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When deciding whether to set aside an entry of default, a district court should consider whether the moving party has a meritorious defense, whether it acts with reasonable promptness, the personal responsibility of the defaulting party, the prejudice to the party, whether there is a history of dilatory action, and the availability of sanctions less drastic. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(c) (providing that '[f]or good cause shown the court may set aside an entry of default').

Courts have repeatedly expressed a strong preference that, as a general matter, defaults be avoided and that claims and defenses be disposed of on their merits. E.g., Tazco, Inc. v. Director, Office of Workers Compensation Program, U.S. Dep't of Labor, 895 F.2d 949, 950 (4th Cir. 1990) ('The law disfavors default judgments as a general matter.'); Consolidated Masonry & Fireproofing, 383 F.2d at 251 ('Generally a default should be set aside where the moving party acts with reasonable promptness and alleges a meritorious defense.'). This imperative arises in myriad procedural contexts, but its primacy is never doubted. Albeit in the context of determining the preclusive effect of a dismissal under Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(a)(2) (providing for voluntary dismissal with ...

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