United States District Court, C.D. California
ORDER RE: PLAINTIFF'S MOTIONS FOR ENTRY OF DEFAULT JUDGMENT AGAINST
DEFENDANT ALFRED ORTIZ , JESSE BASQUEZ , EDWARD ORTIZ , ANTHONY
ORTIZ , AND MICHAEL GARZA .
RONALD S.W. LEW, Senior District Judge.
The Court, having reviewed all papers submitted pertaining to this Application, NOW FINDS AND RULES AS FOLLOWS: The Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motions for Default Judgment [38, 39, 40, 41, 42].
In this Action, Plaintiff UNUM Life Insurance Company of America ("UNUM") seeks to interplead Defendants Ramona Marie De Santiago ("Santiago"), minor ("KMDS"), minor ("KJDS"), Sarai Noemi Hernandez ("Hernandez"), Alfred Ortiz ("Ortiz"), Jesse Basquez ("Basquez"), Edward Ortiz ("E. Ortiz"), Anthony Ortiz ("A. Ortiz"), and Michael Garza ("Garza") regarding UNUM Group Life Insurance Policy NO. 951071 ("Policy") for $400, 000.00 in basic life benefits issued to Barbara Basquez ("Decedent") by her employer, Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians ("Employer"). Compl. ¶¶ 3, 4, 8, ECF No. 1. While the four Defendants who are the named beneficiaries on the Policy (Santiago, KMDS, KJDS, and Hernandez) have filed Answers [11-14], the other five Defendants (Ortiz, Basquez, E. Ortiz, A. Ortiz and Garza) have not filed a responsive pleading. Mots. for Default Judgment 1:24-28; 2:1-3, ECF No. 38-42. Presently before the Court are Plaintiff's five separate Motions for Default Judgment [38-42] against only the five Defendants (Ortiz, Basquez, E. Ortiz, A. Ortiz, and Garza) who have not filed a responsive pleading.
UNUM is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of the State of Maine, with its principal place of business in Portland, Maine. Compl. ¶ 2. Defendants, Santiago, KMDS, KJDS, and Hernandez are citizens and residents of Los Angeles County, State of California. Id. at ¶ 3. Defendants Ortiz, Basquez, E. Ortiz, A. Ortiz, and Garza are citizens and residents of Riverside County, State of California. Id. at ¶ 4.
Decedent was insured under the Policy issued by Employer for $400, 000.00 in basic life benefits. Imber Decl. ¶ 2 & Ex. 1, ECF No. 43. Decedent designated Defendants Santiago, KMDS, KJDS, and Hernandez as primary beneficiaries of the Policy through Employer's plan administrator. Compl. ¶ 9; Imber Decl., Ex. 2. Each of the four named beneficiaries were assigned 25% of the benefits. Compl. ¶ 9; Imber Decl., Ex. 2 at 10.
Decedent died on May 18, 2013 in Riverside County, California. Compl. ¶ 10. On July 16, 2013, UNUM paid the Policy benefits into retained asset accounts for Santiago, KMDS, KJDS, and Hernandez pursuant to the Notice of Claim and the Beneficiary Designation provided by Employer. Id. ¶ 11. On July 22, 2013, UNUM was contacted by telephone by counsel for Alfred Ortiz and was informed that Defendant Ortiz was asserting a competing claim to the Policy benefits. Id. ¶ 12. UNUM soon thereafter received a letter from Defendant Ortiz's counsel, stating that it was "the position of at least two of [Decedent's] children, Jesse J. Basquez and Alfred Ortiz, that [Decedent] lacked capacity at the time of the designation of beneficiaries on this policy" and requesting that UNUM not distribute the benefit monies, but hold the monies "in an account until this dispute is investigated." Imber Decl., Ex. 3; see Compl. ¶ 12. When UNUM learned of the competing claims, a hold was placed on the retained asset accounts. Compl. ¶ 12.
On August 12, 2013, UNUM sent letters to Defendants Santiago, KMDS, KJDS, Hernandez, and Ortiz, directly or through their representatives, confirming the continuing competing claims and stating that, since UNUM was unable to identify the rightful beneficiary, UNUM would proceed with filing an interpleader complaint if the parties could not reach an agreement. Compl. ¶ 14. Believing that Defendants have not and will not come to an agreement as to their competing claims to the Policy proceeds, UNUM filed its Complaint In Interpleader on November 19, 2013 . See Compl. ¶ 15. On November 18, 2013, Plaintiff deposited with the Court $402, 093.15, "the total amount due and [owing] under the Policy" including accrued interest. Notice of Deposit of Interpleader Funds with Court, ECF No. 5. Plaintiff named Basquez, E. Ortiz, A. Ortiz, and Garza as Defendants in this matter because Plaintiff believes that Defendants Basquez, E. Ortiz, A. Ortiz, and Garza "may stand in the same position as competing claimant" Ortiz because Defendants Basquez, E. Ortiz, A. Ortiz, and Garza are Defendant Ortiz's siblings. Compl. ¶ 15. Plaintiff filed Proofs of Service for Defendants Ortiz , Basquez , E. Ortiz , and A. Ortiz , and filed Defendant Garza's Waiver of Service .
On February 24, 2014, Defendants Santiago, Hernandez, KJDS, and KMDS ("Non-defaulting Defendants")-the named beneficiaries on the Policy- filed Answers to the Complaint. Dckt. ## 11-14. On February 26, 2014, Non-defaulting Defendants filed a Cross-Complaint  against only Defendant Ortiz. Defendants Ortiz, Basquez, E. Ortiz, A. Ortiz, and Garza have not filed a responsive pleading to date. Id. ¶ 12. On May 28, 2014, Plaintiff requested  the Clerk to enter default against Defendants Basquez, Garza, Ortiz, A. Ortiz, and E. Ortiz. On July 24, 2014, the Clerk entered Default  against Defendants Ortiz, Basquez, E. Ortiz, A. Ortiz, and Garza.
Plaintiff filed the present Motions for Default Judgment against Defendants Ortiz , Basquez , E. Ortiz , A. Ortiz , and Garza  on September 20, 2014. The motions were set for hearing on October 29, 2014, and were taken under submission on October 22, 2014 .
II. LEGAL STANDARD
Default judgment is within the discretion of the district court. Aldabe v. Aldabe, 616 F.2d 1089, 1092 (9th Cir. 1980); see Fed.R.Civ.P. 55. A party applying to the Court for default judgment must satisfy both procedural and substantive requirements. See Vogel v. Rite Aid Corp., 992 F.Supp.2d 998, 1005-06 (C.D. Cal. 2014). Procedurally, the requirements set forth in Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 55 and 56 and in Local Rule 55-1 must be met. Id. at 1006. Substantively, the Ninth Circuit has provided factors for a district court to consider when determining whether default judgment is proper, including whether the plaintiff has sufficiently alleged a meritorious claim. Id. at 1005-07.
Additionally, "a district court has an affirmative duty to look into its jurisdiction over both the subject matter and the parties" prior to granting default judgment against a party who has failed to appear in ...