Medunic v. Lederer, No. 75-1320

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore HUNTER, KALODNER and GARTH; KALODNER
Citation533 F.2d 891
Docket NumberNo. 75-1320
Decision Date19 April 1976
PartiesEli L. MEDUNIC and Dolores M. Medunic v. Louis W. LEDERER, Appellant.

Page 891

533 F.2d 891
Eli L. MEDUNIC and Dolores M. Medunic
v.
Louis W. LEDERER, Appellant.
No. 75-1320.
United States Court of Appeals,
Third Circuit.
Argued Jan. 23, 1976.
Decided April 19, 1976.

Page 892

James M. Marsh, Edward R. Paul, LaBrum & Doak, Philadelphia, Pa., for appellant.

Ronald I. Rosenstein, Rosenstein & Kleitman, Norristown, Pa., for appellees.

Before HUNTER, KALODNER and GARTH, Circuit Judges.

OPINION OF THE COURT

KALODNER, Circuit Judge.

In this diversity action for damages, allegedly incurred in an automobile accident, a default was entered against the defendant-appellant Louis W. Lederer for failure to answer or otherwise plead to the plaintiffs-appellees' complaint within 20 days after its service. The district court subsequently orally denied the defendant's motion to set aside the default and forthwith proceeded to a non-jury trial on the issue of damages only. 1 Thereafter, the district court filed a "Memorandum" in which it grounded its denial of the motion to set aside the entry of default on " 'gross,' or 'inexcusable' " negligent failure to answer the complaint. 64 F.R.D. 403, 406 (E.D.Pa.1974). The Memorandum was accompanied by an Order denying defendant's motion.

The district court later filed "Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law" 2 in which it assessed damages in the amount of $4,250 in favor of the plaintiff-appellee Eli L. Medunic and $14,250 in favor of the plaintiff-appellee Dolores M. Medunic.

The defendant contends on this appeal that the district court erred (1) in abusing its permissible discretion in denying his motion to set aside the entry of default, (2) in ordering him to stand trial on the issue of damages "without the benefit of an opportunity for discovery or for obtaining medical examination of the plaintiffs," and (3) in permitting the plaintiffs to testify as to their injuries and medical bills, and loss of earnings, without corroborative medical testimony and proof of their earnings.

We do not reach the defendant's second and third contentions since we are of the opinion that the district court abused its permissible discretion in denying the defendant's motion to set aside the entry of default on its narrow finding that the defendant's insurance company was guilty of " 'gross,' or 'inexcusable' " negligence "in permitting a default or default judgment 3 to be filed against its insured." 64 F.R.D. at 406.

Discussion of our holding must be prefaced by this summarization of the facts:

On April 18, 1974 the plaintiffs, Pennsylvania residents, filed a complaint against the defendant, a resident of New York. It

Page 893

alleged that the plantiffs were injured when the defendant's automobile, suddenly and without warning, attempted to make a left hand turn in front of their automobile forcing it to swerve off the road into a telegraph pole in order to avoid a head-on collision.

The plaintiffs' complaint was endorsed with notice to plead within 20 days. It was served on the defendant by registered mail on May 2, 1974, and he mailed it to his insurance agent who in turn forwarded it to the Nationwide Insurance Company, the defendant's insurer.

The defendant failed to plead or respond to the complaint and a default was entered against him on June 4, 1974, at the plaintiffs' instance, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(1).

On June 11, 1974 the district court sent a notice to the defendant that the case would be scheduled for pre-trial conference.

On June 18, 1974, the defendant was notified that the case would be listed for trial as to damages on July 8, 1974.

On July 8, 1974, counsel for the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
126 practice notes
  • Leab v. Streit, No. 83 Civ. 5232 (SWK).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • 14 Abril 1984
    ...is granted." Davis, 713 F.2d at 915; Roundball, at 176. See also, Meehan v. Snow, 652 F.2d 274, 277 (2d Cir.1981); Medunic v. Lederer, 533 F.2d 891 (3d Cir.1976); Morris v. Charnin, 85 F.R.D. 689, 690 1. Meritorious Defense Defendant has, at one time or another, asserted a plethora of defen......
  • N.J. Title Ins. Co. v. Cecere, Civ. No. 20-1286 (KM) (JBC)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • 7 Diciembre 2020
    ...cases may be decided on the merits." Id. (second alteration in original) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Medunic v. Lederer, 533 F.2d 891, 894 (3d Cir.1976)). However, analysis of the Gold Kist factors "is not necessary" where "the default judgment was improperly entered." Gold ......
  • Debra Heverly Campbell, & Pohaku Funding & Inv. Corp. v. M&T Bank, Colony Surf Ltd., Case No. 3:16-cv-118
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. Western District of Pennsylvania
    • 12 Enero 2018
    ...preference for allowing claims to be decided on their merits and, thus, should set aside default liberally. See Medunic v. Lederer, 533 F.2d 891, 894 (3d Cir. 1976); Hritz, 732 F.2d at 1181; Mark IV Transp. & Logistics, Inc. v. Bowman Sales and Equip. Co., Civil Action No. 16-cv-01310, 2016......
  • Ewing v. Johnston, No. 70508
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • 4 Septiembre 1985
    ...of default and have resolved doubts in favor of the party seeking relief so that the case can be heard on its merits. Medunic v. Lederer, 533 F.2d 891, 894 (3d Cir.1976); Tolson v. Hodge, 411 F.2d 123, 130 (4th Cir.1969). Generally, a default should be set aside where the defendant acts wit......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
126 cases
  • Leab v. Streit, No. 83 Civ. 5232 (SWK).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • 14 Abril 1984
    ...is granted." Davis, 713 F.2d at 915; Roundball, at 176. See also, Meehan v. Snow, 652 F.2d 274, 277 (2d Cir.1981); Medunic v. Lederer, 533 F.2d 891 (3d Cir.1976); Morris v. Charnin, 85 F.R.D. 689, 690 1. Meritorious Defense Defendant has, at one time or another, asserted a plethora of defen......
  • N.J. Title Ins. Co. v. Cecere, Civ. No. 20-1286 (KM) (JBC)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • 7 Diciembre 2020
    ...cases may be decided on the merits." Id. (second alteration in original) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Medunic v. Lederer, 533 F.2d 891, 894 (3d Cir.1976)). However, analysis of the Gold Kist factors "is not necessary" where "the default judgment was improperly entered." Gold ......
  • Debra Heverly Campbell, & Pohaku Funding & Inv. Corp. v. M&T Bank, Colony Surf Ltd., Case No. 3:16-cv-118
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. Western District of Pennsylvania
    • 12 Enero 2018
    ...preference for allowing claims to be decided on their merits and, thus, should set aside default liberally. See Medunic v. Lederer, 533 F.2d 891, 894 (3d Cir. 1976); Hritz, 732 F.2d at 1181; Mark IV Transp. & Logistics, Inc. v. Bowman Sales and Equip. Co., Civil Action No. 16-cv-01310, 2016......
  • Ewing v. Johnston, No. 70508
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • 4 Septiembre 1985
    ...of default and have resolved doubts in favor of the party seeking relief so that the case can be heard on its merits. Medunic v. Lederer, 533 F.2d 891, 894 (3d Cir.1976); Tolson v. Hodge, 411 F.2d 123, 130 (4th Cir.1969). Generally, a default should be set aside where the defendant acts wit......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT