United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Western Division
ORDER AND OPINION
BRAMLETTE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
and Maxcine Ross move the Court to enter a default judgment
against Miss/Lou Mobile Home Movers, LLC
(“Miss/Lou”). For the reasons that follow, the
motion is DENIED.
dispute arises from Earl and Maxcine Ross's purchase of a
mobile home that they describe as
“uninhabitable.” The Rosses originally sued five
defendants involved in the manufacture, sale, or
transportation of the mobile home. See Doc. 1, ¶¶
B-F. Only one defendant -- Miss/Lou -- remains. The Court
compelled the Rosses to arbitrate their claims against
Quality Homes of McComb, Inc., the home's retail-seller,
and Platinum Homes, LLC, the home's manufacturer. See
Doc. 40. And the Court dismissed with prejudice the
Rosses' claims against Joey Harbin, a Platinum Homes
employee, and U.S. Bank, N.A., the bank that financed the
Rosses' mobile home purchase. See Doc. 48.
was charged with transporting and installing the Rosses'
mobile home. See Doc. 1, ¶ C. But how and to what extent
it is involved in this dispute is unclear; its name is
mentioned just once in the complaint, in the section
identifying the parties. See Doc. 1, ¶ C. And Miss/Lou
is not the focus of any of the complaint's nine
counts. See Doc. 1, Counts I-IX.
registered agent, David Nichols, was served with process on
May 8, 2017 at 7907 Huckleberry Lane, Summit, Mississippi
39666. See Doc. 4, p. 2. Despite proper service, Miss/Lou
failed to plead or otherwise defend the Rosses' suit. The
Clerk of Court thus entered a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
55(a) default against Miss/Lou on June 18, 2018. See Doc. 54.
to the Clerk of Court's entry of default, the Rosses now
ask the Court to enter a default judgment against Miss/Lou.
See Doc. 55.
applying for and obtaining an entry of default, the Rosses
moved for entry of a default judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P.
55(a)-(b). The Rosses are commended for following the proper
Rule 55 sequence, but that, by itself, is no guarantee that a
default judgment will be entered against Miss/Lou.
Nishimatsu Const. Co. v. Houston Nat. Bank, 515
F.2d 1200, 1206 (5th Cir. 1975) (Wisdom, J.).
defendant in default admits only those facts that are
well-pleaded -- it does not admit legal conclusions.
Trout Point Lodge, Ltd. v. Handshoe, 729 F.3d 481,
491 (5th Cir. 2013). And the Fifth Circuit “h[as]
adopted a policy in favor of resolving cases on their merits
and against the use of default judgments.” In
re Chinese Manufactured Drywall Prods. Liability
Litig., 742 F.3d 576, 594 (5th Cir. 2014) (citing
Rogers v. Hartford Life & Accident Ins. Co., 167
F.3d 933, 936 (5th Cir. 1999)).
Court cannot enter a default judgment against Miss/Lou unless
the Rosses' complaint contains well-pleaded allegations
that provide the Court with a “sufficient basis”
for doing so. Wooten V. McDonald Transit Assocs.,
Inc., 788 F.3d 490, 498 (5th Cir. 2015). And to provide
the Court with a “sufficient basis, ” the
Rosses' complaint must allege a plausible claim against
Miss/Lou. Handshoe, 729 F.3d at 491 (citing DynaSteel
Corp. v. Aztec Indus., Inc., 611 So.2d 977, 988 (Miss.
1992); Lewis v. Lynn, 236 F.3d 766, 767 (5th Cir.
2001) (per curiam) (affirming denial of default judgment when
allegations of complaint, even if assumed true, failed to
allege a claim against the defendant in default).
Rosses' complaint must contain a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the Rosses are entitled
to relief. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). To show that they are
entitled to relief, the Rosses must plead a plausible claim:
A claim supported by factual allegations that allow the Court
to reasonably infer that Miss/Lou is liable for the
misconduct alleged. Edionwe v. Bailey, 860 F.3d 287,
291 (5th Cir. 2017) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009))
Default Judgment Against Miss/Lou
Rosses' shotgun-style complaint attempts to allege,
against all defendants, claims for (1) breach of fiduciary
duty, (2) breach of contract, (3) breach of the implied
covenant of good faith and fair dealing, (4) fraudulent
misrepresentation, (5) unconscionability, (6) negligent
misrepresentation, (7) violation of federal and state
consumer protection statutes, (8) slander, and (9) violations
of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court addresses each in turn.
Breach of ...