Court Grants Motion Seeking Default Judgment on Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment Claim

In Ventura v. City of New York, No. 153283/2023, 2024 WL 1051928 (N.Y. Sup Ct, New York County Mar. 6, 2024), the court granted plaintiff’s motion for default judgment under New York Civil Practice Law and Rules 3215.

From the decision:

In this action to recover damages for alleged sexual harassment discrimination, plaintiff AMMY VENTURA (“plaintiff”) moves, pursuant to CPLR § 3215, for the entry of a default judgment against defendant WIDLER LUCAS (“defendant”). Plaintiff alleges that defendant sexually harassed plaintiff in a quidpro quo manner, and then sexually assaulted her in his office when he forced her to perform oral sex on him without her consent. Notably, the City of New York is no longer a party in this action following the submission of a fully executed Stipulation of Discontinuance (NYSCEF Doc. No. 40).

CPLR § 3215 (a) provides, in pertinent part, that when “a defendant has failed to appear, plead or proceed to trial … the plaintiff may seek a default judgment against him [or her].” To establish his or her entitlement to a default judgment, the movant must demonstrate proof of service of the summons and complaint, proof of the facts constituting the claim and proof of the default. (see PV Holding Corp. v AB Quality Health Supply Corp., 189 AD3d 645,646 [1st Dept 2020]; Gantt vNorth Shore-LIJHealth Sys., 140 AD3d 418, 418 [1st Dept 2016].) It is well settled that CPLR § 3215 “does not contemplate that default judgments are to be rubber-stamped once jurisdiction and a failure to appear have been shown. Some proof of liability is also required to satisfy the court as to the prima facie validity of the uncontested cause of action” (Guzelli v City of New York, 32 AD3d 234, 235 [1st Dept 2006] [McGuire, J., concurring], quoting Joosten v Gale, 129 AD2d 531, 535 [1st Dept 1987]).

Here, plaintiff submitted sufficient proof to demonstrate that defendant was served with the complaint on April 14, 2023 through the New York City Police Department Legal Bureau, who was authorized to accept service on plaintiff’s behalf. Moreover, plaintiff complied with the additional mailing requirements set forth in CPLR § 3215(g)(3)(i). In addition, further notice was provided by mailing a copy of the default motion to defendant’s criminal attorney, John Arlia, Esq. As such, defendant was originally properly served, and was also served repeatedly of plaintiff’s various filings in this case. At every turn, defendant has failed to appear in this matter and answer the allegations levied against him. Likewise, upon this court’s review of pleadings and documents provided in support of the motion, plaintiff has sufficiently shown that defendant is in default, as his answering papers were due on or before Monday May 15, 2023, and that defendant has no justifiable excuse for not answering. Moreover, defendant has presented no meritorious defense to this action.

Accordingly, the court concluded that “[a]s plaintiff has sufficiently shown that defendant was served, and has provided proof of the facts constituting plaintiff’s claim and defendant’s proof of default, the motion is granted.”

Share This: