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California Association of Professional Firefighters v. Jones

July 8, 2009

CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF PROFESSIONAL FIREFIGHTERS, A CALIFORNIA NON-PROFIT MUTUAL BENEFIT ASSOCIATION, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DONALD R. JONES, DEFENDANT.



FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

On May 20, 2009, this court submitted for decision on the papers plaintiff's motion for default judgment, filed April 13, 2009.*fn1 Dckt. Nos. 13, 16. Plaintiff California Association of Professional Firefighters is represented by attorneys Louis A. Gonzalez, Jr., and Darrin M. Menezes, with the law firm of Weintraub, Genshlea, and Chediak. There has been no appearance by defendant Donald R Jones, or on his behalf.

Upon review of the motion and supporting documents, and good cause appearing, the court makes the following findings and recommendations.

BACKGROUND

This action, filed October 28, 2008, arises under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 1001 et seq. The court's jurisdiction is premised on 29 U.S.C. § 1132, and 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

A certificate of service, filed February 24, 2009, demonstrates timely personal service of the summons and complaint upon defendant Donald R. Jones, at his home in Inglewood, California, on February 23, 2009. Dckt. No. 6.

On March 27, 2009, at plaintiff's request, the Clerk of Court entered defendant's default. Dckt. Nos. 10, 9. Plaintiff's request for entry of default was supported by an affidavit prepared by plaintiff's counsel, Mr. Menezes, who stated therein that defendant "has not filed or served a response to the Complaint. Furthermore, Mr. Jones has not contacted me or anyone at this firm." Dckt. No. 9-2, at p. 2. Although not required, see Fed. R. Civ. P. 5(a)(2) ("[n]o service is required on a party who is in default for failing to appear"), plaintiff served defendant by mail, on March 24, 2009, its request for entry of default and supporting affidavit. Dckt. Nos. 9, at p. 2; and No. 9-2, at p. 5.

Plaintiff filed the instant motion for default judgment on April 13, 2009. Dckt. No. 13. Plaintiff served the motion, and supporting documents and declarations, on defendant by mail on the same date. Dckt. Nos. 13, at p. 3; No. 13-2, at p. 3; No. 13-2, at p. 11; No. 13-4, at p. 7.

Defendant has not appeared in this action or otherwise communicated with the court.

DISCUSSION

Process has been served upon defendant, who has not appeared in this action, and personal jurisdiction has been established. See Pacific Atlantic Trading Co. v. M/V Main Express, 758 F.2d 1325, 1331 (9th Cir. 1985) (default judgment void without personal jurisdiction).

Entry of default pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(a) effects defendant's admission of the well-pled factual allegations of the complaint, except those relating to the amount of damages. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(b)(6) ("An allegation--other than one relating to the amount of damages-- is admitted if a responsive pleading is required and the allegation is not denied"); Geddes v. United Financial Group, 559 F.2d 557, 560 (9th Cir. 1977), Anderson v. Air West, 542 F.2d 1090, 1093 (9th Cir. 1976).

The court finds that the complaint states the following claims for which relief can be granted:

1. Plaintiff California Association of Professional Firefighters (hereafter "CAPF") is a California non-profit mutual benefit association established as a voluntary employee beneficiary association. CAPF is the sponsor of a Long-Term Disability Plan (hereafter "Plan"), which is available to members of participating fire departments, including the Los Angeles City Firefighters, UFLAC Local 112. The Plan is administered in the County of Amador, California, which is within this judicial district. See 29 U.S.C. § 1132 (e)(2) (action may be brought in the district where the plan is administered). CAPF is exempt from taxation under Section 501, subdivision (c)(9), of the Internal Revenue Code. Compl., at ¶¶ 2, 4; see generally, Decl. of Jim Floyd, a director of the CAPF Plan Administrator, Dckt. No. 13-4.

2. Defendant Donald R. Jones is an individual and, at all relevant times, was a member of Los Angeles City Firefighters, UFLAC Local 112. Defendant currently resides at 3672 W. Chapman ...


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