March 2, 2010

Default Judgment Entered Against Distributing Agent Originally Appearing Thru Counsel

Jeepster Recordings Ltd. v. World's Fair Label Group Inc., 09 Civ. 2155, NYLJ 3/2/10 "Decision of Interest" (S.D.N.Y. decided Feb. 22, 2010).

Plaintiff and Defendant entered into an agreement under which Defendant would become Plaintiff's North American distribution agent. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant failed to meet is distribution, accounting, and sales obligations, and withheld contractually obligated royalties owed to Plaintiff.

After the action commenced, Defendant's counsel withdrew and Defendant did not obtain alternative counsel. Thereafter, Plaintiff moved for default judgment seeking to recover monies that were allegedly improperly retained in breach of the distribution agreement.

"In this case, the allegations in the Complaint, coupled with [Defendant]'s failure to retain counsel and prosecute the case, support the entering of a default judgment and a finding that Defendant is liable for breach of the distribution agreement. "


"Although [Defendant] initially appeared, it has failed to retain counsel and has indicated that it does not intend to. As a corporate entity, [Defendant] can only appear through counsel. [Cit. om.]. The failure to retain counsel thus constitutes a failure to appear for further proceedings. Even though default judgments are generally disfavored, [Defendant]'s conduct indicates that it had the capability to defend itself, and its withdrawal and cessation of prosccution was willful and voluntary. While [Defendant] filed an answer and conducted some discovery, it did not raise any meritorious defenses. Finally, a denial of default judgment would prejudice [Plaintiff] because it has actively pursued its claims to recover monies under its agreement with [Defendant], and has not contributed to the default."