United States District Court, Central District of California
For American General Life Insurance Company, Plaintiff: David T McDowell, Jessica L Wilson, LEAD ATTORNEYS, PRO HAC VICE, Edison McDowell and Hetherington LLP, Houston, TX; Jodi Krystyn Swick, LEAD ATTORNEY, Edison, McDowell and Hetherington, Oakland, CA; Raymond J Tittmann, LEAD ATTORNEY, Edison, McDowell & Hetherington LLP, Oakland, CA; Edward J Valdespino, Edison McDowell and Hetherington LLP, Oakland, CA.
MEMORANDUM & ORDER REGARDING MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT
Gary Allen Feess, United States District Judge.
Plaintiff American General Life Insurance Company (" Plaintiff") seeks entry of default judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b)(2) against Defendant Ervin Duffey (" Defendant") in this declaratory judgment action alleging that Defendant made material misrepresentations, omissions, and/or concealments on his application to obtain a life insurance policy from Plaintiff. (Docket No. 38 [Second Amended Application for Default Judgment (" App.")]; Docket No. 15 [First Amended Complaint (" FAC")].) Plaintiff asserts a single claim under the Federal Declaratory Judgment Statute, seeking a declaration that Defendant's life insurance policy is " null, void, and rescinded ab initio" due to these material misrepresentations, and now seeks entry of judgment against Defendant on this claim. (FAC ¶ 18; App. at 2.)
This is not Plaintiff's first attempt to obtain default judgment. (See Docket No. 26 [Motion for Default Judgement]; Docket No. 28 [Amended Application for Default Judgment].) Plaintiff's last attempt was denied by the Court for failure to properly serve Defendant. (See Docket No. 31 [5/9/14 Order] at 3.) Pursuant to this Court's Order (See Docket No. 33 [6/12/14 Order] at 2) Plaintiff served Defendant by publication " in the Press-Enterprise newspaper in California once a week for four consecutive weeks." (Docket No. 38-1 [Decl. of Edward J. Valdespino (" Vadespino Deck")] ¶ 4].) Although proper service was completed, Defendant failed to file an Answer or any other responsive pleading and Plaintiff proceeded to file a Request for the Court Clerk to Enter Default against Defendant. (Docket No. 34 [Proof of Service of Summons by Publication]; Docket No. 36 [Application for Clerk's Entry of Default].) Default was entered by the Clerk on September 9, 2014. (Docket No. 37 [Clerk's Entry of Default].)
The Court concludes that Plaintiff is entitled to default judgment because it has satisfied all of the relevant procedural requirements, has pleaded sufficient facts in its First Amended Complaint to justify entry of default judgment, seeks a remedy that the Court deems proper, and has shown that it is entitled to relief. Accordingly, Plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment is GRANTED. The Court explains its reasoning in greater detail below.
On or about July 20, 2011, Defendant completed an application for Plaintiff's insurance policies. (FAC ¶ ¶ 9-10.) Defendant responded to a series of questions on the application regarding his health and medical history, including " his history of treatment, consultations and diagnosis of medical illnesses or diseases." (Id. ¶ ¶ 10-11.) The application also included an " affirmation" stating that Defendant had read the statements contained in the application and that any misrepresentation relied on by Plaintiff may be used to void the policy. (Id. ¶ 12.) Based on these representations and " in reliance upon" Defendant's disclosures, Plaintiff issued life insurance Policy Number YMD7166568 (" Policy") to Defendant. (Id. ¶ 13.)
Plaintiff contends that " while evaluating [Defendant]'s application for a second policy, " it was discovered that Defendant had " made misrepresentations of material fact, concealed material facts, and/or otherwise failed to accurately, honestly, and/or truthfully answer and disclose material information . . . regarding his health and medical history." (Id. ¶ 15, see also App. at 1.)
Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant's misrepresentations caused Plaintiff to issue the Policy to him, and that it would not have otherwise issued the Policy or would have issued the Policy under materially different terms had it known these representations were false. (Id. ¶ 15.) Plaintiff now seeks an order from the Court rescinding the Policy and declaring it void ab initio. (Id. at 16.)
A. Procedural Requirements for Entry of Default Judgment
Rule 55(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits a court-ordered default judgment following the entry of default by the Court Clerk under Rule 55(a). Elektra Entm't Grp., Inc. v. Bryant, No. 03-6381, 2004 WL 783123, at *1 (C.D. Cal. Feb. 13, 2004) (citing Kloepping v. Fireman's Fund, No. C 94-2684, 1996 WL 75314, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 13, 1996)). Local Rule 55-1 requires that motions for default judgment set forth the following information: (1) when and against what party default was entered; (2) identification of the pleading to which default was entered; (3) whether the defaulting party is an infant or incompetent person, and if so, whether that person is adequately represented; (4) that the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act,  50 App. U.S.C. § 521, does not apply; and (5) that notice of the motion has been served on the defaulting party, if required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b)(2). C.D. Cal. R. 55-1.
Here, Plaintiff has satisfied all applicable procedural requirements. The Second Application for Entry of Default Judgment clearly sets forth that the Court Clerk entered default against Defendant on September 9, 2014. (App. at 3 (citing Docket No. 37 [Clerk's Entry of Default]; Valdespino Decl. ¶ 7).) The default was entered as to Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint. (Id.) Plaintiff has also established that Defendant is not an infant, an incompetent person, or subject to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. (Id. (citing Valdespino Decl. ¶ 5).) Finally, Plaintiff is not required to serve notice of the instant motion on Defendant because Defendant has not appeared in ...