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Crowley v. LMS Intellibound, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

April 25, 2018

SHAWN CROWLEY
v.
LMS INTELLIBOUND, LLC

         SECTION: “J” (2)

          ORDER AND REASONS

          CARL J. BARBIER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is a Motion for Default Judgment (Rec. Doc. 9), filed by Plaintiff, Shawn Crowley, in which Plaintiff seeks a default judgment against Defendant, LMS Intellibound, LLC (d/b/a Capstone Logistics, LLC) (“LMS (d/b/a Capstone)”). The Court held an evidentiary hearing on Friday, February 16, 2018, after which the Court took the matter under advisement. Having considered the motion and legal memoranda, the record, and the applicable law, the Court finds that the motion should be GRANTED.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On or about June 18, 2017, Plaintiff, a vacuum operator employed by Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc. (“AWG”), was working at AWG's warehouse when a forklift struck him, knocked him to the ground, and ran over his left leg. The operator of the forklift was an employee of LMS (d/b/a Capstone), a subcontractor tasked with unloading trucks at the warehouse. As a result of the incident, Plaintiff suffered severe injuries to his left leg, including a large laceration from his heel up to the back of his knee. Plaintiff continues to suffer from various medical issues as a result of this incident.

         On August 24, 2017, Plaintiff filed a complaint in this Court, wherein Plaintiff alleges that LMS (d/b/a Capstone) is vicariously liable for the negligence of the forklift operator that caused his injuries. (Rec. Doc. 1.) LMS (d/b/a Capstone) was served by private process server through its agent of service of process on September 8, 2017. (Rec. Doc. 21.) The time to file responsive pleadings has since long expired. To date, LMS (d/b/a Capstone) has failed to request an extension, plead, or otherwise defend the action against it. Upon Plaintiff's motion, the Clerk of Court entered an entry of default against LMS (d/b/a Capstone) on January 5, 2018. (Rec. Doc. 8.) On January 8, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Default Judgment. (Rec. Doc. 9.) The Court held an evidentiary hearing on Friday, February 16, 2018, after which the Court took the matter under advisement. The motion is now before the Court.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has adopted a three step process to obtain a default judgment. See New York Life Ins. Co. v. Brown, 84 F.3d 137, 141 (5th Cir. 1996). First, a default occurs when a party “has failed to plead or otherwise defend” against an action. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). Next, an entry of default must be entered by the clerk when the default is shown “by affidavit or otherwise.” See id.; NewYork Life, 84 F.3d at 141. Third, a party may apply to the court for a default judgment after an entry of default. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b); New York Life, 84 F.3d at 141.

         After a party files for a default judgment, courts must apply a two-part process to determine whether a default judgment should be entered. First, a court must consider whether the entry of default judgment is appropriate under the circumstances. Lindsey v. Prive Corp., 161 F.3d 886, 893 (5th Cir. 1998). Several factors are relevant to this inquiry, including: (1) whether there are material issues of fact at issue, (2) whether there has been substantial prejudice, (3) whether the grounds for default have been clearly established, (4) whether the default was caused by excusable neglect or good faith mistake, (5) the harshness of the default judgment, and (6) whether the court would think itself obliged to set aside the default on a motion by Defendant. Id. at *2. Second, the Court must assess the merits of the plaintiff's claims and determine whether the plaintiff has a claim for relief. Nishimatsu Constr. Co. v. Houston Nat'l Bank, 515 F.2d 1200, 1206 (5th Cir. 1975); Hamdan v. Tiger Bros. Food Mart, Inc., 2016 WL 1192679, at *2 (M.D. La. Mar. 22, 2016). By defaulting, a defendant admits to the plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations of fact, at least with respect to liability. Jackson v. FIE Corp., 302 F.3d 515, 524 (5th Cir. 2002) (citing Nishimatsu Constr. Co., Ltd. v. Hous. Nat'l Bank, 515 F.2d 1200, 1206 (5th Cir. 1975)). Even though the facts are admitted, the plaintiff still has the burden of showing that they give rise to a viable cause of action. See Nishimatsu Constr., 515 F.2d at 1206.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Venue and Subject Matter Jurisdiction

          First, the Court must establish that venue and subject matter jurisdiction have been properly asserted in this case. The incident at issue occurred in St. Tammany Parish, which is within the bounds of this district. Therefore, venue is proper. Plaintiff invoked diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 because the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000 and there is complete diversity between the parties. Plaintiff is a Louisiana resident. With regard to LMS (d/b/a Capstone), the Court is satisfied based on the evidence submitted that it is more probable than not that the LMS and Capstone LLCs do not contain any members who are domiciled or residents in Louisiana.[1]Therefore, the Court finds that diversity jurisdiction has also been properly established.

         B. Default Judgment is Appropriate under the Lindsey Factors

         Considering the Lindsey factors, the Court finds that the entry of default judgment is appropriate under the circumstances. First, there are no material facts in dispute because Defendant failed to file an answer or Rule 12 motion. Second, Defendant has failed to respond to Plaintiff's correspondence.[2] Third, the grounds for granting a default judgment against Defendant are clearly established, as evidenced by the procedural history and the Clerk's entry of default. Fourth, the Court has no basis to find that Defendant's failure to respond was the result of a good faith mistake or excusable neglect because Defendant has failed to respond to Plaintiff or the Court. Fifth, Defendant's failure to file any responsive pleading or motion mitigates the harshness of a default judgment. ...


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