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Peppers-Jeridore v. T. Bayou, LLC

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division

January 7, 2020

DESTINEE N. PEPPERS-JERIDORE, Plaintiff,
v.
T. BAYOU, LLC, d/b/a Burger King, Defendant.

          ORDER

          DAVID C. NORTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the court on plaintiff Destinee N. Peppers-Jeridore's (“Peppers-Jeridore”) memorandum in support of damages, ECF No. 16.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Peppers-Jeridore filed this employment discrimination action with the court on April 15, 2019 against defendant T Bayou, LLC, d/b/a Burger King (“Burger King”). On the same day, a summons was issued for Burger King. In her complaint, Peppers-Jeridore alleges that she was sexually harassed during her employment with Burger King and fired upon reporting the alleged harassment. By local rule, the case was assigned to Magistrate Judge Mary Gordon Baker. To properly convey the court's frustration with the events that followed, a detailed review of this matter's procedural history is appropriate.

         Peppers-Jeridore filed this action on April 15, 2019. On July 23, 2019, because neither party had made any additional filings, Magistrate Judge Baker issued a text order which stated:

A summons in this action was issued on April 15, 2019, and service was due by July 15, 2019. No proof of service has yet been filed. Plaintiff must file proof of service by July 25, 2019. If no proof of service is filed, this action may be dismissed pursuant to Rule 4(m) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. IT IS SO ORDERED.

ECF No. 5 (“First Instructive Text Order”). The following day, Pepper-Jeridore's counsel filed a document entitled “Proof of Service, ” in which a paralegal of plaintiff's counsel's firm testified to her service of Burger King via certified mail. ECF No. 7.

         On July 26, 2019, Magistrate Judge Baker issued a second text order which stated:

The docket reflects that the Summons and Complaint were served on the Defendant on April 25, 2019. However, no responsive pleading has been filed, nor has a default been entered under Rule 55, Fed.R.Civ.P. Therefore, unless by August 19, 2019, either an Answer or other responsive pleading is filed by the Defendant or a Rule 55 default is entered by the Plaintiff, a recommendation for dismissal for failure to prosecute pursuant to Rule 41, Fed.R.Civ.P. will be entered. IT IS SO ORDERED.

ECF No. 8 (“Second Instructive Text Order”). Counsel for Peppers-Jeridore did not comply with the court's order, failing to make any filings by the August 19th deadline. Accordingly, on August 22, 2019, Magistrate Judge Baker filed a report and recommendation (“R&R”) recommending that this court dismiss the action with prejudice for failure to prosecute pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 41(b). ECF No. 22. The same day, Peppers-Jeridore's counsel filed motion for entry of default. ECF No. 10. Magistrate Judge Baker granted Pepper-Jeridore's motion, vacated the R&R, and directed the clerk to enter default. ECF No. 11.

         Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b), after the clerk enters default, a plaintiff “must apply to the court for a default judgment.” In spite of Rule 55, two and a half months passed after the clerk's entry of default without Peppers-Jeridore's counsel making a single filing. Based on that inaction, Magistrate Judge Baker issued another text order on November 5, 2019:

On August 23, 2019, the Court granted Plaintiffs Motion for Entry of Default. Nothing has been filed by any parties since that time. Therefore, unless by November 18, 2019, Plaintiffs move for default judgment in accordance with Fed.R.Civ.P. 55, a recommendation for dismissal for failure to prosecute pursuant to Rule 41, Fed.R.Civ.P. will be entered. IT IS SO ORDERED.

         ECF No. 15 (“Third Instructive Text Order”). On the day of the court-imposed deadline for its filing, counsel for Peppers-Jeridore filed the instant “Memorandum in Support of Damages.” ECF No. 16. Nowhere in the memorandum does counsel request that the court grant default judgment. Instead, the memorandum computes the damages to which Peppers-Jeridore is allegedly entitled.

         II. ...


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