United States District Court, D. Arizona
ORDER AND DECLARATORY JUDGMENT
G. Campbell United States District Judge
Stillwater Insurance Company has filed a motion for default
judgment against Defendant Sean Fricker. Doc. 20. No.
response has been filed. For reasons stated below, default
judgment is appropriate.
seeks a declaratory judgment that a homeowner's insurance
policy it issued to Fricker provides no coverage for claims
and damages sought in an action currently pending in state
court, B.B. v. Fricker, No. CV-2017-050691 (Maricopa
Cty. Super. Ct Jan. 6, 2017). Doc. 1. The state court action
asserts claims for negligence and punitive damages based on
allegations that B.B. suffered injuries after Fricker gave
him LSD to ingest. Doc. 1-1 at 3-4. Stillwater contends that
the policy's intentional act and controlled substances
exclusions bar coverage. Doc. 1 at 5-6.
complaint was served on Fricker in April 2017. Doc. 6.
Fricker has failed to answer or otherwise respond to the
complaint. The Clerk entered Fricker's default more than
eight months ago. Doc. 16. On April 19, 2018, Stillwater
filed the present motion for default judgment pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b). Doc. 20.
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, (6) whether default is due to excusable neglect,
and (7) 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. See Geddes v. United Fin. Grp.,
559 F.2d 557, 560 (9th Cir. 1977). Having reviewed the
complaint and default judgment motion, the Court finds that
the Eitel factors favor default
Possible Prejudice to Stillwater.
first Eitel factor weighs in favor of default
judgment. Fricker failed to respond to the complaint or
otherwise appear in this action despite being served with the
complaint, the application for default, and the motion for
default judgment. If default judgment is not granted,
Stillwater “will likely be without other recourse for
recovery.” PepsiCo, Inc. v. Cal. Sec. Cans,
238 F.Supp.2d 1172, 1177 (C.D. Cal. 2002). The prejudice to
Stillwater in this regard supports the entry of default
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
standards. See Id. at 1175; Danning v.
Lavine, 572 F.2d 1386, 1388-89 (9th Cir. 1978).
Stillwater seeks relief under the Declaratory Judgment Act,
28 U.S.C. § 2201. Doc. 1 at 1. The Act provides that in
a case of actual controversy within its jurisdiction, a
federal court “may declare the rights and other legal
relations of any interested party seeking such declaration,
whether or not further relief is or could be sought.”
merits of Stillwater's request for a declaratory judgment
are clear and not reasonably subject to dispute. The
underlying state court action alleges that Fricker
intentionally provided illicit drugs (LSD) to a minor thereby
causing that minor to be injured. Doc. 1-1 at 3-4.
Stillwater's insurance policy issued to Fricker expressly
excludes coverage for bodily ...