United States District Court, D. Arizona
ORDER AND DEFAULT JUDGMENT
G. Campbell Senior United States District Judge
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b)(2), Plaintiff Jorge
Valenzuela has filed a renewed motion for default judgment
against Defendant Regency Theater, also known as Golin
Theaters Inc. (hereinafter,
“Regency”). Doc. 34. For the reasons stated below,
default judgment is appropriate and will be entered.
November 21, 2017, Plaintiff suffered physical injuries when
the chair in which he was sitting at a Regency Theater in
Yuma, Arizona, malfunctioned. Plaintiff filed suit against
Regency asserting various negligence claims. Doc. 1-3 at 3-8.
He seeks compensatory damages for past and future medical
care and pain and suffering. Id.
was served with the summons and complaint, but has not
appeared in this action. See Docs. 21, 22, 41-1. The
Clerk entered Regency's default pursuant to Rule 55(a).
Doc. 23. Plaintiff filed a motion for default judgment, which
the Court denied without prejudice because Plaintiff failed
to show that default judgment is appropriate. Docs. 32, 33.
Plaintiff has filed a renewed motion for default judgment and
evidence of his claimed damages. Docs. 34, 39. Regency has
filed no response.
Default Judgment Under Rule 55(b)(2).
the clerk enters default, the district court may enter
default judgment pursuant to Rule 55(b)(2). The 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 it is not
required to make detailed findings of fact in deciding
whether default judgment is appropriate, see Fair Housing
of Marin v. Combs, 285 F.3d 899, 906 (9th Cir. 2002), it
should consider the following factors: (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).
Possible Prejudice to Plaintiff.
first Eitel factor weighs in favor of default
judgment. Despite being served with process, Regency has not
answered or otherwise responded to the complaint. If default
judgment is not entered, Plaintiff “will likely be
without other recourse for recovery.” PepsiCo, Inc.
v. Cal. Sec. Cans, 238 F.Supp.2d 1172, 1177 (C.D. Cal.
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).
Plaintiff alleges that he was a business invitee at the
Regency Theater in Yuma on November 21, 2017, that the
reclining chair he was sitting in suddenly collapsed causing
him personal injuries, and that Regency negligently
maintained the chair and thereby breached the duty of care it
owed to Plaintiff. Doc. 1-3 at 3-8; see Doc. 34-1 at
6-9. These allegations are sufficient to state a plausible
negligence claim under Arizona law. See Quiroz v. ALCOA
Inc., 416 P.3d 824, 827-28 (Ariz. 2018) (“To
establish a defendant's liability for a negligence claim,
a plaintiff must prove: (1) a duty requiring the defendant to
conform to a certain standard of care; (2) breach of that
standard; (3) a causal connection between the breach and the
resulting injury; and (4) actual damages.”) (citing
Gipson v. Kasey, 150 P.3d 228, 230 (Ariz. 2007)).
The second and third factors favor default
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 nearly $250, 000
in alleged damages for past and future medical care and
approximately $500, 000 for pain and suffering. Doc. 34 at 4.
Although the Court will not award all of the damages sought
by Plaintiff, it appears that his injuries are real and
substantial, were caused by Regency's negligent
maintenance of the chair in which it knew guests would be
sitting, and that the requested damages are not unreasonable.
The fourth Eitel factor favors default judgment.
See Mayer v. Redix, No. ED CV 12-515-DMG (E), 2014
WL 4258125, at *7 (C.D. Cal. Aug. 26, 2014) (explaining that
“[d]efault judgment is disfavored where the sum of
money at stake is too large or unreasonable in relation to
Possible Dispute ...