United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
GRANITE STATE INSURANCE CO., ET AL.
DELTA MARINE ENVIRONMENTAL, LLC
ORDER & REASONS
M. AFRICK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is plaintiffs Granite State Insurance Company and
Commerce & Industry Insurance Company's
(collectively, the “plaintiffs”) motion for entry
of a default judgment against defendant Delta Marine
Environmental, LLC (“Delta Marine”). The
plaintiffs request that the Court enter a judgment in their
favor and against Delta Marine in the amount of $304, 488.00.
They also request pre-judgment interest at an annual rate of
5% and post-judgment interest at the statutory rate until the
judgment is paid in full. For the following reasons, the
motion is granted.
plaintiffs allege that they issued a workers'
compensation insurance policy (the “policy”) to
Delta Marine beginning in May 2015. The policy period ran from
April 30, 2015 to April 30, 2016 (the “first policy
period”). The plaintiffs allege that Delta Marine
owed a total of $336, 668 with respect to the first policy
period; that Delta Marine paid $318, 307; and that the
remaining balance due for the first policy period is $18,
November 2016, the plaintiffs allegedly renewed the policy
for the period between April 30, 2016 and April 30, 2017 (the
“second policy period”). The plaintiffs allege that
Delta Marine owed a total of $340, 522 for the second policy
period; that Delta Marine paid the plaintiffs $85, 128; and
that Delta Marine has a remaining balance due for the second
policy period of $255, 394.
in April 2017, the policy was allegedly renewed for the
period between April 30, 2017 and April 30, 2018 (the
“third policy period”). With respect to the third
policy period, the plaintiffs allege that Delta Marine owed a
total of $56, 703; that Delta Marine was charged a $30 fee;
that it paid $26, 000; and that the remaining balance due for
the third policy period is $30, 733.
total amount that Delta Marine allegedly owes the plaintiffs
based on the outstanding balance amounts from each of the
three policy periods is $304, 488.Asserting a breach of
contract claim, the plaintiffs filed this lawsuit against
Delta Marine on April 4, 2018.
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b), the Court may enter
a default judgment against a party when it fails to plead or
otherwise respond to the plaintiff's complaint within the
required time period. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b). A plaintiff who
seeks a default judgment against an unresponsive defendant
must proceed with a two-step process.
the plaintiff must petition the clerk for an entry of
default, which is simply “the placement of a notation
of the party's default on the clerk's record of the
case.” Dow Chem. Pac. Ltd. v. Rascator Mar.
S.A., 782 F.2d 329, 335 (2d Cir. 1986); see also
United States v. Hansen, 795 F.2d 35, 37 (7th Cir. 1986)
(describing the entry of default as “an intermediate,
ministerial, nonjudicial, virtually meaningless docket
entry”). Before the clerk may enter the default, the
plaintiff must show “by affidavit or otherwise”
that the defendant “has failed to plead or otherwise
defend.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). Beyond that requirement,
the entry of default is largely mechanical.
the defendant's default has been entered, the plaintiff
may request the entry of a judgment on the default. In that
context, the court deems the plaintiff's well-pleaded
factual allegations admitted. See Nishimatsu Const. Co.,
Ltd. v. Houston Nat'l Bank, 515 F.2d 1200, 1206 (5th
Cir. 1975). At the same time, the court does not hold the
defaulting defendant “to [have] admitt[ed] facts that
are not well-pleaded or to [have] admitt[ed] conclusions of
law.” Id. The default judgment should not be
entered unless the judgment is “‘supported by
well-pleaded allegations' and . . . ha[s] ‘a
sufficient basis in the pleadings.'” Wooten v.
McDonald Transit Assocs., Inc., 788 F.3d 490, 498 (5th
Cir. 2015) (quoting Nishimatsu, 515 F.2d at 1206).
plaintiff's claim is for a sum certain and the defendant
has not made an appearance in court, the clerk may enter a
default judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(1). In all other cases,
“the party must apply to the court for a default
judgment.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2). No. party is entitled
to a default judgment as a matter of right. Lewis v.
Lynn, 236 F.3d 766, 767 (5th Cir. 2001) (per curiam).
The disposition of a motion for the entry of a default
judgment ultimately rests within the sound discretion of the
court. Mason v. Lister, 562 F.2d 343, 345 (5th Cir.
Court is entitled to consider many factors when determining
whether to enter a default judgment including, “whether
material issues of fact are at issue, whether there has been
substantial prejudice, whether the grounds for default are
clearly established, whether the default was caused by a good
faith mistake or excusable neglect, the harshness of a
default judgment, and whether the court would think itself
obliged to ...