United States District Court, E.D. California
KENDALL J. NEWMAN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
pending before the court is plaintiff Scott Johnson's
motion for default judgment against defendant Waterloo
Enterprises, Inc., which is the only named defendant in this
action. (ECF No. 8.) After defendant twice failed to file an
opposition to the motion, the motion was submitted on the
record and written briefing pursuant to Local Rule 230(g).
(ECF No. 10.) For the reasons discussed below,
plaintiff's motion is GRANTED IN PART on the terms
initiated this action on April 4, 2016, alleging violations
of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 12101 et seq. (“ADA”) and
California's Unruh Civil Rights Act, Cal. Civ. Code
§§ 51 et seq. (See generally Complaint,
ECF No. 1 [“Compl.”].) Plaintiff, a level C-5
quadriplegic who cannot walk, has significant manual
dexterity impairments, and uses a wheelchair and a
specially-equipped van, alleged that defendant owns a
business establishment and place of public accommodation
known as Clarion Inn and Suites and the Sutter Street Bar and
Grill, located at 4219 E. Waterloo Road, Stockton,
California. (Compl. ¶¶ 1-13, 18.) According to
plaintiff, he patronized the establishment in March 2014,
April 2014, August 2014, September 2014, and January 2015;
and encountered several specific architectural barriers to
access at the establishment in violation of the ADA and the
ADA Accessibility Guidelines pertaining to disabled parking
spaces, guestrooms, registration counters, and restrooms.
(Id. ¶¶ 19-103, 104-108.) Plaintiff
further alleged that removal of the identified barriers is
readily achievable, because they could be removed without
much difficulty or expense. (Id. ¶ 112.)
Plaintiff's complaint sought injunctive relief; monetary
damages; and attorneys' fees, litigation expenses, and
costs of suit. (Id. at 16.)
defendant was properly served with process, defendant failed
to appear, and the Clerk of Court ultimately entered
defendant's default on February 16, 2017, pursuant to
plaintiff's request. (ECF Nos. 4-6.) The instant motion
for default judgment followed. (ECF No. 8.)
motion for default judgment seeks injunctive relief for
removal of unlawful architectural barriers pursuant to the
ADA; statutory damages pursuant to California's Unruh
Civil Rights Act; and attorneys' fees and costs pursuant
to the ADA and California's Unruh Civil Rights Act.
Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55, default may
be entered against a party against whom a judgment for
affirmative relief is sought who fails to plead or otherwise
defend against the action. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a).
However, “[a] defendant's default does not
automatically entitle the plaintiff to a court-ordered
judgment.” PepsiCo, Inc. v. Cal. Sec. Cans,
238 F.Supp.2d 1172, 1174 (C.D. Cal. 2002) (citing Draper
v. Coombs, 792 F.2d 915, 924-25 (9th Cir. 1986)).
Instead, the decision to grant or deny an application for
default judgment lies within the district court's sound
discretion. Aldabe v. Aldabe, 616 F.2d 1089, 1092
(9th Cir. 1980). In making this determination, the court
considers the following factors:
(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
Eitel v. McCool, 782 F.2d 1470, 1471-72 (9th Cir.
general rule, once default is entered, well-pleaded factual
allegations in the operative complaint are taken as true,
except for those allegations relating to damages.
TeleVideo Sys., Inc. v. Heidenthal, 826 F.2d 915,
917-18 (9th Cir. 1987) (per curiam) (citing Geddes v.
United Fin. Group, 559 F.2d 557, 560 (9th Cir. 1977)
(per curiam)); accord Fair Housing of Marin v.
Combs, 285 F.3d 899, 906 (9th Cir. 2002). In addition,
although well-pleaded allegations in the complaint are
admitted by a defendant's failure to respond,
“necessary facts not contained in the pleadings, 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) (citing Danning v.
Lavine, 572 F.2d 1386, 1388 (9th Cir. 1978)); accord
DIRECTV, Inc. v. Hoa Huynh, 503 F.3d 847, 854 (9th Cir.
2007) (stating that a defendant does not admit facts that are
not well-pled or conclusions of law); Abney v.
Alameida, 334 F.Supp.2d 1221, 1235 (S.D. Cal. 2004)
(“[A] default judgment may not be entered on a legally
insufficient claim”). A party's default does not
establish the amount of damages. Geddes, 559 F.2d at
of the Entry of Default Judgment Under the Eitel Factors
Factor One: Possibility of ...