United States District Court, D. Minnesota
M. Morris, MORRIS & MORRIS, P.S.C., and Laura J.
McKnight, Jessica M. Marsh, and Janet M. Olawsky, JACKSON
LEWIS P.C., for plaintiff.
Miller-Van Oort, Jonathan A. Strauss, and Ryan O. Vettleson,
SAPIENTIA LAW GROUP, PLLC, for defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S
MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT
R. TUNHEIM CHIEF JUDGE
Management Registry, Inc. (“MRI”), brought this
diversity action against Defendant Milan Batinich in December
2017 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of
Illinois, which transferred the action to this Court in May
2018. Batinich did not file his Answer until July 11, after
the deadline imposed by the Federal Rules. MRI moves for
entry of a default judgment against Batinich pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b). Because Batinich is
technically not in default, and because the Belcourt
factors do not weigh in favor of entering a default judgment
against Batinich, the Court will deny MRI's motion.
initiated this action in the U.S. District Court for the
Northern District of Illinois in December 2017. (Compl., Dec.
7, 2017, Docket No. 1.) MRI asserts claims for various
business torts against Batinich related to Batinich's
former work for AllStaff, an MRI affiliate, and his current
work for A.W. Companies, an MRI competitor. (See Id.
¶ 1.) A.W. Companies is a defendant in an earlier-filed,
related action in this Court brought by MRI. See
generally Mgmt. Registry, Inc. v. A.W. Cos., No.
17-5009, 2018 WL 461132 (D. Minn. Jan. 16, 2018).
this action was transferred here, the parties engaged in
quite the whirlwind of motion practice. On December 8, 2017,
one day after filing its complaint, MRI moved for a
preliminary injunction and for expedited discovery.
(Pl.'s Mot. for Prelim. Inj., Dec. 8, 2017, Docket No. 5;
Pl.'s Mot. for Expedited Disc., Dec. 8, 2017, Docket No.
8.) Five days later, Batinich opposed MRI's two motions
and filed one of his own: an “omnibus motion” to
dismiss or transfer the case. (Def.'s Mem. in Opp'n,
Dec. 13, 2017, Docket No. 20; Def.'s Omnibus Mot. to
Dismiss, Dec. 13, 2017, Docket No. 21.) Batinich moved to
dismiss under Rule 12(b)(2) for lack of personal jurisdiction
or to transfer the case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a).
Batinich pointed the court to the earlier-filed, related
action in this Court. The next day, December 14, the Illinois
court held a hearing on the parties' motions at which
both sides were represented by counsel and during which each
side explained their view of the case. (See Tr. of
Proceedings, Feb. 14, 2018, Docket No. 45.)
January 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Northern
District of Illinois denied Batinich's motion to dismiss
or transfer. (Order, Jan. 26, 2018, Docket No. 34.) MRI
promptly renewed its motions for a preliminary injunction and
for expedited discovery. (Pl.'s Mot. to Renew, Jan. 30,
2018, Docket No. 35.) Prior to a second hearing on MRI's
(renewed) motions, Batinich asked the U.S. District Court for
the Northern District of Illinois to reconsider his motion to
dismiss or transfer; he also moved to strike a declaration
that MRI submitted in its opposition to Batinich's
motions. (Def.'s Mot. to Strike and to Reconsider, Feb.
15, 2018, Docket No. 46.) At that second hearing, the court
took MRI's renewed motions under advisement and ordered
MRI to respond to Batinich's motion to reconsider.
(Minute Entry, Feb. 20, 2018, Docket No. 52.) In April, the
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
granted Batinich's motion to reconsider and his motion to
transfer, (Mem. Op., Apr. 2, 2018, Docket No. 55), and this
case was transferred here in May (see Docket Nos.
appears that Batinich's Answer was due on February 9,
2018. Because Batinich filed a Rule 12 motion
within twenty-one days of being served with MRI's
complaint and summons, his time to file his Answer was
extended to fourteen days after the court denied the motion.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(a)(4)(A). Batinich's motion was denied on
January 26, 2018, making Batinich's Answer due February
9. It does not appear, however, that either party gave much
thought to Batinich's Answer until May - understandable
given the parties' attention on their aforementioned
29, MRI moved for entry of default judgment, and a week
later, Batinich sought an extension of time to file his
Answer pursuant to Rule 6(b). (Pl.'s Mot. for Default J.,
May 29, 2018, Docket No. 67; Def.'s Mot. for Extension of
Time, June 5, 2018, Docket No. 76.) The Court granted
Batinich's motion, (Order, July 10, 2018, Docket No. 85),
and Batinich filed his Answer on July 11 (Answer, July 11,
2018, Docket No. 86.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
55(b)(2) permits a court to enter a default judgment. But
“default judgments are ‘not favored by the law
and should be a rare judicial act.'” Belcourt
Pub. Sch. Dist. v. Davis, 786 F.3d 653, 661
(8th Cir. 2015) (quoting In re Jones Truck
Lines, Inc., 63 F.3d 685, 688 (8th Cir.
1995)). Instead, “there is a ‘judicial preference
for adjudication on the merits.'” Id.
(quoting Johnson v. Dayton Elec. Mfg. Co., 140 F.3d
781, 784 (8th Cir. 1998)). In determining whether
to enter a default judgment, courts may consider several
[T]he amount of money potentially involved; whether material
issues of fact or issues of substantial public importance are
at issue; whether the default is largely technical; whether
plaintiff has been substantially prejudiced by the delay
involved; . . . whether the grounds for default are clearly
established or are in doubt[;] . . . how harsh an effect a
default judgment might have; or whether the default was