United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
J. Conrad, Jr. United States District Judge
MATTER comes before the Court upon Plaintiff's
Motion for Default Judgment, (Doc. No. 19), and
Plaintiff's Amended Motion for Default Judgment, (Doc.
filed its Complaint on December 7, 2015, (Doc. No. 1), and
Defendant was served in person on February 19, 2016, (Doc.
Nos. 3, 4). Defendant failed to file an Answer; therefore, on
July 13, 2016, the Court directed Plaintiff to file a Motion
for Entry of Default. (Doc. No. 7). Without offering any
explanation as to his dilatory conduct, Defendant filed his
Answer the next day on July 14, 2016. (Doc. No. 8).
Thereafter, in order to comply with the Court's Order,
Plaintiff filed its Motion for Entry of Default on July 27,
2016. (Doc. No. 11). That motion was denied as the Court
granted Defendant latitude and accepted his untimely filed
answer. (Doc. No. 13). Nevertheless, after Defendant
requested, received, and failed to comply with an extension
of time to hold an initial attorneys' conference and file
a certification thereof, (Doc. Nos. 14, 15), Plaintiff again
filed a Motion for Entry of Default and the Clerk entered
default on October 18, 2016, (Doc. Nos. 16, 18). After the
Clerk's entry of default, Plaintiff filed a Motion for
Default Judgment and Amended Motion for Default Judgment.
(Doc. Nos. 19 and 21). Defendant has not responded to either,
nor has he moved to set aside default.
entry of default judgment is governed by Rule 55 of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure which provides in relevant
part that “[w]hen 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.”
the entry of default, the defaulted party is deemed to have
admitted all well-pleaded allegations of fact contained in
the complaint. Ryan v. Homecomings Fin. Network, 253
F.3d 778, 780 (4th Cir. 2001); Weft Inc. v. GC Inv.
Assocs., 630 F.Supp. 1138, 1141 (E.D. N.C. 1986)
(citations omitted); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(b)(6)
(“An allegation - other than one relating to the amount
of damages - is admitted if a responsive pleading is required
and the allegation is not denied.”). Nonetheless, the
defendant is not deemed to have admitted conclusions of law
and the entry of “default is not treated as an absolute
confession by the defendant of his liability and of the
plaintiff s right to recover.” Ryan, 253 F.3d
at 780 (citations omitted); see also E.E.O.C. v. Carter
Behavior Health Servs., Inc., No. 4:09-cv-122-F, 2011 WL
5325485, at *3 (E.D. N.C. Oct. 7, 2011). Rather, in
determining whether to enter judgment on the default, the
court must determine whether the well-pleaded allegations in
the complaint support the relief sought. See Ryan,
253 F.3d at 780 (citing Weft, 630 F.Supp. at 1141);
DIRECTV, Inc. v. Pernites, 200 F. App'x 257, 258
(4th Cir. 2006) (a ““defendant is not held to
admit facts that are not well-pleaded or to admit conclusions
of law”“) (quoting Nishimatsu Constr. Co. v.
Houston Nat'l Bank, 515 F.2d 1200, 1206 (5th Cir.
1975)); Arista Records, LLC v. Gaines, 635 F.Supp.2d
414, 416 (E.D. N.C. 2009); 10A Wright, Miller & Kane,
Federal Practice and Procedure § 2688 (3d ed. Supp.
2010) (“[L]iability is not deemed established simply
because of the default . . . and the court, in its
discretion, may require some proof of the facts that must be
established in order to determine liability.”).
end, the Fourth Circuit has “repeatedly expressed a
strong preference that, as a general matter, defaults be
avoided and that claims and defenses be disposed of on their
merits.” Colleton Preparatory Acad., Inc. v. Hoover
Univ., Inc., 616 F.3d 413, 417 (4th Cir. 2010)
(citations omitted). Nonetheless, default judgment “may
be appropriate when the adversary process has been halted
because of an essentially unresponsive party.” SEC
v. Lawbaugh, 359 F.Supp.2d 418, 421 (D. Md. 2005).
court finds that liability is established, it must then
determine damages. Carter Behavior Health, 2011 WL
5325485, at *4 (citing Ryan, 253 F.3d at 780-81;
Gaines, 635 F.Supp.2d at 416-17). The court must
make an independent determination regarding damages, and
cannot accept as true factual allegations of damages.
Id. (citing Lawbaugh, 359 F.Supp.2d at
422). While the court may conduct an evidentiary hearing to
determine damages, it is not required to do so, but may rely
instead on affidavits or documentary evidence in the record
to determine the appropriate sum. See EEOC v. CDG Mgmt.,
LLC, No. RDB-08-2562, 2010 WL 4904440, at *2 (D. Md.
Nov. 24, 2010) (citations omitted); EEOC v. North Am.
Land Corp., No. 1:08-cv-501, 2010 WL 2723727, at *2
(W.D. N.C. Jul. 8, 2010).
has been almost entirely unresponsive throughout this
litigation, with his only filings being two motions for
extensions and a short Answer to the Complaint wherein he by
and large denied the substantive allegations in the
Complaint. (Doc. Nos. 5, 8, 14). Indeed, the Court has not
heard from Defendant in almost a year and Defendant has not
cooperated with Plaintiff to move the case forward.
See (Doc. No. 16). Defendant has failed to defend
himself in this lawsuit. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 55.
Accordingly, default was appropriately entered, and the Court
will proceed with the Motion for Default Judgment. Plaintiff
alleged that Defendant owes a student-loan debt of $25,
857.17 plus 4.375% interest, totaling $36.097.57 as of
October 8, 2015. (Doc. Nos. 1 at ¶ 5, 9 at ¶ 5).
Despite Defendant's denial of these allegations,
Plaintiff submits a Certificate of Indebtedness and
Defendant's Federal Direct Consolidation Loan Application
and Promissory Note demonstrating the debt Defendant owes.
(Doc. No. 1-1). These well-pleaded allegations in the
Complaint and Plaintiff's Declaration for Entry of
Default and Default Judgment support findings that Defendant
owes a debt to the U.S. government and owes it in the amount
represented in the Complaint. In conjunction with
Defendant's failure to defend himself, default judgment
is warranted as ordered below.
reviewed the claims asserted in the Complaint, (Doc. No. 1),
the Plaintiffs' Motions for Default Judgment, (Doc. Nos.
19, 21), and the associated memoranda, (Doc. Nos. 19-1,
21-1), the Court finds that Plaintiffs' Motion should be,
and hereby is, GRANTED.