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United States v. Mineral Park Materials LLC

United States District Court, D. Arizona

October 26, 2016

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Mineral Park Materials, LLC, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Honorable Stephen M. McNamee Senior United States District Judge.

         Pending before the Court is Plaintiff's Request to Clerk for Entry of Default Judgment. (Doc. 9.) On December 11, 2015, Plaintiff, United States, filed its Complaint in this matter to collect debt owed by Defendant. (Doc. 1.) On February 3, 2016, Defendant sent a Waiver of Service of Summons to Plaintiff. (Doc. 6.) However, Defendant did not file an answer or otherwise respond to Plaintiff's Complaint. See Fed. R. Civ. R. 12(a). The Clerk of Court entered default against Defendant on April 18, 2016. (Doc. 8.) Plaintiff now moves the Court to enter default judgment. (Doc. 9.) For the reasons below, the Court will grant Plaintiff's request for default judgment.[1]

         I. Background

         On December 11, 2015, Plaintiff filed its Complaint in this matter to collect from Defendant monetary assessments and penalties imposed by the United States Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). (Doc. 1 ¶ 5.) The assessments and penalties arise from Defendant's safety violations under the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, 30 U.S.C. § 801, et seq., (the Act) as noted during MSHA inspections of Defendant's sites in Mohave, Arizona. (Id. ¶¶ 9-47.) Plaintiff attached to its Complaint as Exhibits thirteen Certificates of Indebtedness, which contain sworn statements by the U.S. Department of the Treasury Bureau of the Fiscal Service and detail the monetary assessments and penalties issued by MSHA to Defendant as part of MHSA's duty to enforce the Act. (Docs. 1-1 through 1-13.) Each Certificate of Indebtedness was signed under penalty of perjury and sets forth the violation date, the initial amount assessed, the fees and costs assessed, all payments made by Defendant, and the amount still owed. (Id.)

         On January 7, 2016, Plaintiff sent a Notice of Lawsuit and Request for Waiver of Service and Summons to Defendant. (Docs. 4, 6.) On February 3, 2016, Defendant sent the signed Waiver to Plaintiff, acknowledging that Defendant had received the Complaint and that it agreed to waive formal service of the Summons and Complaint. (Doc. 6.) In addition, the Waiver stated that a Judgment could be entered against Defendant if it failed to file an answer or motion within 60 days after the Notice was sent, pursuant to Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Id.) Defendant, however, did not file an answer or otherwise respond to the Complaint.

         On April 15, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Request to Clerk of Court for Entry of Default and Declaration. (Doc. 7.) That same day, Plaintiff sent a copy of the Request to Defendant. (Id.) On April 18, 2016, the Clerk of Court entered Default. (Doc. 8.) Plaintiff subsequently filed a Request for Entry of Default Judgment and Affidavit of Amount Due, and sent a copy to Defendant. (Doc. 9.) On July 7, 2016, the Court ordered Plaintiff to submit supplemental briefing because Plaintiff failed to address the Eitel factors in its Request for Entry of Default Judgment. (Doc. 10.)

         On July 20, 2016, Plaintiff filed its Supplemental Briefing. (Doc. 11.) Plaintiff requests the Court enter judgment in its favor in the total amount of $52, 412.80. This amount includes: (1) $37, 690.06 in principal; (2) $875.60 in accrued interest as of the date of the Complaint; (3) $452.36 in penalties; (4) $13, 304.78 in fees; and (5) $90.00 in costs. Plaintiff further requests additional pre-judgment interest accrued until the date of Judgment, as well as post-judgment interest. (Doc. 9.) Below, the Court addresses Plaintiff's requests.

         II. Discussion

         a. Jurisdiction

         “When entry of judgment is sought against a party who has failed to plead or otherwise defend, a district court has an affirmative duty to look into its jurisdiction over both the subject matter and the parties.” In re Tuli, 172 F.3d 707, 712 (9th Cir. 1999). Here, Plaintiff, the United States, brings this action to recover fines and penalties assessed pursuant to 30 U.S.C. § 801, et seq. Therefore, the Court is satisfied that it has subject matter jurisdiction over this action. See 28 U.S.C. § 1345 (“District courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions, suits or proceedings commenced by the United States, or by an agency or officer thereof expressly authorized to sue by Act of Congress.”); 28 U.S.C. § 1355 (“The district courts shall have original jurisdiction, exclusive of the courts of the States, of any action or proceeding for the recovery or enforcement of any fine, penalty, or forfeiture, pecuniary or otherwise, incurred under any Act of Congress, except matters within the jurisdiction of the Court of International Trade under section 1582 of this title.”).

         With regard to personal jurisdiction, Plaintiff's Complaint alleges that Defendant is a corporation conducting business in Arizona. (Doc. 1 ¶¶ 2-4.) Plaintiff sent copies of the Complaint and Summons to Defendant's address in Kingman, Arizona. (Doc. 4.) In response, Defendant waived service. (Doc. 6.) Therefore, the Court is satisfied that it has personal jurisdiction over Defendant. See Cripps v. Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., 980 F.2d 1261, 1267 (9th Cir. 1992) (“Personal jurisdiction over a defendant may be acquired in one of two ways: by personal service of that defendant or by means of a defendant's ‘minimum contacts' with the jurisdiction.”)

         b. Standard for Entry of Default Judgment

         i. Rule 55 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

         Rule 55(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that “[w]hen a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend . . . the clerk shall enter the party's default.” Once a party's default has been entered, the district court has discretion to grant default judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b)(2); Aldabe v. Aldabe, 616 F.2d 1089, 1092 (9th Cir. 1980) (considering lack of merit in plaintiff's substantive claims, the court did not abuse its discretion in declining to enter a default judgment). ...


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