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Cain v. Consumers Solutions Group, LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division

May 21, 2018

ADRIAN CAIN, Plaintiff,
v.
CONSUMERS SOLUTIONS GROUP, LLC and JONATHAN C. FRANK & ASSOCIATES, LLC, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          VIRGINIA EMERSON HOPKINS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         The above-entitled civil action is before the Court on Plaintiff Adrian Cain's Motion for Default Judgment (the "Motion"). (Doc. 28). Cain seeks a judgment by default against Defendants Consumers Solutions Group, LLC ("CSG") and Jonathan C. Frank & Associates, LLC ("Jonathan Frank").

         Cain filed the complaint in this action on December 19, 2016. (Doc. 1). She filed her Amended Complaint on August 18, 2017. (Doc. 27). In her Amended Complaint, Cain alleges that the Defendants violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. (Id. at 2-6).

         CSG was served on December 21, 2016. (Doc. 6). On January 24, 2017, after CSG failed to appear, answer, or otherwise defend, Cain filed a Motion for Entry of Default. (Doc. 10). The Clerk filed the Entry of Default against CSG on January 25, 2017. (Doc. 12).

         Jonathan Frank was served on May 2, 2017. (Doc. 19). On May 24, 2017, after Jonathan Frank failed to appear, answer, or otherwise defend, Cain filed a Motion for Entry of Default. (Doc. 20). The Clerk filed the Entry of Default against Jonathan Frank on May 26, 2017. (Doc. 22).

         On August 4, 2017, Cain moved to dismiss his class claims against CSG. (Doc. 25). The Court then ordered Cain "to file an amended complaint that eliminates the class allegations in Count IV." (Doc. 26 at 3). Cain was instructed to seek leave from the Court to make any other changes. (See id.). Cain filed her Amended Complaint on August 18, 2017. (Doc. 27). She filed her Motion for Default Judgment that is the subject of this memorandum opinion and order on February 15, 2018. (Doc. 28). As support for the Motion for Default Judgment, Cain submitted an affidavit. (Doc. 28-2).

         For the reasons stated in this opinion, the Motion is due to be GRANTED in part and otherwise DENIED.

         II. The Defendants' Failed To Move To Set Aside the Entry of Default

         The Court ordered the Defendants to show cause by April 11, 2018, why the motion should not be granted. (Doc. 29). The Court received an opposition to Cain's Motion on May 4, 2018. (Doc. 36). As outlined in this Court's memorandum opinion and order from May 8, 2018, this opposition was untimely, inadequate, and improper. (Doc. 37). The Court's opinion laid out a detailed explanation of the inadequacies of the opposition. (Id. at 4-6). However, out of an abundance of caution, the Court gave the Defendants an additional seven days from May 8, 2018, to enter the appearance of an attorney admitted to practice in the Northern District of Alabama and to move the Court to set aside the entry of default. (Id. at 7). Those seven days have come and gone with no response- further showing that the Defendants have no serious intention of defending in this action. Accordingly, the following opinion is due to be entered.

         III. The Motion for Default Judgment Is Due To Be Granted

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55 provides in pertinent part:

(a) Entering a Default. When a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend, and that failure is shown by affidavit or otherwise, the clerk must enter the party's default.
(b) Entering a Default Judgment.(2) By the Court. In all other cases, the party must apply to the court for a default judgment. A default judgment may be entered against a minor or incompetent person only if represented by a general guardian, conservator, or other like fiduciary who has appeared. If the party against whom a default judgment is sought has appeared personally or by a representative, that party or its representative must be served with written notice of the application at least 7 days before the hearing. The court may conduct hearings or make referrals-preserving any federal statutory right to a jury trial-when, to enter or effectuate judgment, it needs to:

         (A) conduct an accounting;

(B) determine the amount of damages;

         (C) establish the truth of any allegation by evidence; or

(D) investigate any other matter.

Fed.R.Civ.P. 55.

         Because default has been entered against the Defendants, the allegations of Cain's Amended Complaint are taken as true. See 10A Charles Alan Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Mary Kay Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2688 (3d ed. 1998) ("If the court determines that defendant is in default, the factual allegations of the complaint, except those relating to the amount of damages, will be taken as true.").

         The Court's analysis of Cain's Motion for Default Judgment involves a two-step process. First, the Court must satisfy itself that it has jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter of the lawsuit. See Taylor v. Appleton, 30 F.3d 1365, 1367 (11th Cir. 1994) (holding that district courts "always have an obligation to examine sua sponte their jurisdiction before reaching the merits of any claim"). Second, the Court must ensure that Cain has satisfied the elements of Rule 55 and is entitled to the default judgment it seeks. See Nishimatsu Constr. Co v. Houston Nat 7 Bank, 515 F.2d 1200, 1206 (5th Cir. 1975)[1] (explaining that "a defendant's default does not in itself warrant the court entering a default judgment" and that "[t]here must be a sufficient basis in the pleadings for the judgment entered").

         A. ...


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