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Grand Biscayne 670 LLC v. 14510 Lemoyne Boulevard, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division

April 17, 2019

GRAND BISCAYNE 670, LLC PLAINTIFF
v.
14510 LEMOYNE BOULEVARD, LLC DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING WITHOUT PREJUDICE IN PART PLAINTIFF GRAND BISCAYNE 670, LLC'S MOTION [10] FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT

          HALIL SULEYMAN OZERDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         BEFORE THE COURT is Plaintiff Grand Biscayne 670, LLC's Motion [10] for Default Judgment against Defendant 14510 Lemoyne Boulevard, LLC. Plaintiff requests compensatory and punitive damages as well as attorneys' fees on its claims for breach of contract, tortious breach of contract, and conversion.

         After due consideration of Plaintiff's Motion [10], the record, and relevant legal authority, the Court is of the opinion that the Motion [10] should be granted in part and denied without prejudice in part. Plaintiff Grand Biscayne 670 LLC is entitled to a default judgment against Defendant 14510 Lemoyne Boulevard, LLC, in the amount of $76, 500.00, representing compensatory and punitive damages. Although Plaintiff has not provided credible evidence to support its request for attorneys' fees, the Court will allow Plaintiff thirty (30) days from the date of entry of this Order to submit such evidence for the Court's consideration. If Plaintiff elects not to submit any further evidence by this deadline, the Court will enter a Default Judgment for the amount of compensatory and punitive damages only.

         I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Grand Biscayne 670, LLC (“Plaintiff” or “Grand Biscayne”), filed suit in this Court against Defendant 14510 Lemoyne Boulevard, LLC (“Defendant” or “Lemoyne”), on November 8, 2018, advancing claims for breach of contract, tortious breach of contract, and conversion. Compl. [1]. The Complaint alleges that Plaintiff's assignor had previously entered into a Contract with Lemoyne for the purchase of real property in which the parties agreed that Lemoyne would pay the title insurance premiums associated with the purchase. Id. at 2; Ex. “A” [1-1]. The Contract was later assigned to Grand Biscayne, which now asserts that Lemoyne failed to pay these premiums in the amount of $51, 500.00 when they were mistakenly charged to Plaintiff at the closing of the purchase on February 15, 2018. Id. at 3; Ex. “C” [1-3] at 1. Plaintiff made demand upon Lemoyne to reimburse it the $51, 500.00 premium, but Lemoyne failed to pay or respond to Plaintiff's demands. Id. at 3; Ex. “C” [1-3] at 1.

         Lemoyne was served with process but has never made an appearance in the case, nor has Lemoyne ever made any attempt to respond to the lawsuit. Executed Summons [5]. Accordingly, Plaintiff filed a Motion [8] for Entry of Default. The Clerk of Court entered an Entry of Default [9] on December 7, 2018, and Grand Biscayne subsequently moved for a default judgment. Mot. [10] for Default J.

         Plaintiff seeks an award of $51, 500.00 in compensatory damages, $25, 000.00 in punitive damages, and $17, 166.00 in attorneys' fees. Id. 7-8.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Default judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55 provides that, after the clerk has entered a default against a defendant for failure to plead or otherwise respond to a complaint, a plaintiff may apply for a default judgment. N.Y. Life Ins. Co. v. Brown, 84 F.3d 137, 141 (5th Cir. 1996). A party is not entitled to a default judgment as a matter of right, even where the defendant is technically in default. Ganther v. Ingle, 75 F.3d 207, 212 (5th Cir. 1996). “There must be a sufficient basis in the pleadings for the judgment entered.” Nishimatsu Const. Co., Ltd. v. Hous. Nat'l Bank, 515 F.2d 1200, 1206 (5th Cir. 1975); see Wooten v. McDonald Transit Assoc., Inc., 788 F.3d 490, 497-98 (5th Cir. 2015) (applying Nishimatsu). To determine the sufficiency of the pleadings for entry of a default judgment, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit looks to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8. Wooten, 788 F.3d at 497-98.

         Rule 8(a)(2) requires a pleading to contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The plaintiff must provide the defendant fair notice of his claim and the “grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). The factual allegations in the complaint need only “be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Id. (citations omitted). While “detailed factual allegations” are not required, pleadings that “are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to [an] assumption of truth.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).

         B. Sufficiency of the pleadings

         Given Lemoyne's complete failure to answer the Complaint in a timely manner or at any time since the Court's entry of default, a default judgment is procedurally warranted. Lindsey v. Prive Corp., 161 F.3d 886, 893 (5th Cir. 1998); see Capital One Auto Fin. v. Nabors, Inc., 4:16-cv-244, 2019 WL 1320429, at *2 (N.D. Miss. Mar. 22, 2019) (weighing relevant Lindsey factors for default where party fails to respond and finding default procedurally warranted); Fagan v. Lawrence Nathan Assocs., Inc., 957 F.Supp.2d 784, 803 (E.D. La. 2013) (weighing and finding same). As such, to determine the sufficiency of Grand Biscayne's pleadings, the Court accepts all well-pled factual allegations in the Complaint as true. U.S. of Am. for Use of M-Co Const., Inc. v. Shipco General, Inc., 814 F.2d 1011, 1014 (5th Cir. 1987) (“[T]he plaintiff's well-[pled] factual allegations are taken as true, except regarding damages.”).

         1. Plaintiffs' breach of contract and tortious ...


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