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Comparison definition. In Rule 55(c) leaves to the discretion of the trial judge the decision whether to set aside an entry of default. However, a strong preference for trials on the merits in federal courts has led to the adoption of a somewhat modified standard of review where defaults are involved. In United Coin we wrote: Trials on the merits are favored in federal courts and a 'glaring abuse' of discretion is not required for reversal of a court's refusal to relieve a party of the harsh sanction of default. 705 F.2d at 846 (citing Keegel, 627 F.2d at 373-74). The Fifth Circuit came to a similar conclusion in Williams v. New Orleans Public Service, Inc., 728 F.2d 730, 733-34 (1984): We recognize . . . that such a standard does not vest the trial court with completely unfettered discretion . . . . When the grant of a default judgment precludes consideration of the merits of a case, 'even a slight abuse [of discretion] may justify reversal.'


Since entry of default is just the first procedural step on the road to obtaining a default judgment, the same policy of favoring trials on the merits ...

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