United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Castillo Chief Judge.
Derrick Myles filed suit against Robert X. Reighter, Pedro A,
Dominguez, Charles F. Best, Sgt. Johnson (first name
unknown), Lt. Phillip Martin, Dr. Jane Doe, John Does #1-5,
and Jane Does #1-2 (collectively, "Defendants"),
alleging deprivations of his constitutional rights under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. (R. 18, Am. Compl.) The Court entered a
default against Defendants for failure to timely appear,
answer, or otherwise plead in response to Plaintiff's
amended complaint. (R. 20, Min. Entry at 1.) Plaintiff now
moves for default judgment, whereas Defendants move to vacate
the entry of default. (R. 30, Pl's Mot. at 1; R. 44,
Defs.' Mot. at 1.) For the reasons stated below,
Defendants' motion to vacate is granted, and Plaintiffs
motion for default judgment is denied.
September and December 2014, Plaintiff was incarcerated at
the Northern Reception and Classification Center
("NRC"), which is part of the Stateville
Correctional Center ("Stateville"). (R. 18, Am.
Compl. ¶ 6.) During that same period, Defendants were
employed by the Illinois Department of Corrections
("IDOC") and assigned to Stateville. (Id.
¶¶ 5-17.) Plaintiff alleges that upon his arrival
at NRC on September 10, 2014, he was "accosted by
several inmates who asked Plaintiff what his name was and why
he was going to court." (Id. ¶ 19.)
Another inmate allegedly accused Plaintiff of being involved
in an incident wherein a friend of his had been shot.
(Id. ¶ 20.) The other inmates then allegedly
threatened to kill Plaintiff as soon as the prison guards
left. (Id.) Plaintiff claims that he told several
officers about the threats, but they ignored him.
(Id. ¶¶ 20-22.) He claims that as soon as
the officers left the area, the other inmates attacked him,
injuring his arm, wrist, and hand. (Id. ¶¶
25-28.) He claims that these same officers then delayed
getting him necessary medical treatment for over an hour, and
that they wrongfully issued him a disciplinary report for
fighting with the other inmates. (Id. ¶¶
29-32.) Plaintiff was ultimately taken to Stateville's
Health Care Unit ("HCU"), where medical personnel
stitched an injury to his hand but allegedly failed to
examine the rest of his arm or give him any medication.
(Id. ¶¶ 33-34.)
approximately 11:15 p.m. that night, Plaintiff allegedly
notified two more officers that he was experiencing extreme
pain, numbness, and bleeding but they ignored him.
(Id. ¶ 35.) Plaintiff then broke the sprinkler
alarm system in his cell to draw attention to his need for
medical care. (Id. ¶ 38.) Plaintiff claims that
water ran into his cell for approximately three hours before
the officers responded. (Id. ¶ 40.) Plaintiff
was given another disciplinary report for damaging the
sprinkler. (Id. ¶ 44.)
following morning, Plaintiff was taken to the HCU and was
seen by a doctor, who allegedly cleaned the blood from his
hand and gave him two aspirin. (Id. ¶ 47.) For
the next three days, he claims to have suffered pain, loss of
feeling, swelling, and a "foul-smelling greenish-yellow
discharge" coming from his arm. (Id.
¶¶ 48-49.) Plaintiff claims that he reported all of
this to various officers but they continued to ignore him.
(Id. ¶ 49.)
September 15, 2014, Plaintiff claims that he was taken to HCU
again and that doctors determined he needed emergency
surgery, (Id. ¶¶ 53-54.) He claims that
despite knowing this, one of the prison guards handcuffed his
infected hand and placed him back in his cell. (Id.
¶ 54.) The following day, Plaintiff was taken to an
outside hospital, where medical specialists concluded that
Plaintiff had a "severe infection" in his left aim
and subsequently performed surgery. (Id.
¶¶ 55-57.) Plaintiff claims that although the
surgery "saved" his aim, he continues to have
problems with his arm, wrist, and hand as a result of the
lack of prompt treatment. (Id. ¶ 58.) He sues
numerous officers involved in these events, as well as the
prison doctor and other medical personnel who treated him at
HCU. (Id. ¶¶ 8-17.)
October 2015, Plaintiff filed a pro se complaint.
(R. 1, Compl.) The Court subsequently granted Plaintiffs
motion for counsel and recruited pro bono counsel to
represent him. (R. 4, Mot.; R. 9, Order.) In April 2016,
Plaintiff filed an amended complaint, through counsel,
alleging constitutional violations under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 against both named and unnamed Defendants. (R. 18, Am.
Compl.) Specifically, Plaintiff claims that Defendants failed
to protect him from the other inmates and ignored his
requests for medical care. (Id. ¶¶ 60-81.)
7, 2016, Plaintiffs counsel appeared for a status hearing and
advised the Court that Defendants had failed to timely
appear, answer, or otherwise respond to the amended
complaint. (R. 20, Min. Entry.) A default was entered against
all Defendants on that date. (Id.) Plaintiff took no
further action for more than a year, until October 3, 2017,
when he moved for default judgment seeking compensatory and
punitive damages against all 13 Defendants. (R. 30, Pl's
Mot.) On October 16, 2017, the Illinois Attorney General,
acting as a non-party, filed a response to Plaintiffs motion
for default judgment arguing that none of the Defendants were
ever properly served, (R. 35, Ill. Att'y Gen.'s
Resp.) In November 2017, Defendants Best and Martin,
represented by the Illinois Attorney General, filed a motion
to vacate the default entered by the Court. (R. 44, Defs,
' Mot.) Both attest that they did not have any knowledge
of this case until October 2017. (R. 444, Martin Decl.;
id., Best Decl.) Plaintiff objects to
Defendants' motion to vacate the default and argues that
judgment should be entered against all Defendants. (R. 42,
Pl's Reply; R. 48, Pl's Resp.)
judgment occurs through a two-step process: (1) entry of
default; and (2) entry of a default judgment. See
Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(a), (b). Upon entry of default, "the
well-pleaded allegations of a complaint relating to liability
are taken as true." VLM Food Trading Int'l,
Inc. v. Ill. Trading Co., 811 F.3d 247, 255 (7th
Cir. 2016) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).
Once a default is entered, "[t]he defaulting party
cannot contest the fact of his liability unless the entry of
default is vacated under Rule 55(c)." Id.
However, the Court still must determine the appropriate
amount of damages, which must be pleaded and proved by the
plaintiff in a motion for default judgment. See Id.
Before judgment can be entered, "[t]he plaintiff bears
the burden to demonstrate that the district court has
jurisdiction over each defendant through effective
service." Cardenas v. City of Chicago, 646 F.3d
1001, 1005 (7th Cir. 2011).
Court to vacate a default or a default judgment, the movant
"must show good cause, quick action to respond to the
default, and a meritorious defense to the underlying
allegations." Acosta v. DT & C Global Mgrnt,
LLC,874 F.3d 557, 560 (7th Cir. 2017); see
also Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(c) (providing that the Court can
set aside a default for "good cause"). The same
standards govern motions to vacate a default and a default
judgment, but the standards are "more liberally
applied" to a motion seeking to vacate a default.
Cracco v. Vitran Express, Inc.,559 F.3d 625, 631
(7th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted). Additionally, there is
policy in federal court ...