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Heliqwest International, Inc. v. Patriot Towers, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Arizona

April 6, 2015

HeliQwest International, Inc., Plaintiff,
v.
Patriot Towers, Inc., Defendant.

ORDER

PAUL G. ROSENBLATT, District Judge.

Pending before the Court is plaintiff HeliQwest International, Inc.'s Application for Entry of Default Judgment (Doc. 15). Having considered the motion in light of the relevant record, the Court finds that the motion should be granted pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2).

Background

The plaintiff commenced this action, which is based on diversity of citizenship jurisdiction, on December 5, 2014; its complaint alleges claims for breach of contract and unjust enrichment. The plaintiff, a Colorado-based helicopter charter company specializing in external load and specialty operations, entered into a Master Services Agreement ("MSA") and a Work Order/Flight Quote agreement ("Work Order") with defendant Patriot Towers, Inc. in April 2013; the defendant is alleged to be an Arizona corporation that specializes in the engineering, installation, testing, integration, and maintenance of various telecommunication networks. The plaintiff alleges that it performed helicopter services for the defendant in connection with the MSA and Work Order and that the defendant paid the plaintiff's invoices without objection through April 14, 2014, but then the defendant stopped making payments leaving a large sum that remains due and owing. The parties' MSA provides that it "shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the laws of the State of Arizona, without regard to the conflict of law principles." MSA ΒΆ 32.01.

The defendant was served with process through the Arizona Corporation Commission on December 19, 2014 (Doc. 8). The plaintiff filed its Application for Entry of Default on March 2, 2015 and served it on the defendant on March 3, 2015 (Doc. 13), and the Clerk of the Court entered default against the defendant on March 3, 2015 (Doc. 14). In its pending Application for Entry of Default Judgment, filed on March 3, 2015, the plaintiff seeks damages of $241, 139.21 and attorneys' fees and costs in the amount of $7, 580.00.

Discussion

A. Whether default judgment should be entered

Although the plaintiff never mentions it, the Court must consider seven factors in determining whether to exercise its discretion to enter default judgment: (1) the possibility of prejudice to the plaintiff; (2) the merits of the plaintiff's substantive claim; (3) the sufficiency of the complaint; (4) the sum of money at stake; (5) the possibility of a dispute concerning material facts; (6) whether the default was due to excusable neglect; and (7) the strong policy underlying the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure favoring decisions on the merits. Eitel v. McCool, 782 F.2d 1470, 1471-72 (9th Cir.1986). In considering the Eitel factors, the Court takes all factual allegations in the complaint as true, except for those relating to damages. See TeleVideo Systems, Inc. v. Heidenthal, 826 F.2d 915, 917 (9th Cir.1987).

The first factor weighs in favor of granting the plaintiff's motion because the plaintiff will be prejudiced if this action is not resolved since it may be left without any other recourse to recover the monies owed it by the defendant.

The second and third factors favor a default judgment because the complaint is both factually and legally sufficient and by defaulting the defendant has admitted the non-damages related allegations in the complaint.

The fourth factor also favors a default judgment because the contract-based damages of $241, 139.21 is a significant sum and the plaintiff has submitted evidence showing that the defendant has not paid that sum after contractually agreeing to do so.

The fifth factor also favors a default judgment because the sufficiency of the complaint and the defendant's default, along with the plaintiff's submission of evidence clearly supporting its allegations, establish that a dispute regarding material facts is not a genuine possibility.

The sixth factor further favors a default judgment because the likelihood of the defendant's default being the result of excusable neglect is not a possibility since the record clearly establishes that the defendant has been aware of this action: the defendant was properly served with the complaint and the default application, and the plaintiff's evidence shows that the plaintiff's counsel communicated several times with the defendant's counsel both before and after the filing of this action in an effort to resolve the matter.

The seventh factor favors default judgment notwithstanding the strong public policy favoring decisions on the merits because the defendant's failure to defend this action renders an ...


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