United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
J. CONRAD, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER comes before the Court on Plaintiff’s
Motion for Default Judgment. (Doc. No. 74.)
November 14, 2017, Plaintiff Movement Mortgage, LLC
(“Plaintiff”) filed a Complaint and Motion for
Temporary Restraining Order against Defendants Mark McDonald
(“McDonald”) and Franklin First Financial, Ltd.
(“Franklin”) in the Superior Court of Mecklenburg
County, North Carolina. (Doc. No. 1-1.) On December 5, 2017,
a TRO was entered against McDonald. (Doc. No. 1-1.) On
December 12, 2017, Franklin removed the action to the United
States District Court for the Western District of North
Carolina on the basis of diversity jurisdiction under 28
U.S.C. § 1332(a)(2). (Doc. No. 1.)
leave of Court and Defendants’ consent, Plaintiff filed
its Second Amended Complaint on July 6, 2018. (Doc. No. 38.)
Defendants filed their Answer to the Second Amended Complaint
on August 15, 2018. (Doc. No. 45.) On August 29, 2018,
Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s Second
Amended Complaint, which was denied on February 5, 2019.
(Doc. No. 67.)
November 13, 2018, the Court granted Defendants’
counsel’s Motion to Withdraw. (Doc. No. 65.) The Court
ordered Franklin to secure replacement counsel within thirty
days, expressly noting that a corporation may appear in
federal court only through licensed counsel. (Doc. No. 65.)
March 29, 2019, the Court Granted Plaintiff and
McDonald’s joint motion for dismissal with prejudice of
Plaintiff’s claims against McDonald. (Doc. No. 72.)
That same day, the Court entered default against Franklin
based on its failure to secure counsel in direct
contravention of the Court’s order. (Doc. No. 73.)
April 29, 2019, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion for
Default Judgment. (Doc. No. 74.) The motion is ripe for
STANDARD OF REVIEW
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs
Plaintiff’s Motion for Default Judgment. “Rule 55
sets forth a two-step process for obtaining a default
judgment.” Brown v. Prime Star Grp., Inc., No.
3:12-cv-165, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 141495, at *5 (W.D. N.C.
Sept. 30, 2012). A plaintiff must first seek an entry of
default under Rule 55(a). L & M Cos. v. Biggers III
Produce, Inc., No. 3:08-cv-309, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
46907, at *14 (W.D. N.C. Apr. 9, 2010). Rule 55(a) states
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.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). “Upon the entry of default, the
defaulted party is deemed to have admitted all well-pleaded
allegations of fact contained in the complaint.”
Brown, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 141495, at *4.
the clerk has entered a default, the plaintiff may seek a
default judgment.” Silvers v. Iredell Cty.
Dep’t of Soc. Servs., No. 5:15-cv-00083, 2016 U.S.
Dist. LEXIS 13865, at *9 (W.D. N.C. Feb. 3, 2016). Default
judgment is proper “only if the well-pleaded factual
allegations in a complaint both establish a valid cause of
action and entitle the plaintiff to an award of damages or
other relief.” i play. Inc. v. D. Catton Enter.,
LLC, No. 1:12-cv-22, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29870, at *6
(W.D. N.C. Mar. 10, 2015). In so deciding, courts in this
district apply the standard used to evaluate a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion to dismiss. Silvers, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
13865, at *18–19. “If the Court determines that
liability is established, it must then determine the
appropriate amount of damages.” Bogopa Serv. Corp.
v. Shulga, No. 3:08-cv-365, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17408,
at *4 (W.D. N.C. Feb. 8, 2011). “The court must make an
independent determination regarding damages, and cannot
accept as true factual allegations of damages.”
EEOC v. Carter Behavior Health Servs., No.
4:09-cv-122, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129493, at *9–10
(E.D. N.C. Oct. 7, 2011). “[A] court may enter a
default judgment as to damages with or without a hearing. As
long as there is an adequate evidentiary basis in the record
for an award of damages, the Court may make such a
determination without a hearing.” Bogopa Serv.
Corp., 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17408, at *5 (citation
Court has entered default against Franklin. (Doc. No. 73.)
The Court thus proceeds to analyzing the propriety of default
The well-pleaded allegations of the Second Amended Complaint