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Spence v. United States

November 17, 2010

MICHELE SPENCE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, AND DOES 1 THROUGH 10, INCLUSIVE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary S. Austin United States Magistrate Judge

(Document 11)

ORDER REGARDING PLAINTIFF'S REQUEST FOR ENTRY OF DEFAULT AND DEFAULT JUDGMENT

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On October 23, 2010, Plaintiff Michele Spence filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. (Doc. 1.) On September 1, 2010, Plaintiff was ordered to show cause why the matter should not be transferred to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California. (Doc. 4.) Thereafter, on September 22, 2010, the district court in Washington, D.C., transferred the matter to this Court. (See Docs. 7-8.)

On October 1, 2010, Plaintiff filed a number of documents relating to the service of process of Defendant United States of America. (Doc. 10.) On November 9, 2010, Plaintiff filed a "Praecipe to the Clerk" and "Affidavit in Support of Preacipe [sic] to the Clerk," as well as a proposed order. (Docs. 11-13.) As of this date, no appearance in this action has been made on behalf of any defendant.

Plaintiff requests that the Clerk of the Court enter default and default judgment pursuant to Rule 55 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff notes that she does not seek monetary damages. Rather, Plaintiff seeks to quiet title to property located at 45865 Strawberry Road in Coarsegold, California, "by way of declaratory relief, that the Defendants do not have any right, title, or interest in the subject property . . .." (Doc. 12 at 2-3; see also Doc. 1 at 4.)

For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's requests that the Clerk of the Court enter default and default judgment against Defendant United States of America are DENIED.

DISCUSSION

Plaintiff seeks to have the Clerk of this Court enter default and default judgment against Defendant United States of America pursuant to Rules 55(a) and 55(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Those provisions provide as follows:

(a) Entering a Default. When a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend, and that failure is shown by affidavit or otherwise, the clerk must enter the party's default.

(b) Entering a Default Judgment.

(1) By the Clerk. If the plaintiff's claim is for a sum certain or a sum that can be made certain by computation, the clerk - on the amount due - must enter judgment for that amount and costs against a defendant who has been defaulted for not appearing and who is neither a minor nor an incompetent person.

Plaintiff overlooks subdivision (d) of that rule however. That section works to preclude her request herein:

(d) Judgment Against the United States. A default judgment may be entered against the United States, its officers, or its agencies only if the claimant establishes a claim or right to relief by evidence that satisfies the court. (Emphasis added.) As explained below, Plaintiff has failed to establish a claim or right to relief against the United States. See Borzeka v. Heckler, ...


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