United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
STATE FARM FIRE AND CASUALTY COMPANY, a subrogee and successor in interest of Plaintiff's insured, SCOTT A. EDGAR, Plaintiff,
BRIDGING PARTNERS CORPORATION, HOMEWERKS WOLDWIDE, LLC, BAI MIN ENTERPRISE, AND HOME DEPOT U.S.A., INC., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT BRIDGING
PARTNERS CORPORATION'S MOTION TO SET ASIDE DEFAULT
JUDGMENT [ECF NO. 25]
V. PARKER U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
September 23, 2016, Plaintiff State Farm Fire & Casualty
Company (“Plaintiff” or “State Farm”)
commenced this action in state court against Defendants
Homewerks Worldwide, LLC (“Homewerks”), Home
Depot U.S.A., Inc. (“Home Depot”), Bridging
Partners Corporation (“Bridging Partners”), and
Bai Min Enterprise (“Bai Min”) (collectively,
Defendants). On February 3, 2017, Defendant Homewerks removed
this action to federal court on the basis of diversity
jurisdiction. (ECF No. 1 at Pg ID 7.)
before the Court are two motions: (1) Plaintiff's motion
for default judgment as to Bridging Partners Corporation (ECF
No. 22) and (2) Bridging Partners' motion to set aside
entry of default judgment (ECF No. 25). Bridging Partners
filed a response brief to Plaintiff's motion for entry of
the default judgment. (ECF No. 28). Plaintiff, however, did
not file a response brief to Bridging Partners' motion to
set aside the default judgment. The Court does not believe
that oral argument will aid in its disposition of the motion;
therefore, it is dispensing with oral argument pursuant to
Eastern District of Michigan Local Rule 7.1(f). For the
reasons that follow, the Court is granting Bridging
Partners' motion to set aside entry of default judgment
and denying as moot Plaintiff's motion for default
case arises from substantial water damage at a property
insured by Plaintiff. (ECF No. 22 at Pg ID 155.) The
property, located at 7213 Lobdell Road, Linden, Michigan,
suffered water damage throughout the home as a result of a
water supply line that was “manufactured, designed,
constructed, developed, inspected, tested, assembled and/or
distributed by” Defendant Bridging Partners.
(Id.) On September 23, 2016, Plaintiff filed a
complaint seeking a money judgment against Defendants,
including Bridging Partners for an alleged breach of duties
to Plaintiff's insured. (Id. at Pg ID 156.)
alleges that Bridging Partners was properly served by
personal service on January 5, 2017. (Id.) In
support, Plaintiff provides an affidavit of service by Wei
Chi Wu, a process server. (Id. at Pg ID 193.) The
affidavit states he served a Ms. Sheng Shi in Taipei, Taiwan.
(Id.) A witness statement was attached to the proof
of service, where two witnesses attested that they witnessed
Wei Chi Wu signing the proof of service. (Id. at Pg
ID 194.) The witness statement was dated January 11, 2017.
then filed a motion for entry of default against Bridging
Partners for failure to answer the complaint. A clerk's
entry of default was filed on April 21, 2017. (ECF No. 25-3
at Pg ID 234.)
Rule of Civil Procedure 55(c) provides that a court may set
aside an entry of default judgment for “good
cause.” In determining whether “good cause”
exists, courts consider whether: (1) the plaintiff will be
prejudiced; (2) the defendant has a meritorious defense; and
(3) culpable conduct of the defendant led to the default.
United States v. $22, 050.00 U.S. Currency, 595 F.3d
318, 324 (6th Cir. 2010) (citing Waifersong, Ltd. v.
Classic Music Vending, 976 F.2d 290, 232 (6th Cir.
1992)). Courts are to employ a “lenient standard”
when evaluating a request to set aside a default that has not
yet ripened into a judgment. Shepard Claims Serv., Inc.
v. William Darrah & Assocs., 796 F.2d 190, 193 (6th
Cir. 1986). “[W]hen the first two factors militate in
favor of setting aside the entry, it is an abuse of
discretion for a district court to deny a Rule 55(c) motion
in the absence of a willful failure of the moving party to
appear and plead.” Id. at 194. Federal courts
favor trials on the merits; therefore, doubts should be
resolved in favor of setting aside a default. United Coin
Meter Co. v. Seaboard Coastline R.R., 705 F.2d 839, 846
(6th Cir. 1983).
process requires proper service of process for a court to
have jurisdiction to adjudicate the rights of the
parties.” O.J. Distrib., Inc. v. Hornell Brewing
Co., 340 F.3d 345, 353 (6th Cir. 2003) (citing Amen
v. City of Dearborn, 532 F.2d 554, 557 (6th Cir. 1976)).
“Therefore, if service of process was not proper, the
court must set aside an entry of default.”
Id.; see also Omni Capital Int'l, Ltd. v.
Rudolf Wolff & Co., Ltd., 484 U.S. 97, 104 (1987)
(“Before a federal court may exercise personal
jurisdiction over a defendant, the procedural requirement of
service of summons must be satisfied.”).
Rule of Civil Procedure 4(h) provides that a foreign
corporation must be served either in a judicial district of
the United States or “at a place not within any
judicial district of the United States, in any manner
prescribed by Rule 4(f) for serving an individual, except
personal delivery under (f)(2)(C)(i).” Rule 4(f)
incorporates the following methods of service on individuals
in foreign countries:
(1) by an internationally agreed means of service that is
reasonably calculated to give notice, such as those
authorized by the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of
Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents;
(2) if there is no internationally agreed means, or if an
international agreement allows but does not specify other
means, by a method that is reasonably calculated to give
(A) as prescribed by the foreign country's law for
service in that country in an action in its courts of ...