Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pro Se Litigants - Be Warned - Futile Demonstrations Will Not Last Long

Pearle Vision sued an individual (his wife and related corporate entitle) for unauthorized operation of a two "Pearle Vision" stores.  Pearle Vision moved for a preliminary injunction.  Defendants responded without counsel, with the following notice:
Now coming is the man george-leslie, formerly of the Haffner family, by Limited Appearance and not by general appearance, reserving all rights, by necessity, for the protection of freedom, rights, titles, and interests in this civil action. The sole purpose of this limited appearance is to honor this court and at all pertinent times by acting under Variation of Agreement, in good-fath, with clean hands, with no intention of contempt, delay, or obstruction of the due process of the law, but for the purpose of maintaining the domestic, private, and public international order. Moreover, limited appearance is made in an effort to facilitate the peaceful and immediate-settlement of any and all stated disputes or claims, charges) [sic] and to further facilitate the immediate satisfaction, closure, and discharge of GEORGE L. HAFFNER pertaining to this account . . . and any other related account(s).
Additional documents were filed with similar language.  The defendants next filed two boxes of documents with the Court.  The corporation never appeared, so Plaintiff sought (and obtained) default.  The individual defendants returned to the Court with more documents.  The Court was not entertained.  Rule 55 provides that if party fails to defend itself, default is appropriate.   While no explicit definition is provided for "otherwise defend," such actions include attacking service, moving to dismiss, and seeking summary judgment.  Nothing the defendants had done fell into this type of activity:
None of the documents filed by Haffner and Mabry reveals an intent to “defend” the suit. Indeed, the documents reveal no intent whatsoever. Failing to conform with the prescriptions of Rule 8 by either responding “to the substance of the allegation” or stating a defense in “short and plain terms,” Haffner and Mabry fail to “plead or otherwise defend.” See 10 MOORE’S FEDERAL PRACTICE § 55.02 (3d ed. 2010) (“[D]efault promotes efficient administration of justice by requiring a responding party to conform with the requirements set out in the Federal Rules in a timely fashion.”).  Haffner and Mabry have defaulted.
Default granted, with Pearle Vision invited to brief damages for the Court.

Luxottica Retail North America, Inc. v. George L. Haffner Enterprises, Inc., Case No. 8:11-cv-2433 (M.D. Fla. Dec. 16, 2011) (J. Merryday)

1 comment:

  1. Given your background in IT, Woodrow, you might be interested in this post discussing why new legal tech startups don't focus on reducing pro se litigation -

    What do you think?