United States District Court, D. Arizona
Honorable Diane J. Humetewa United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on Petitioner's Motion for
Default Judgment. (Doc. 15). This is a statutory proceeding
brought in admiralty concerning a fire on a ship. The Motion
is made on the basis of Fed.R.Civ.P. 55 and Rules F(4) and
F(5) of the Supplemental Rules of Civil Procedure for
Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture Actions
(“Supplemental Rules”). Petitioner moves for
Judgment in its favor against all non-appearing claimants, as
no individuals filed claims in this matter within the time
period prescribed by the Supplemental Rules.
12, 2018, the M/V Powell N Around (“Vessel”) was
conducting refueling operations at Lake Powell, near Page,
Arizona, at a fuel dock operated by Antelope Point Marina.
(Doc. 1). During the refueling operation, the Vessel caught
fire. Petitioner alleges that the fire may have given rise to
claims by a service attendant, Preston Parson, who was
present during the fire. (Id.) On August 29, 2018,
Petitioner filed its Complaint for Exoneration From or
Limitation of Liability pursuant to 46 U.S.C. § 30501,
et seq., and Rule F of the Supplemental Rules. (Doc.
1). Federal District Courts have exclusive jurisdiction over
cases arising under Supplemental Rule F. Newton v.
Shipman, 718 F.2d 959, 962 (9th Cir. 1983).
November 19, 2018, pursuant to the procedures mandated in the
Supplemental Rules, the Court issued an Order directing the
Clerk of Court to issue a “Monition: Notice to
Claimants, ” which directed that “[a]ll Claimants
shall file their respective claims with the Clerk of this
Court at the United States Courthouse, Phoenix, Arizona, in
writing and under oath, and serve a copy thereof on the
attorneys for Plaintiffs, on or before February 20, 2019, or
be defaulted.” (Doc. 9). That Order also required
Petitioner to publish the Monition in the Lake Powell
Chronicle, a newspaper of general circulation, in accordance
with Supplemental Admiralty Rule F(4). The Court also ordered
that “Petitioner shall mail a copy of this Order to
every person and entity known to have asserted any claim
against Petitioner or the Vessel, arising out of, resulting
from, or in any manner connected with, that which the
Complaint in this action seeks exoneration from, or
limitation of, liability, to their last known address along
with a copy to their employer at the marina where the
incident occurred.” (Id.) No. claims were
received by the Court. On March 25, 2019, the Clerk of Court
entered default against all non-appearing claimants. (Doc.
14). Petitioner now seeks an entry of Default Judgment.
of default judgment is within the court's discretion.
Aldabe v. Aldabe, 616 F.2d 1089, 1092 (9th Cir.
1980). Upon entry of default, the factual allegations in the
plaintiff's complaint, except those relating to damages,
are deemed admitted. TeleVideo Sys., Inc. v.
Heidenthal, 826 F.2d 915, 917 (9th Cir. 1987). For cases
brought pursuant to the Supplemental Rules of Civil
Procedure, default judgment will be entered against all
non-appearing claimants, so long as the petitioners have
fulfilled “[their] obligation to publish notice of the
limitation proceeding . . . the Notice expressly and clearly
states the deadlines for filing a claim and/or answer . . .
and [the notice stated] that a consequence of failing to file
a timely claim and/or answer was default and being forever
barred from filing a claim and/or answer.” In the
Matter of X-treme Parasail, Inc., 2011 WL 4572448, at *1
(D. Haw. Sept. 12, 2011); See also Supplemental Rule
F. In limitation of liability matters, “courts
regularly grant a default judgment against claimants who do
not answer.” Matter of Duley, 2017 WL 8180609,
at *2 (C.D. Cal. July 11, 2017).
has established that the Monition was published in the Lake
Powell Chronicle, a newspaper of general circulation, for
four consecutive issues beginning on January 9, 2019. (Doc.
11). Moreover, the Monition and Court Order were mailed to
all potential claimants, including Mr. Parson and his
employer. (Doc. 10). The Monition clearly stated that
potential claimants had the obligation to file claims by
February 20, 2019, or be defaulted. (Doc. 11) No. potential
claimant, individual or entity, filed an Answer or claim in
this action by February 20, 2019, nor has any claimant
appeared in this action in the nine months since the deadline
passed. The Court finds that Petitioner fulfilled its
obligations under the Supplemental Rules. Moreover,
Petitioner will be prejudiced if this case remains
unresolved. As referenced above, no claimants have responded
to the Monition or the Application for Default or Motion for
Default Judgment. Petitioner has no alternative means by
which to resolve this matter and would indefinitely suffer
prejudice without the availability of default judgment.
See Pepsico, Inc. v. Cal. Sec. Cans, 238 F.Supp.2d
1172, 1177 (C.D. Cal. 2002). Therefore, Plaintiff's
Motion will be granted and this matter will be closed.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Petitioner's
Motion for Default Judgment (Doc. 15) is
granted. Pursuant to Supplemental Rule F,
Petitioner is exonerated from liability on all claims arising
out of the incident involving the Vessel described herein.
IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of Court shall
enter judgment ...