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Armeni v. Transunion, LLC, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Charlottesville Division

September 22, 2016

TRANSUNION LLC, INC., et al., Defendants.



         Before the Court is a motion for reconsideration filed by the remaining defendant, BSI Financial Services, Inc. (“Defendant”). Defendant seeks relief from a default judgment, arguing it has meritorious defenses. Defendant contends the Court clearly erred (or has permitted a manifest injustice) by denying its motion to set aside a clerk's entry of default and by granting Plaintiff's motion for default judgment. The Court will deny Defendant's motion.

         Motions for reconsideration are not a chance to urge arguments that could have been (but were not) presented before, yet that is what the motion does. Defendant's attempts to downplay the motion's nature are unavailing. First, Defendant casts the motion as merely supplementing its prior arguments that it had a meritorious defense. But the Court's July 28th opinion explained that Defendant failed to present any evidence about its purported (and unspecified) defenses, instead resting on bald assertions about their existence. Indeed, Defendant argued at the time that it need not even put forth a meritorious defense. Second, Defendant claims it lacked sufficient time to mount its defenses. But before the Court entered default judgment, Defendant had months after it was effectively served; over seven weeks after it had actual notice of the suit; and over five weeks after counsel entered an appearance to create a record of its defenses for consideration by the Court at the default stage. Defendant-despite being represented by counsel-did not do so, nor did it request additional time for that purpose.


         The factual and procedural history of this case need not be repeated at length, as it was set forth in the Court's opinion of July 28, 2016. (Dkt. 37 at 1-3). In that opinion, the Court rejected Defendant's argument that it was improperly served. (Dkt. 37 at 6-7). For one, Defendant was effectively served on February 8, 2016, a point which it conceded at oral argument. (Id. at 6). Thus, its answer was due 21 days later, and its failure to respond warranted entry of default.

         As relevant to the instant motion, Defendant previously conceded that it received actual notice of the suit on June 7, 2016, the same day Plaintiff moved for a default judgment. (Dkt. 37 at 9). Defendant's attorney entered an appearance in the case on June 20, 2016. (Dkt. 28). Defendant then moved to set aside the entry of default (and opposed the motion for default judgment) on July 8, 2016. (Dkt. 33). The Court held oral argument and subsequently entered an opinion on July 28, 2016 that denied Defendant's motion and granted Plaintiff's motion. Thus, after Defendant admittedly received actual notice of the complaint against it, 13 days passed before it entered an appearance; 31 days passed before it moved to set aside default; and 51 days passed before the Court entered default judgment.

         As to the evaluation of whether good cause existed to justify relief from the entry of default, the Court considered each of the six factors required under Fourth Circuit precedent. It found that three of the factors cut against Defendant (meritorious defense, reasonable promptness, and personal responsibility), two favored it (history of dilatory action and availability of alternative sanctions), and one (prejudice) favored neither party. Defendant now targets the “meritorious defense” factor, which it hopes to flip in its favor.


         In a widely-cited passage, the Eastern District of Virginia has explained that reconsideration is:

appropriate where, for example, the Court has patently misunderstood a party, or has made a decision outside the adversarial issues presented to the Court by the parties, or has made an error not of reasoning but of apprehension. A further basis for a motion to reconsider would be a controlling or significant change in the law or facts since the submission of the issue to the Court. Such problems rarely arise and the motion to reconsider should be equally rare.

Above the Belt, Inc. v. Mel Bohannan Roofing, Inc., 99 F.R.D. 99, 101 (E.D. Va. 1983). Courts have subsequently distilled the grounds for reconsideration to (1) an intervening change in the law, (2) new evidence that was not previously available, or (3) correction of a clear error of law or to prevent manifest injustice. Pac. Ins. Co. v. Am. Nat. Fire Ins. Co., 148 F.3d 396, 403 (4th Cir. 1998); LaFleur v. Dollar Tree Stores, Inc., No. 2:12-CV-00363, 2014 WL 2121563, at *1 (E.D. Va. May 20, 2014). Such motions are disfavored and should be granted “sparingly.” Downie v. Revco Disc. Drug Ctrs., Inc., No. 3:05-CV-00021, 2006 WL 1171960, at *1 (W.D. Va. May 1, 2006). That is because their “improper use . . . can waste judicial resources and obstruct the efficient administration of justice.” United States v. Duke Energy Corp., 218 F.R.D. 468, 474 (M.D. N.C. 2003).


         In opposition to the motion for reconsideration, Plaintiff argues that “Defendant raises several new arguments and defenses that it could have easily raised in its Motion to Vacate/Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment.” (Dkt. 47 at 1). Because the Court agrees, it will deny the motion on procedural grounds.

         I. Defendant's Arguments Could and Should Have ...

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