United States District Court, C.D. California
Present: The Honorable CHRISTINA A. SNYDER
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
(IN CHAMBERS) - PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT
(Dkt. 11, filed September 20, 2016)
INTRODUCTION & BACKGROUND
January 12, 2007, in consideration of a loan from the U.S.
Small Business Administration (“SBA”), defendant
Willie Mitchell executed a Promissory Note in the amount of
$95, 000. Dkt. 1 (“Compl.”) ¶ 2. On or about
September 2009, Mitchell defaulted on the payment of his
obligation on the Note, with $90, 277.44 still owing.
Id. ¶ 4.
15, 2015, the United States brought this action against
Mitchell to recover Mitchell's obligation on the
Promissory Note, along with costs and fees. See id.
October 6, 2015, the government served Mitchell with the
summons and complaint. Dkt. 5.
August 25, 2016, pursuant to the government's request,
the Clerk of Court entered a default against Mitchell. Dkt.
September 20, 2016, the government filed the instant motion
for default judgment. Dkt. 11 (“Motion”). The
government seeks to recover: (a) the unpaid principal, in the
amount of $90, 277.44; (b) the fees charged by Debt
Management Services (“DMS”) of the Bureau of the
Fiscal Service for the Treasury Department in the amount of
$27, 068.23; (c) the fees charged by the Department of
Justice (“DOJ”) in the amount of $3, 627.70; (d)
attorneys' fees in the amount of $5, 209.90; and (e)
costs in the amount of 480.50. Id. at 4-5; dkt.
11-2, Declaration of Regina Crisafulli (“Crisafulli
Decl.”) ¶ 14.
8, 2017, the Court held oral argument. Mitchell did not
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55, when a party against
whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed
to plead or otherwise defend, and the plaintiff does not seek
a sum certain, the plaintiff must apply to the court for a
default judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55.
general rule, cases should be decided on the merits as
opposed to by default, and, therefore, “any doubts as
to the propriety of a default are usually resolved against
the party seeking a default judgment.” Judge William W.
Schwarzer et al., California Practice Guide: Federal Civil
Procedure Before Trial ¶ 6:11 (The Rutter Group 2015)
(citing Pena v. Seguros La Comercial, S.A., 770 F.2d
811, 814 (9th Cir. 1985)). Granting or denying a motion for
default judgment is a matter within the court's
discretion. Elektra Entm't Grp. Inc. v.
Crawford, 226 F.R.D. 388, 392 (C.D. Cal. 2005); see
also Sony Music Entertainment, Inc. v. Elias, 2004 WL
141959, *3 (C.D. Cal. Jan. 20, 2004).
Ninth Circuit has directed that courts consider the following
factors in deciding whether to enter default judgment: (1)
the possibility of prejudice to plaintiff; (2) the merits of
plaintiff's substantive claims; (3) the sufficiency of
the complaint; (4) the sum of money at stake in the action;
(5) the possibility of a dispute concerning the material
facts; (6) whether defendant's default was the product of
excusable neglect; and (7) the strong policy favoring
decisions on the merits. See Eitel, 782 F.2d at
1471-72; see also Elektra, 226 F.R.D. at 392.