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Reynolds v. Automobile Club of Missouri

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

February 19, 2014

ATRELLA REYNOLDS, Plaintiff,
v.
AUTOMOBILE CLUB OF MISSOURI, a Missouri nonprofit mutual benefit corporation, [1] Defendant.

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

DAVID R. HERNDON, Chief District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Pending before the Court is a motion to dismiss, converted by this Court into a motion for summary judgment, see Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d) (Doc. 98), filed by defendant Automobile Club of Missouri (ACMO) (Doc. 77), incorrectly identified in the complaint brought by Atrella Reynolds (Reynolds) as AAA Auto Club Enterprises (AAA). Additionally, Reynolds moves for default judgment (Doc. 84). For the following reasons, Reynolds' motion is DENIED (Doc. 84) and ACMO's motion is GRANTED (Doc. 77).

II. BACKRGROUND

Reynolds' complaint arises from a job fair she attended in St. Louis, Missouri. As a result of the job fair, Reynolds allegedly took part in a phone interview on September 15, 2010, for a sales position. Reynolds received email notification that she was not selected for the position. Reynolds sought an explanation as to why she was not selected. Reynolds alleges she did not receive an explanation ( See Doc. 1, p. 3).

Thereafter, Reynolds filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging "AAA Auto Club Enterprises, " located at 12901 Outer Forty, Saint Louis, Missouri 63141, discriminated against her on the basis of race, sex, and age. The EEOC issued Reynolds a right-to-sue notice on November 23, 2011 (Doc. 1, p. 6).

Reynolds filed her employment discrimination complaint under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1967 (Title VII), as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5, and The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. § 621, with this Court on March 2, 2012 ( Id. ). Reynolds' complaint alleges she received the EEOC right-to-sue notice on December 27, 2011 ( Id. at p. 2). As demonstrated by the extensive docket sheet in this matter, the usually mundane issue of service of process has been much disputed in this action. Reynolds sought default judgment against AAA multiple times. This Court denied Reynolds' motions and dismissed Reynolds' complaint for failure to prosecute (Doc. 59). The Seventh Circuit vacated the dismissal and remanded to this Court on May 23, 2013. See Reynolds v. AAA Auto Club Enter., 525 F.Appx. 488 (7th Cir. 2013) (per curiam). Thus, this Court directed AAA to show cause as to why default judgment should not be entered against it (Doc. 74). In response, ACMO moved to dismiss the complaint (Doc. 77), filed an answer to the complaint (Doc. 79), and filed a memorandum as to why default judgment should not be entered against it (Doc. 83). Reynolds renews her request for default judgment against AAA (Doc. 84). This Court has converted ACMO's motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment (Doc. 98). The Court provided Reynolds the requisite notice (Docs. 98 and 101), see Timms v. Frank, 953 F.2d 281, 284 (7th Cir. 1992), and allowed her two separate opportunities to respond to the converted motion.

III. STANDARD

Summary judgment is proper when the pleadings, discovery, and disclosures establish that there is no genuine issue of material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Winsley v. Cook Cnty., 563 F.3d 598, 602-03 (7th Cir. 2009); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). The movant bears the initial burden of establishing the absence of fact issues and its entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. Santaella v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 123 F.3d 456, 461 (7th Cir. 1997) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323). Once the movant has shown the facts entitle it to judgment in its favor, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to identify some evidence in the record that establishes a triable factual issue. Trentadue v. Redmon, 619 F.3d 648, 652 (7th Cir. 2010).

IV. LAW AND APPLICATION

1. Default Judgment Denied; ACMO is Proper Defendant

This Court ordered AAA to show cause why default judgment should not be entered against it (Doc. 74). Not surprisingly, Reynolds also renews her request for default judgment against AAA (Doc. 84). FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 60(b) allows a court to vacate a default judgment provided the moving party can demonstrate, "(1) good cause' for the default; (2) quick action to correct the default; and (3) the existence of a meritorious defense to the original complaint." Jones v. Phipps, 39 F.3d 158, 162 (7th Cir. 1994) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(1)). In contrast, Rule 55(c) allows a court to vacate an entry of default on the basis of "good cause." See Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(c).

Importantly, in this instance, neither an entry of default pursuant to Rule 55(a) nor default judgment pursuant to Rule 55(b) has been entered against any defendant to this action. Thus, the stringent standard of Rue 60(b) does not apply and the Court will solely look to whether "good cause" exists for the failure to timely answer or otherwise respond to the complaint.

ACMO alleges Reynolds repeatedly attempted service upon a non-existent entity, AAA. ACMO provides the Court with an affidavit of Carl Kraft (Kraft), Manager of Legal Services for ACMO, located at 12901 North Forty Drive, St, Louis, Missouri, 63141 (Doc. 97, p. 6). Kraft alleges ACMO is the AAA-affiliated entity that Reynolds contacted in 2010 regarding employment. ACMO provides an email it sent Reynolds on September 21, 2010, stating, "[a]fter careful consideration, we have identified other candidates whose educational background and professional experience were a more suitable match for this role. We encourage you to explore other career opportunities at www.AAA.com/careers." ...


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