United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division
ORDER DENYING WITHOUT PREJUDICE MOTION FOR DEFAULT
JUDGMENT [RE: ECF 74]
LABSON FREEMAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Defendants Be Thi Nguyen, H.P., and J.P.'s
Motion for Default Judgment (“Motion”). Motion,
ECF 74. The Court heard oral argument on the Motion on June
20, 2019. For the reasons below and as stated on the record
at the Hearing, the Motion is DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
Accordia Life and Annuity Company (“Accordia”)
filed this interpleader action to resolve potential competing
claims between Defendants Be Thi Nguyen, H.P., J.P., and Vo
Thi Be Nam regarding proceeds from decedent Thanh Van
Pham's (“Pham”) life insurance policy. Compl.
¶¶ 1-6, ECF 1. Defendant Nguyen was Pham's
domestic partner, and Defendants J.P. and H.P. are their
minor children, born in 2010 and 2012, respectively. See
Id. ¶¶ 11-12. Nguyen, J.P., and H.P. reside in
California. Id. ¶¶ 3-5.
investigation uncovered that Pham had a wife, Defendant Vo
Thi Be Nam, in Vietnam. Compl. ¶¶ 14, 16. Pham
married Defendant Nam on December 21, 2008, in Vietnam.
Id. ¶ 14. Pham and Nam have two minor children:
V.M.T. born in 2009 and V.T.A.T. born in 2016. Id.
Nam is a citizen of Vietnam. Id. ¶ 6.
November 13, 2010, Aviva Financial Life and Annity Company
(“Aviva”) issued a life insurance policy
(“the Policy”) with a face value of $200, 000 to
Pham. Compl. ¶ 9. Accordia is the successor in interest
to Aviva with respect to the Policy. Id. ¶ 10.
At the time Pham applied for the Policy, Pham designated his
domestic partner Nguyen as the beneficiary of the Policy.
Id. ¶ 11. On November 17, 2015, Pham executed a
change of beneficiary form dividing the policy between Nguyen
and their two children. Id. ¶ 13. The adjusted
beneficiaries were Nguyen for 60% of the policy benefit, J.P.
for 20% of the policy benefit, and H.P. for 20% of the policy
trip to Vietnam to visit Nam, Pham fell ill, and died on
February 27, 2017. Compl. ¶ 15. Less Pham's
outstanding loan balance under the Policy of $1, 416.28, the
proceeds due to proper beneficiaries in this matter are $198,
583.72. See Id. ¶ 22. On November 28, 2018,
Accordia deposited the proceeds plus applicable interest, a
total of $207, 712.80, with the Clerk of Court. See
Interpleader Deposit Receipt, ECF 63. On December 7, 2018,
the Court dismissed Accordia with prejudice. See
Order Granting Dismissal of Interpleader Plaintiff with
Prejudice, ECF 68.
on May 30, 2018, Defendants J.P. and H.P. crossclaimed
against Defendant Nam for declaratory judgment that J.P. and
H.P. are entitled to some or all of the 40% policy benefit
designated by Pham to J.P. and H.P. See J.P. &
H.P. Answer and Crossclaim, ECF 25. Also on May 30, 2018,
Defendant Nguyen crossclaimed against Defendant Nam for
declaratory judgment that Nguyen is entitled to the 60%
policy benefit designated by Pham to Nguyen. See
Nguyen Answer and Crossclaim, ECF 26.
January 2, 2019, the Clerk entered Default as to Vo Thi Be
Nam. See Entry of Default, ECF 73. On March 12,
2019, Nguyen, H.P., and J.P. filed the instant motion for
default judgment against Nam in regard to decedent Pham's
$200, 000 life insurance policy. See Motion, ECF 74.
March 15, 2019, the Court received a letter from Defendant
Nam. See Letter No. 1, ECF 75. This letter provides
Nam's email address and mailing address and appears to
request access to the docket. See Id. On March 18,
2019, the Court ordered Nguyen, J.P., and H.P. to serve Nam
by email with the instant Motion and notice of the associated
hearing, see ECF 76, which were so served on March
20, 2019, see ECF 77. On April 8, 2018, the Court
received a second letter from Defendant Nam. See
Letter No. 2, ECF 78. This letter states that Nam and Pham
married on December 21, 2008, that they had two children
together, and that Pham had a stroke at a birthday party for
one of their children and died on February 27, 2017. See
Id. The Court subsequently granted Nam permission to
appear telephonically at the upcoming hearing on the Motion.
Court heard oral argument on the Motion on June 20, 2019
(“the Hearing”). Nguyen, J.P., and H.P. appeared
at the Hearing through counsel; however, Nam failed to appear
in person or telephonically.
may be entered against a party who fails to plead or
otherwise defend an action, who is neither a minor nor an
incompetent person, and against whom a judgment for
affirmative relief is sought. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a).
entry of default, a court may, in its discretion, enter
default judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2); Aldabe v.
Aldabe, 616 F.2d 1089, 1092 (9th Cir. 1980). In deciding
whether to enter default judgment, a court may consider the
following factors: (1) the possibility of prejudice to the
plaintiff; (2) the merits of the 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 v. McCool, 782 F.2d
1470, 1471-72 (9th Cir. 1986). In considering these factors,
all factual allegations in the plaintiff's complaint are
taken as true, except those relating to damages.
TeleVideo Sys., Inc. v. Heidenthal, 826 F.2d 915,
917-18 (9th Cir. 1987). When the damages claimed are not