Entry of Default[14] is GRANTED.

         2. Aspen Management shall file an amended answer to the Second Amended Complaint[15] to address Butana's ...


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