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Golden Triangle Vein Center v. Total Body Contouring Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division

March 28, 2018

GOLDEN TRIANGLE VEIN CENTER and DR. DARYL GUEST PLAINTIFFS
v.
TOTAL BODY CONTOURING INCORPORATED and KEVIN LEROY SIMONS DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          Debra M. Brown UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Golden Triangle Vein Center and Dr. Daryl Guest's “Renewed Motion for Default Judgment on the Issue of Damages.” Doc. #36.

         I

         Procedural Background

         On August 10, 2015, Golden Triangle Vein Center and Dr. Daryl Guest filed a complaint against Total Body Contouring Incorporated (“Total Body”) and Kevin Leroy Simons, claiming breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and fraud/negligent misrepresentation regarding a Lipocontrol Osyris 980 Diode Laser Machine for which they paid $96, 670.00 but never received. Doc. #1. On April 13, 2016, the Clerk of the Court, on the plaintiffs' application, entered default against Total Body and Simons. Doc. #17; Doc. #18. Approximately one week later, the plaintiffs filed a motion for default judgment. Doc. #19.

         After this Court deferred decision on the motion for default judgment, the plaintiffs filed a supplement to their motion. Doc. #27. On March 23, 2017, the Court granted default judgment on the plaintiffs' breach of contract claim but denied it on the claims for unjust enrichment, negligent misrepresentation, and fraudulent misrepresentation. Doc. #31. The Court's order denied the motion without prejudice on the issue of damages. Id. On April 14, 2017, the plaintiffs filed the instant “Renewed Motion for Default Judgment on the Issue of Damages.” Doc. #36.

         II

         Discussion

         Following a default judgment “[a] plaintiff bears the burden of proving his damages.Niemi v. Lasshofer, 770 F.3d 1331, 1355 (10th Cir. 2014); see Flynn v. People's Choice Home Loans, Inc., 440 F. App'x 452, 457 (6th Cir. 2011) (after default judgment, “the burden of establishing damages rest[s] squarely and solely” on plaintiff). Generally, a district court may only award damages without an evidentiary hearing if “the amount claimed is a liquidated sum or one capable of mathematical calculation.” James v. Frame, 6 F.3d 307, 310 (5th Cir. 1993).

         Regarding damages, “[a] default judgment must not differ in kind from, or exceed in amount, what is demanded in the pleadings.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(c). Therefore, “the relief prayed for in a complaint defines the scope of relief available on default judgment.” United States v. Giles, 538 F.Supp.2d 990, 994 (W.D. Tex. 2008); see Silge v. Merz, 510 F.3d 157, 160 (2d Cir. 2007) (Rule 54(c) “permits neither increases ‘in kind ... or ... in amount' from the figure specified in the demand for judgment”). If the requested relief does not differ in kind from, or exceed in amount, what is demanded in the pleadings, the Court must then determine “if the requested relief is appropriate based on governing law.” Fagan v. Lawrence Nathan Assocs., Inc., 957 F.Supp.2d 784, 801 (E.D. La. 2013).

         Here, in the complaint's prayer for relief, the plaintiffs request “compensatory damages, punitive damages, pre-judgment and post-judgment interest, costs, and all other relief to which they may show themselves justly entitled.” Doc. #1 at 10. Elsewhere in the complaint, the plaintiffs claim entitlement to the amount paid for the machine, and that they have suffered damages that include lost business opportunities, expenses associated with training, costs, attorney's fees, and other damages. Id. at 7-8.

         In their renewed motion for damages, however, the plaintiffs contend that under Miss. Code Ann. §§ 75-2-711 and 75-2-713, they are entitled to recover the amount paid to the seller as well as incidental and consequential damages. Doc. #37 at 2-3. Specifically, the plaintiffs seek recovery for (1) the amount paid to the defendants for the machine; (2) “special damages under the UCC” incurred in reliance on the defendants' representation that they would receive the machine (such as $4, 112.79 for travel expenses to and from Chattanooga, Tennessee, for training in anticipation of receiving the machine; $2, 600.00 for office renovations to accommodate the machine, and $4, 586.21 for supplies to be used with the machine); and (3) pre- and post-judgment interest. Id. at 3-5.

         While Mississippi's Uniform Commercial Code allows for the recovery of consequential and incidental damages, nowhere in their complaint do the plaintiffs seek consequential or incidental damages. Nor do the plaintiffs assert allegations relating to office renovations or the purchase of extra supplies. Because a plaintiff can only recover from a defaulted defendant relief requested in the pleadings, the Court cannot consider the plaintiffs' request for incidental and consequential damages.[1] See Silge, 510 F.3d at 159-60 (plaintiff not entitled to pre-judgment interest against defaulted defendant because such not requested in complaint); Pa. Nat. Mut. Cas. Ins. Co. v. Edmonds, No. 09-0089, 2010 WL 761332, at *7 (S.D. Ala. Mar. 3, 2010) (categories of compensatory damages not demanded in complaint excluded from damages). Accordingly, the Court will consider only the plaintiffs' request for recovery of the contract price and pre- and post-judgment interest.

         A. ...


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