United States District Court, D. Arizona
ORDER AND DEFAULT JUDGMENT
G. Campbell United States District Judge.
JoAnne Knapper has filed a motion for default judgment
against Defendant Stellar Recovery, Inc. Doc. 31. For reasons
stated below, default judgment is appropriate.
brought this action pursuant to the Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et
seq. Doc. 1. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant violated the
FDCPA by falsely representing the status of her debt and
using false or misleading representations in its collection
efforts. Id. ¶¶ 42-45. Specifically,
Plaintiff alleges that Defendant misrepresented in a
collection letter that she could not be sued on the debt
because of its age. Id. ¶¶ 34-41.
Plaintiff sought statutory damages and an award of
attorneys' fees and costs. Id. ¶¶ 43,
has ceased operations. On April 4, 2018, a hearing was held
to address the motion to withdraw as attorney filed by
Defendant's counsel. Docs. 24, 29. Based on the
discussion at the hearing, the Court granted the motion to
withdraw and directed Plaintiff to submit a request for
default judgment. Docs. 29, 30. Plaintiff thereafter filed
the present motion seeking default judgment under Rule 55(b)
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Doc. 31.
Court's “decision whether to enter a default
judgment is a discretionary one.” Aldabe v.
Aldabe, 616 F.2d 1089, 1092 (9th Cir. 1980). Although
the Court should consider and weigh relevant factors as part
of the decision-making process, it “is not required to
make detailed findings of fact.” Fair Hous. of
Marin v. Combs, 285 F.3d 899, 906 (9th Cir. 2002).
following factors may be considered in deciding whether
default judgment is appropriate under Rule 55(b): (1) the
possibility of prejudice to the plaintiff, (2) the merits of
the claims, (3) the sufficiency of the complaint, (4) the
amount of money at stake, (5) the possibility of factual
disputes, and (6) the policy favoring decisions on the
merits. See Eitel v. McCool, 782 F.2d 1470, 1471-72
(9th Cir. 1986). In considering the merits and sufficiency of
the complaint, the court accepts as true the complaint's
well-pled factual allegations, but the plaintiff must
establish the damages sought in the complaint. See Geddes
v. United Fin. Grp., 559 F.2d 557, 560 (9th Cir. 1977).
Having reviewed the complaint and default judgment motion,
and based on the discussion held at the April 4 hearing, the
Court finds that the Eitel factors favor default
judgment in the amount of $8, 646.00.
Possible Prejudice to Plaintiff.
first Eitel factor weighs in favor of default
judgment. Defendant has ceased operations, and its
representative, John Schenk, stated at the hearing that he
will not hire new counsel or mount any kind of defense in
this case. Doc. 29. If Plaintiff's motion is not granted,
Plaintiff will be without other recourse for recovery.
See PepsiCo, Inc. v. Cal. Sec. Cans, 238 F.Supp.2d
1172, 1177 (C.D. Cal. 2002).
Merits of the Claims and Sufficiency of the
second and third Eitel factors favor default
judgment where, as in this case, the complaint sufficiently
states a plausible claim for relief under the Rule 8 pleading
standard. See id at 1175; Danning v.
Lavine, 572 F.2d 1386, 1388-89 (9th Cir. 1978). As noted
above, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant violated the FDCPA by
falsely representing the status of her debt and using false
or misleading representations in its collection efforts. Doc.
1 ¶¶ 42-45. This is a viable claim for relief under
the statute, and Plaintiff alleges sufficient facts to show
Defendant's liability for statutory damages. Id.
¶¶ 34-41. The second and third factors favor
Amount of Money at Stake.
the fourth Eitel factor, the Court considers the
amount of money at stake in relation to the seriousness of
the defendant's conduct. Plaintiff seeks only $1, 000 in
statutory damages, and reasonable attorneys' fees and
costs in the amounts of $7, 146 and $500, respectively. Doc.
31 at 2. These amounts are supported by ...