United States District Court, D. Maryland
LIPTON HOLLANDER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
December 7, 2016, self-represented plaintiff Maria Manga
filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the
District of Columbia against Edward Knox, Jr. (originally
sued as Knox Edward, Jr.), Deputy District Director of the
U.S. Small Business Administration (“SBA”) in
Baltimore. ECF 1. She filed a nine-page amended complaint on
January 4, 2017. ECF 5. Plaintiff alleges that she was
subject to discrimination, harassment, and retaliation by
Knox, based on her national origin, ancestry, and skin color.
Id. at 1. On April 5, 2017, Judge Boasberg issued a
“Transfer Order, ” transferring the case to the
District of Maryland. ECF 7. Summons was executed upon Linda
E. McMahon, Administrator of the SB A, on June 9, 2017. ECF
motions are pending: plaintiffs Motion to Amend Caption (ECF
12), filed on May 24, 2017; plaintiffs “Request for
Clerk's Entry of Default” (ECF 22), filed on August
21, 2017; McMahon's Motion to Dismiss, pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) (ECF 23), filed on September 1, 2017;
plaintiffs “Request for Clerk's Entry of Default
for Judgement” (ECF 25) (construed as an Amended Motion
for Clerk's Entry of Default), filed on September 5,
2017; and plaintiffs “Motion to Dismiss Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgement [and] Motion to Proceed with the
Default Judgment” (ECF 27), filed on September 20,
dispositive motions are not the subject of this Memorandum.
No hearing is necessary to resolve the remaining motions.
Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons that follow, I shall grant
plaintiffs Motion to Amend Caption (ECF 12). But, I shall
deny plaintiffs Motion for Clerk's Entry of Default (ECF
22) and her Amended Motion for Clerk's Entry of Default
Motion to Amend Caption
Motion to Amend Caption, plaintiff requests leave to
“amend the caption of her complaint to reflect the name
of Agency as the appropriate defendant.” ECF 12 at 1.
By “Agency, ” she seems to refer to Linda
McMahon, Administrator of the SBA. Although it appears that
plaintiff seeks to add McMahon, there is no indication that
she seeks to substitute McMahon for Knox. In any event, the
Motion to Amend Caption is unopposed. Because the amendment
is appropriate under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16(c), I shall
grant the Motion to Amend Caption, adding McMahon as a
defendant in her official capacity.
Motion for Clerk's Entry of Default
filed a “Request for Clerk's Entry of
Default” on August 21, 2017 (ECF 22), and submitted a
“Request for Clerk's Entry of Default for
Judgement” on September 5, 2017. ECF 25. The submission
of the amended motion (ECF 25) renders moot the original
motion (ECF 22). Therefore, I shall deny ECF 22 as moot.
Civ. P. 55 lays out the proper procedure for seeking an entry
of default and a default judgment. If a defendant has not
responded to the complaint within the prescribed time, the
clerk must enter the defendant's default. Fed.R.Civ.P.
55(a). Thereafter, the plaintiff may move for a default
judgment, but “'[a] defendant's default does
not in itself warrant the court in entering a default
judgment. There must be a sufficient basis in the pleadings
for the judgment entered.'” Worsham v. Travel
Options, Inc., 678 F. App'x 165 (4th Cir. 2017)
procedural failings of plaintiff s motion aside, entry of
default is inappropriate at this juncture. First, defendants
did not default. As McMahon stated in her Opposition to
Plaintiffs Amended Motion for Default Judgment (ECF 26),
McMahon was served on June 9, 2017 (ECF 17), the U.S.
Attorney General was served June 12, 2017 (ECF 18), and the
U.S. Attorney's Office was not properly served but
acknowledges receipt of the complaint on July 3, 2017. ECF 26
at 3. Notably, Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(a)(2) provides that a United
States agency has 60 days to answer a complaint after service
upon the U.S. Attorney. Therefore, defendant's response
was not due until September 1, 2017.
September 1, 2017, McMahon timely responded to the amended
complaint with a Motion to Dismiss. ECF 23. Thus, McMahon
never defaulted. Although Knox did not join the Motion, based
on the filing by plaintiff of ECF 12, Knox may have thought
plaintiff thought to substitute McMahon as the defendant.
Knox will be directed to respond.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(d) states that “[a] default judgment
may be entered against the United States, its officers, or
its agencies only if the claimant establishes a claim or
right to relief by evidence that satisfies the court.”
It is clear that this standard has not yet been met.
Furthermore, the Fourth Circuit has consistently expressed a
“strong preference that cases be decided on their
merits.” Aikens v. Ingram, 652 F.3d 496, 523
(4th Cir. 2011). See also, e.g., U.S. v. Mraz, 274
F.Supp.2d 750, 756 (D. Md. 2003).
these reasons, I shall deny the Amended Motion for