Law School Case Brief
Virgin Records Am., Inc. v. Lacey - 510 F. Supp. 2d 588 (S.D. Ala. 2007)
Where a defendant has failed to appear or otherwise acknowledge the pendency of a lawsuit against her for some three months after being served, entry of default judgment may be appropriate. Indeed, Fed. R. Civ. P. 55 itself provides for entry of default and default judgment where a defendant has failed to plead or otherwise defend as provided by the rules. Rule 55(a). In a variety of contexts, courts have entered default judgments against defendants who have failed to defend the claims against them following proper service of process. In short, then, while modern courts do not favor default judgments, they are certainly appropriate when the adversary process has been halted because of an essentially unresponsive party.
Plaintiffs instituted a complaint for copyright infringement against Defendant Lacey. The latter never filed an answer or otherwise appeared in the action. Plaintiffs then filed a motion to declare Defendant in default for failure to please or otherwise defend. Plaintiffs’ motion was granted.
Is a default judgment proper when the defendant fails to file an answer and appear at any stage of the proceeding?
The federal district court granted the motion for entry of default judgment, citing that the legal effect of Lacey's default is that she has now admitted the facts recited in the complaint, which are sufficient to establish her liability to plaintiffs on a theory of copyright infringement. Moreover, because Defendant had made no attempt to defend this action in the three months since being served with process, despite notice that plaintiffs were moving forward with default proceedings against her; as a result, Lacey's course of conduct amounted to a deliberate and intentional failure to respond, which is just the sort of dilatory litigation tactic that is contemplated by the rule governing default judgments.
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