Resolving litigation by default is disfavored because of "the strong
policies favoring the resolution of genuine disputes on their merits.
. . ." Jackson v. Beech, 636 F.2d 831, 835 (D.C. Cir. 1980).*fn1
Thus, entry of default may be set aside merely "for good cause shown."
In determining whether good cause is shown, courts balance three
factors: whether "1) the default was willful, 2) a set-aside would
prejudice plaintiff, and 3) the alleged defense was meritorious. . . ."
Keegel v. Key West & Caribbean Trading Co., 627 F.2d 372, 373 (D.C.
Cir. 1980); see also Baade v. Price, 175 F.R.D. 403, 405-406 (D.D.C.
1997) (citing Jackson, 636 F.2d at 836).
In assessing the factual circumstances asserted by the parties, "all
doubts are resolved in favor of the party seeking relief." Jackson, 636
F.2d at 836 (citation omitted).
Defendants offer two explanations for their delay. They say that the
escalating Palestinian-Israeli conflict hampered communications necessary
to prepare a response, and that defendants needed to coordinate their
positions taken in multiple pending cases. Defendants have supplied no
specifics — by proffer, affidavit, or otherwise — to support
these claims. They have failed to identify who sought to communicate with
whom and how, when it was, what specific events prevented the contacts,
and what specifically prevented any claimed need to coordinate their
Most tellingly, defendants never sought from the Court or the
plaintiffs an extension on their deadline, and wholly fail to explain why
they did not or could not. Defendants' explanations for their delay sound
more like hollow excuses. My duty to accord the defendants the benefit of
the doubt, however, keeps me from finding defendants' default to have
The second factor is whether setting aside default would prejudice the
plaintiffs. Plaintiffs do not argue that it would, nor is any possible
prejudice apparent. This case is procedurally in its early stages. No
discovery has been conducted, and no summary judgment motions have been
In addition, the plaintiffs' entire case against the remaining
defendants lies ahead of them.
Finally, regarding the presence of a meritorious defense, defendants
have raised in their proposed motion to dismiss several affirmative
defenses, including lack of subject matter jurisdiction, lack of in
personam jurisdiction and non-justiciability. It is too early in this
litigation to gauge the strength of those defenses, but the "[l]ikelihood
of success is not the measure" here. Keegel, 627 F.2d at 374.
"Defendants' allegations are meritorious if they contain even a hint of a
suggestion which, proven at trial, would constitute a complete defense."
Id. (citations and internal quotations omitted). Defendants' proffered
defenses meet this standard.
Because this case should be resolved on the merits and the
circumstances do not support allowing the entry of default to remain,
defendants' motion to set aside default will be granted. Because
defendants were not wholly unresponsive litigants, but were simply,
albeit inexcusably, late in responding, plaintiffs' motion for default
judgment will be denied. Therefore, it is hereby
ORDERED that defendants' motion and amended motion to set aside default
18] be, and hereby are, GRANTED, and the defaults [11, 12] entered
against the defendants are hereby VACATED. It is further
ORDERED that the plaintiffs' motion for entry of default judgment 
be, and hereby is, DENIED. It is further
ORDERED that defendants' motion and amended motion for leave to file
motion to dismiss [13, 18] be, and hereby are, GRANTED. The Clerk shall
file and docket defendants' motion to dismiss second amended complaint
that is attached to defendants' motion for leave to file . Plaintiffs
shall have 60 days from the date this Order is signed to respond. It is
ORDERED that plaintiffs' motion in the alternative for discovery, and
to stay  be, and hereby is, DENIED.