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United States, Rabuka v. Rma Land Construction, Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

September 3, 2014

UNITED STATES FOR THE USE AND BENEFIT OF ABUKAR ABDULLAHI RABUKA d/b/a RABUKA FIRE PROTECTION, et al.
v.
RMA LAND CONSTRUCTION, INC., et al.

CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

DAVID O. CARTER, District Judge.

PROCEEDINGS (IN CHAMBERS): ORDER GRANTING DEFAULT JUDGMENT [22]

Before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion for Default Judgment ("Motion" or "Mot.") (Dkt. 22). After reviewing the Motion, the Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART the Motion.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Facts

Sometime prior to March 2013, Defendant RMA Land Construction ("RMA") contracted with the United States Navy division NAVFAC SOUTHWEST, Coast IPT/Code ROPMA, Naval Station San Diego ("USN") to work on a construction project to renovate several buildings on a naval base in Ventura County, California ("Prime Contract" for the "Project"). Compl. (Dkt. 1) ¶ 12. Previously, on July 11, 2012, RMA had obtained a Miller Act payment bond (the "Bond") from Defendant Edmund Scarborough ("Scarborough") in the amount of $9, 209, 700, as required by the government. "In the Bond, Scarborough agreed to be bound jointly and severally with RMA to make payment to all persons having a direct contractual relationship with RMA or to any subcontractor of RMA who furnished labor, material or both in the prosecution of the work provided for in the Prime Contract in the event that RMA failed to make prompt payment to such persons." Id. ¶ 13.

On or about March 29, 2013, Plaintiffs ("RFP") entered into a written subcontract with RMA to provide fire protection systems and wet pipe fire sprinklers in the Project pursuant to Prime Contract and Project specifications. Id. ¶ 14. Under the Subcontract, RMA was entitled to withhold 10% of the total value of RFP's labor, materials, and services as "retention, " to be paid to RFP when RFP's work under the Subcontract was completed. The Subcontract also contained a provision under which the prevailing party in any dispute would be entitled to attorneys' fees and costs. Id. ¶ 15.

RFP completed its work in full compliance with the Subcontract on or about October 15, 2013. Id. ¶ 17. However, neither RMA nor Scarborough has yet paid RFP $19, 025 due under the Subcontract as retention, despite attempts by RFP to collect payment. Id. ¶¶ 18-19.

B. Procedural History

RFP filed suit against Defendants in this Court on April 3, 2014. Compl. Neither Defendant has appeared in this case. RFP filed the present Motion for Default Judgment on July 22, 2014.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

The decision to grant or deny a motion for default judgment is within the district court's discretion. Eitel v. McCool, 782 F.2d 1470, 1471 (9th Cir. 1986). After the clerk enters a default against the defendant, the factual allegations of the complaint, except those relating to damages, are taken as true, except allegations concerning the amount of damages. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(b)(6); Geddes v. United Fin. Grp., 559 F.2d 557, 560 (9th Cir. 1977). However, "necessary facts not contained in the pleading, and claims which are legally insufficient, are not established by default." Cripps v. Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., 980 F.2d 1261, 1267 (9th Cir. 1992). The district court considers seven factors when deciding whether to grant the motion: "(1) the possibility of prejudice to the plaintiff, (2) the merits of plaintiff's substantive claim, (3) the sufficiency of the complaint, (4) the sum of money at stake in the action, (5) the possibility of a dispute concerning material facts, (6) whether the default was due to excusable neglect, and (7) the strong policy underlying the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure favoring decisions on the merits." Eitel, 782 F.2d at 1471-72.

If a plaintiff seeks money damages, "[t]he plaintiff is required to provide evidence of its damages, and the damages sought must not be different in kind or amount from those set forth in the complaint. Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(c). When proving-up' damages, admissible evidence (including witness testimony) supporting... damage calculations is usually ...


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