Perez v. Wells Fargo, No. 13-13853 (11th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
This appeal stemmed from plaintiff's suit against Wells Fargo after Wells Fargo closed her bank accounts and refused to return the money in her accounts. The court concluded that plaintiff defaulted on Wells Fargo’s counterclaim when she failed to file a timely answer. So her request for leave to file an out-of-time answer to Wells Fargo’s counterclaim should have been analyzed as a motion to set aside an entry of default under the more forgiving Rule 55(c) standard as opposed to the more exacting Rule 6(b)(1)(B) standard. Because plaintiff’s failure to respond to Wells Fargo’s counterclaim meant that the pleadings had not yet closed, the district court’s evaluation of Wells Fargo’s motion for judgment on the pleadings was premature. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's order granting Wells Fargo's motion for judgment on the pleadings and remanded for the district court to consider plaintiff's motion under Rule 55(c). Even if Wells Fargo's motion could have been properly considered as a motion for judgment on the pleadings, it should have been denied. Because the construction of a contract is a question of law for the court, the contents of the Agreement must be evaluated in determining whether Wells Fargo was entitled to judgment as a matter of law on its motion for judgment on the pleadings. The court also reversed the district court's order denying plaintiff's motion to file an amended complaint and remanded for further proceedings because the district court was required to review the actual contract at issue in evaluating whether amendment of the complaint would necessarily be futile. Because the court reversed the order granting judgment on the pleadings for Wells Fargo, on which the award of attorney's fees was based, the court remanded the attorney's fee issue.