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United States v. Colabella

United States District Court, D. Alaska

May 27, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
LOUIS COLABELLA and THERESA COLABELLA d/b/a LOUIS A. COLABELLA, INC. and POSTAL CONNECTIONS, Defendants.

ORDER RE MOTION TO VACATE DEFAULT JUDGMENT AND MOTION TO SET ASIDE DEFAULT JUDGMENT

SHARON L. GLEASON, District Judge.

At Docket 25 is Defendants' Motion to Vacate Default Judgment. The Government filed an opposition to the motion at Docket 30 and Defendant Louis Colabella filed a reply affidavit at Docket 31. Defendants also filed a Motion to Set Aside Default Judgment at Docket 32. The Government responded to that motion solely to assert that the motion "appears to be a duplicitous pleading" and referred the Court to its opposition to the Motion to Vacate.[1] Defendants are self-represented.[2] Oral argument was not requested on either motion and was not necessary to the Court's decision.

BACKGROUND

On June 12, 2014, the Government brought this action on behalf of the United States Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), seeking to recover a civil penalty that CBP alleged it issued to Defendants on March 23, 2011.[3] The Government alleged that CBP officers in Anchorage examined a shipment from China destined for one of the Defendants. The Government also alleged that "[t]he CBP officers determined that the shipment infringed upon a trademark, " seized the shipment, and administratively forfeited the merchandise.[4] The Summons and Complaint were served on Theresa Colabella on June 23, 2014, by U.S. certified mail, and on Louis Colabella's lawyer by U.S. certified mail on August 14, 2014.[5]

On September 17, 2014, the Clerk of Court entered defaults against Defendants Louis Colabella and Theresa Colabella pursuant to Rule 55 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.[6] On September 26, 2014, default judgments were entered against Louis Colabella for a total amount of $132, 643.58 plus post-judgment interest and against Theresa Colabella for the slightly different amount of $132, 634.54 plus post-judgment interest.[7]

DISCUSSION

"A default judgment is a drastic step appropriate only in extreme circumstances; a case should whenever possible be decided on the merits.'"[8] Rule 55(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a court may set aside a default judgment under Rule 60(b). Rule 60(b) provides that:

On motion and just terms, the court may relieve a party or its legal representative from a final judgment, order, or proceeding for the following reasons:
(1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect;
(2) newly discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence, could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b);
(3)fraud (whether previously called intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party;
(4) the judgment is void;
(5) the judgment has been satisfied, released or discharged; it is based on an earlier judgment that has been reversed or vacated; or applying it ...

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