Nutrien Ag Solutions, Inc. v. Holley
OPINION. Signed by Honorable Judge Myron H. Thompson on 11/15/2023. (am, )
IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA, NORTHERN DIVISION
NUTRIEN AG SOLUTIONS,
INC., f/k/a Crop
Production Services, Inc., )
JOHN T. HOLLEY,
CIVIL ACTION NO.
action for breach of contract against defendant John T.
Jurisdiction is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1332
default against Holley at the request of Nutrien.
cause is now before the court on Nutrien’s motion for
entry of default judgment, which seeks damages in the
amount of $ 144,536.58 (plus interest), attorneys’ fees
in the amount of $ 4,504.25, and costs in the amount of
I. DEFAULT JUDGMENT STANDARD
Default alone does not warrant entry of a default
See Tyco Fire & Sec. LLC v. Alcocer, 218 F.
App’x 860, 863 (11th Cir. 2007)).
“[A] default is not
liability and of the plaintiff’s right to recover,’ but
is instead merely ‘an admission of the facts cited in
the Complaint, which by themselves may or may not be
Capitol Recs. v. Carmichael, 508 F. Supp. 2d 1079, 1083
However, “[t]he defendant is not held to admit facts
that are not well-pleaded or to admit conclusions of
Nishimatsu Constr. Co. v. Houston Nat’l Bank,
515 F.2d 1200, 1206 (5th Cir. 1975) (emphasis omitted).1
A default judgment, including the specific nature
and extent of the relief sought, must be adequately
1. In Bonner v. City of Prichard, 661 F.2d 1206,
1209 (11th Cir. 1981) (en banc), the Eleventh Circuit
Court of Appeals adopted as binding precedent all
decisions of the former Fifth Circuit handed down prior
to the close of business on September 30, 1981.
supported in the record.
See Anheuser–Busch, Inc. v.
Philpot, 317 F.3d 1264, 1266 (11th Cir. 2003) (“A court
has an obligation to assure that there is a legitimate
basis for any damage award it enters....”).
See Antoine v. Atlas Turner, Inc., 66
F.3d 105, 111 (6th Cir. 1995) (“Use of affidavits in
Based on the well pleaded factual allegations of
the complaint and the declarations submitted by Wendy
Glass and Patrick L. W. Sefton in support of the motion
On August 23, 2022, Nutrien and Holley signed a
promissory note that obligated Holley to repay Nutrien
for the value of goods and services it had provided to
$ 297,760.93 in principal, $ 47,121.78 in interest, and
$ 16,888.04 in late charges.
Interest accrued on the
principal balance at a rate of 9 % per annum.
prescribed a payment schedule, under which Holley would
pay down $ 225,000 of the total on September 1, 2022;
October 1, 2022; and November 1, 2022.
outstanding charges were due, was February 1, 2023.
the event of default, the note required Holley to pay
Nutrien’s attorneys’ fees and costs.
Holley made one $ 225,000 payment in October 2022
but otherwise failed to pay off the note.
the October payment and interest, he owes Nutrien a
$ 54,862.61 in interest, $ 16,888.04 in late charges,
and $ 25.00 in non-sufficient funds fees.2
2. The outstanding principal due under the loan
does not, by itself, satisfy the amount-in-controversy
requirement for the court to exercise diversity
outstanding principal and the attorneys’ fees sought by
Nutrien exceeds $ 75,000.
Because the promissory note
provided for the collection of reasonable attorneys’
Nutrien filed this lawsuit against Holley on April
25, 2023, seeking to recover the full amount due under
the note, plus fees and costs.
Six days later, Nutrien
served Holley with a summons and copy of the complaint.
See Proof of Service (Doc. 3).
Holley did not answer
On June 30, 2023, Nutrien applied for an entry of
default and filed a motion for default judgment.
court of clerk entered default against Holley on August
See Clerk’s Entry of Default (Doc. 7).
heard from Holley.
hearing is not required on Nutrien’s motion for default
While “[t]he court may conduct hearings ...
fees, the attorneys’ fees can count toward the
See Federated Mut.
Ins. Co. v. McKinnon Motors, LLC, 329 F.3d 805, 808 n.4
(11th Cir. 2003) (“The general rule is that attorneys’
fees do not count towards the amount in controversy
unless they are allowed for by statute or contract.”).
when, to enter or effectuate judgment, it needs to: ...
55(b)(2), “Rule 55 does not require that testimony be
presented as a prerequisite to the entry of a default
10A Fed. Prac. & Proc. Civ. § 2688 (4th
ed. (April 2023)).
As the outstanding balance Nutrien
now seeks is clearly supported in the record and does
not require expert evidence or complex calculations,
there is no need for a hearing here.
representative must be served with written notice of
the application at least 7 days before the hearing.”
Holley at his last known address over four months ago.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 5(b)(2)(C) (permitting service by
“mailing it to the person’s last known address—in which
event service is complete upon mailing”).
received sufficient notice under Rule 55(b)(2).
$ 4,504.25, and costs in the amount of $ 634.53.
interest as required under the note.
In addition, the
note provides for the recovery of attorneys’ fees and
After review of the declarations, and, in the absence
of any objection from Holley, the court concludes that
reasonable and necessary to litigate this matter.
accrued between the time it filed its complaint and the
entry of judgment.
Nutrien is entitled to $ 3,819.97,
which reflects interest calculated at a rate of 9 % per
annum for each calendar month that has passed since the
complaint was filed.3
3. The note provides that default interest will
accrue at a rate of 18 % per annum.
affidavit submitted in support of the motion for entry
An appropriate judgment will be entered.
DONE, this the 15th day of November, 2023.
/s/ Myron H. Thompson
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
of default judgment states that Nutrien is seeking
default interest at a rate of only 9 % per annum. See
Affidavit of Wendy Glass (Doc. 5-2) ¶ 9.
has, therefore, used the lower of these two interest
rates to calculate the amount of default interest to
which Nutrien is entitled.
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