United States District Court, D. Arizona
Honorable Roslyn O. Silver, Senior United States District
Lisa Hall seeks default judgment against AmeriNational
Community Services, LLC (“AmeriNat”). Hall
requests the default judgment include an award of actual
damages, punitive damages, attorneys' fees, and costs.
Hall also requests the default judgment “order AmeriNat
to correct its reporting” regarding her credit history.
(Doc. 48 at 7). Because the complaint did not include this
latter request, the Court cannot provide such relief in a
default judgment. Therefore, Hall's monetary requests
will be granted but the request for injunctive relief will be
determining whether to enter a default judgment, courts
should evaluate seven factors. Eitel v. McCool, 782
F.2d 1470, 1471-72 (9th Cir. 1986). Here, an analysis of
those factors supports entry of default judgment. In brief,
Hall would suffer prejudice if default judgment is not
entered because she has no other avenue for relief; Hall has
alleged sufficient facts to state a claim for relief against
AmeriNat and, under the applicable statute, is entitled to
the monetary relief she seeks; the sum of money Hall seeks is
relatively modest and is proportional to the harms she
suffered; there are no disputes of fact because AmeriNat has
not appeared; there is no evidence that AmeriNat's
failure to appear was due to excusable neglect; and the
interest in resolving cases on their merits does not outweigh
the other considerations. Therefore, default judgment is
appropriate. The only remaining issue is the exact terms the
default judgment should include.
claim against AmeriNat is brought pursuant to the Fair Credit
Reporting Act (“FCRA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1681
et. seq. In her complaint, Hall alleged
AmeriNat's conduct caused her “embarrassment,
anguish, and emotional and mental pain.” (Doc. 1 at 5).
Based on that, the complaint sought actual damages, statutory
damages, punitive damages, costs and reasonable
attorneys' fees, “pre-judgment and post-judgment
interest, ” and “Declaratory Judgment that
[AmeriNat] violated the FCRA.” (Doc. 1 at 7). The
complaint did not seek any form of injunctive relief.
motion for default judgment is supported by an affidavit
where she explains she was denied a mortgage because of
“derogatory remarks” on her credit report due to
AmeriNat's failure to remedy inaccurate information.
(Doc. 50 at 2). Hall states she “suffered embarrassment
and stress related to the credit denial.” Based on
that, and the fact that AmeriNat willfully failed to correct
the information in her credit file, Hall seeks $5, 000 in
actual damages and $5, 000 in punitive damages. Hall also
seeks $5, 225 in attorneys' fees and legal costs of $40.
These amounts are similar to awards entered in analogous
cases. See, e.g., Kajbos v. Maximum Recover
Sols., Inc., No. CV09-1206-PHX-MHM, 2010 WL 2035788, at
*5 (D. Ariz. May 20, 2010) (default judgment awarding $5, 000
in actual damages and $3, 907 in attorneys' fees for
violation of Fair Debt Collection Practices Act); Perkons
v. Am. Acceptance, LLC, No. CV-10-8021-PCT-PGR, 2010 WL
4922916, at *4 (D. Ariz. Nov. 29, 2010) (default judgment
awarding $5, 000 in actual damages and $7, 388 in
attorneys' fees for violation of Fair Debt Collections
Practices Act). Hall will be awarded the full amount of
monetary damages she seeks.
the monetary damages, Hall's motion for default judgment
requests AmeriNat be ordered “to correct its
reporting” regarding her credit history. (Doc. 48 at
7). Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(c),
“[a] default judgment must not differ in kind from, or
exceed in amount, what is demanded in the pleadings.”
Hall's complaint seeks monetary damages and a declaratory
judgment but it does not seek any form of injunctive relief.
As explained by the Ninth Circuit, “[t]here is a
considerable difference between” an injunction that
“order[s] a [defendant] to conduct his activities in a
certain manner, ” and a declaratory judgment that
“simply pronounc[es] that [the defendant's] conduct
is unlawful and should be corrected.” Olagues v.
Russoniello, 770 F.2d 791, 803 (9th Cir. 1985). See
also Ulstein Mar., Ltd. v. United States, 833 F.2d 1052,
1055 (1st Cir. 1987) (“Injunctions and declaratory
judgments are different remedies. An injunction is a coercive
order by a court directing a party to do or refrain from
doing something, and applies to future actions. A declaratory
judgment states the existing legal rights in a controversy,
but does not, in itself, coerce any party or enjoin any
future action.”). Because the complaint did not seek an
injunction, the default judgment cannot order AmeriNat to
take action.… … … …
IT IS ORDERED the Motion for Default (Doc.
48) is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN
IS FURTHER ORDERED the Clerk of Court shall enter a
judgment against Defendant AmeriNational Community Services,
LLC, in the amount of $15, 265 inclusive of attorneys'
fees and costs. The Clerk of Court shall close this case.
 An award of actual damages is allowed
based on a negligent violation of the FCRA. 15 U.S.C. §
1681o. To receive punitive damages, the violation must have
been willful. 15 U.S.C. § 1681n(a). See also Safeco
Ins. Co. of Am. v. Burr, 551 U.S. 47, 53 (2007). Hall
alleges AmeriNat was informed six times of incorrect
information but took no corrective action. Such repeated
noncompliance with statutory duties establishes AmeriNat
acted willfully. See Id. (punitive damages can be
awarded based on “reckless disregard of statutory
Neither Hall's motion for default judgment proposed nor
her proposed default judgment includes any argument or
proposed language regarding the appropriate form of
declaratory relief. Therefore, ...