United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division
ORDER DENYING WITHOUT PREJUDICE CATERPILLAR FINANCIAL
SERVICES CORPORATION'S MOTIONS [17, 18, 19] FOR DEFAULT
SULEYMAN OZERDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
THE COURT are Plaintiff Caterpillar Financial Services
Corporation's Motions for Default Judgment [17, 18, 19]
as to Defendants Hi-Lo Farms, Inc., Russell Ryals, and Coast
Construction, LLC, respectively, filed on November 25, 2019.
After due consideration of Plaintiff's Motions, the
record, and the relevant law, the Court is of the opinion
that Plaintiff's Motions should be denied without
filed its Complaint  in this case on May 24, 2019. Compl.
. Defendant Martha Cole filed a separate Answer  to the
Complaint on August 30, 2019, and is defending the case.
Plaintiff filed the relevant Proofs of Service for the
remaining three Defendants between June 17 and September 11,
2019, and each docket entry reflects the date of service and
the date each answer was due, as follows:
1. Summons Returned Executed  on Russell Ryals, served on
June 8, 2019-answer due July 1, 2019;
2. Summons Returned Executed  on Hi-Lo Farms, Inc.,
served September 24, 2019-answer due October 15, 2019;
3. Summons Returned Executed  on Coast Construction, LLC,
served September 26, 2019-answer due October 17, 2019.
See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(a)(1)(A)(i) (answer due within
October 16, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Motion  for Entry of
Default as to Defendant Russell Ryals, as he had not filed a
responsive pleading. A Clerk's Entry of Default  was
entered on October 18, 2019. This was followed on November 5,
2019, by Motions [14, 15] for Entry of Default as to
Defendants Hi-Lo Farms, Inc. and Coast Construction, LLC,
since they had not filed responsive pleadings. A Clerk's
Entry of Default  was entered on November 6, 2019, as to
Defendants Hi-Lo Farms, Inc. and Coast Construction, LLC.
Plaintiff then moved on November 25, 2019, for this Court to
enter a Default Judgment against these three Defendants.
Mots. for Default J. [17, 18, 19]. No response has been filed
by the Defendants at issue.
Complaint seeks to impose joint and several liability on
Defendants. The Complaint advances claims against Defendant
Martha Cole under a Guaranty Agreement with Defendant Hi-Lo
Farms, Inc. Compl.  at 6; Guaranty Agreement [1-2] at 1.
It also seeks to find Defendant Cole individually liable for
the debts of Coast Construction, LLC because she and
Defendant Ryals allowed it to dissolve and failed to respect
corporate formalities. Compl.  at 8. Given the nature of
the claims asserted and the current procedural posture of the
case, the Court is of the opinion that granting
Plaintiff's Motions [17, 18, 19] for Default Judgment as
to Defendants Hi-Lo Farms, Inc., Russell Ryals, and Coast
Construction, LLC would be premature at this time.
Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b)(2) provides that, if a
plaintiff's claim is not for a sum certain or a sum that
can be made certain by computation, the party must apply to
the court for a default judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2). The
Fifth Circuit has acknowledged that Rule 55(b)(2) does not
include mandatory language requiring a district court to
enter a default judgment. Lindsey v. Prive Corp.,
161 F.3d 886, 893 (5th Cir. 1998). Rather, it has held that
“a district court has the discretion to decline to
enter a default judgment.” Id. The Fifth
Circuit has also noted that “default judgments are
disfavored.” Id. “Default judgments are
a drastic remedy, not favored by the Federal Rules and
resorted to by courts only in extreme situations.”
Sun Bank of Ocala v. Pelican Homestead & Savs.
Ass'n, 874 F.2d 274, 276 (5th Cir. 1989).
“[T]hey are available only when the adversary process
has been halted because of an essentially unresponsive
party.” Id. (internal citations omitted).
Court has previously acknowledged that entry of a default
judgment against certain defaulted defendants would be
premature when a plaintiff's claims against other
defendants, who were alleged to have acted with the defaulted
defendants to cause the same damages, have not been
adjudicated. Allstate Prop. v. Donald, No.
1:17CV2-HSO-JCG, 2017 WL 5653874, at *2 (S.D.Miss. Mar.
16, 2017) (citing First National Bank of Louisville, No.
87-5488, 1992 WL 110539, at *1 (E.D. La. May 6, 1992)); see
also Hunt v. Inter-Globe Energy, Inc., 770 F.2d 145
(10th Cir. 1985) (reversing district court's judgment
denying vacation of default judgment in action where
plaintiffs sought joint and several liability, and remanding
to reduce default judgment to an amount consistent with
adjudication of liability and damages against non-defaulting,
co-defendant at jury trial).
“when default is entered against one defendant in a
multi-defendant case, a court may prefer to withhold granting
a default judgment until a decision on the merits against the
remaining defendants has been entered.” Allstate Prop.,
2017 WL 5653874, at *2 (citing Metro PCS v. PC-Wiz Corp.,
No. 3:16-CV-0442-B, 2017 WL 131696, at *6 (N.D. Tex.
Jan. 13, 2017) (citation omitted)). “This is especially
true where, as ...