United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
MACK FINANCIAL SERVICES, ET AL.
SUGARLAND EXPRESS LLC, ET AL.
ORDER & REASONS
M. AFRICK, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is plaintiffs Mack Financial Services (“Mack
Financial”) and VFS Leasing Company's
(“VFS”) (collectively, the
“plaintiffs”) motion for entry of a default
judgment against defendants Sugarland Express, LLC
(“Sugarland Express”), TAK, L.L.C.
(“TAK”), Arabie Trucking Services, LLC
(“Arabie Trucking”), Myrna Arabie, and Sandy
Arabie (collectively, the “defendants”). The
plaintiffs request that the Court enter a judgment in their
favor and award contractual damages, injunctive relief,
pre-judgment interest, post-judgment interest, attorneys'
fees, and costs. For the following reasons, the motion is
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 set aside the default on the defendant's
motion.” Lindsey v. Prive Corp., 161 F.3d 886,
893 (5th Cir. 1998).
defendants were served on November 11, 2018, and their
responsive pleadings were due November 23,
2018. As of this date, the defendants have
yet to file responsive pleadings or make an appearance. On
November 28, 2018, the Clerk of Court entered a default
against the defendants for failure to plead or otherwise
defend themselves,  and on January 22, 2019, the
plaintiffs moved for a default judgment. The Court must
determine whether, accepting the well-pleaded factual
allegations in the plaintiffs' verified complaint as
true, the plaintiffs are entitled to a judgment against the
defendants for the amounts specified in their motion, in
addition to an award of pre-judgment interest, post-judgment
interest, and attorneys' fees and costs.
plaintiffs assert breach of contract claims under Louisiana
law. In support of such claims, the
plaintiffs have provided summary judgment-type evidence. Upon
review of the verified complaint and its exhibits, the
present motion, and the affidavits attached to the motion,
the Court is satisfied that the plaintiffs are entitled to a
default judgment against the defendants for their claims.
respect to damages, the Court cannot enter a default judgment
without a hearing “unless the amount is liquidated or
easily computable.” Richardson v. Salvation Army S.
Territory, USA, No. 98-10151, 1998 WL 723820, at *1 (5th
Cir. 1998). In support of their motion, the plaintiffs
submitted an affidavit from Tara Disher Maxey, the
plaintiffs' duly authorized agent with respect to the
relevant contracts, which establishes the basis for the
plaintiffs' demands. Additionally, attached to the
verified complaint are the contracts; addendums, assignments,
and modifications; title certificates; and other relevant
Court concludes that the amount demanded constitutes a sum
certain in that it is the balance owed on several contracts
entered into between the plaintiffs and the defendants.
See Duncan v. Tangipahoa Parish Council, No.
08-3840, 2009 WL 2514150, at *1 (E.D. La. Aug. 12, 2009)
(Engelhardt, J.) (explaining that “[a] sum is certain
when the amount claimed is a liquidated one or is one that is
capable of mathematical calculation as, for example, an
action on a promissory note”). Furthermore, the ...