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Deal v. Trinity Hope Associates, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Statesville Division

July 17, 2017

MARILYN DEAL, Plaintiff,
v.
TRINITY HOPE ASSOCIATES, LLC; and TABATHA MULLIS, Defendants.

          ORDER OF DEFAULT JUDGMENT

          RICHARD L. VOORHEES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         THIS MATTER IS BEFORE THE COURT on Plaintiff Marilyn Deal's Motion and Memorandum in Support of Default Judgment and Attorneys' Fees (“Motion for Default Judgment”) against Defendants Trinity Hope Associates, LLC and Tabatha Mullis. (Doc. 15). Plaintiff asserts causes of action under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq.). (Doc. 1 at 1 (Compl. ¶¶ 1, 2)).

         Default has been entered against both Defendants. Neither Defendant responded to the Complaint or otherwise appeared in this action. (See Docs. 11, 12). Plaintiff represents that Defendants are neither minors nor incompetent persons and that the Service Members Civil Relief Act does not apply. (Doc. 15 at 2). Plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment is ripe for determination.

         For the reasons stated below, the Court will GRANT the Motion for Default Judgment (Doc. 15).

         I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed this action on July 15, 2016, seeking damages for Defendants' alleged violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). (Doc. 1 at 4 (Compl. ¶¶ 11, 12)). Plaintiff also named DOE 1-5 in her Complaint but voluntarily dismissed the action as to DOE 1-5 pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(a). (Doc. 14).

         Defendant Trinity Hope Associates, LLC (“Trinity Hope”) was served with the Complaint on July 26, 2016, but did not file an Answer or otherwise respond. (See Doc. 6). Defendant Tabatha Mullis (“Mullis”) was served with the Complaint the same day but did not file an Answer or otherwise respond. (See Doc. 7). On September 19, 2016, Plaintiff filed Motions for Entry of Default against Trinity Hope (Doc. 9) and Mullis (Doc. 10). Plaintiff's counsel certified that both Defendants were served with the respective Motions for Entry of Default. (Doc. 9 at 2; Doc 10 at 2). Neither Defendant responded. The Clerk filed an Entry of Default against Defendant Trinity Hope and against Defendant Mullis on September 22, 2016. (Docs. 11, 12).

         On January 24, 2017, Plaintiff filed her Motion for Default Judgment. (Doc. 15). Plaintiff seeks relief in the form of an award of damages in the amount of $4, 787.50, consisting of $1, 000.00 in statutory damages and $3, 787.50 in attorneys' fees. (Doc. 15 at 11).

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Plaintiff's motion for default judgment is governed by Rule 55 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Upon a showing that a party against whom judgment is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend, the clerk must enter the party's default. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). After the clerk has entered a default, the plaintiff may seek a default judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b). Defendants have not moved to set aside either Entry of Default.

         Before a court can enter default judgment, the plaintiff must satisfy the requirements of Rule 54(c) and Rule 55 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. 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). The entry of a default judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2) is left to the sound discretion of the court. See U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Comm'n v. PMC Strategy, LLC, 903 F.Supp.2d 368, 375 (W.D. N.C. 2012).

         III. MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT

         A consequence of the clerk's entry of a default is that “the factual allegations of the complaint, except those relating to the amount of damages, will be taken as true.” S.E.C. v. Marker, 427 F.Supp.2d 583, 586 (M.D. N.C. 2006). Accordingly, because Defendants have failed to respond or otherwise defend against Plaintiff Deal's claims, the following facts are established:

• Plaintiff Deal is a “natural person” residing within the Western District of North ...

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