UC Acquistion Corp v. Salem Nursing & Rehab Center of Tuskegee, Inc.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER: 1. Unicare's Motion for Default Judgment 8 is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART. It is granted to the extent that it seeks a default judgment; it is denied to the extent that it requests attorneys' fees and extra-contractual damages. 2. Default judgment is ENTERED against Salem Nursing & Rehab Center of Tuskegee, Inc. on liability for breach of contract.3. A hearing is set for February 22, 2012 at 9:00 A.M. in the United States Courthouse, One Church St reet, Courtroom 2A, Montgomery, Alabama, to determine Unicare's damages stemming from Salem's breach of contract and what costs, if any, Unicare can recover. Signed by Honorable Judge Mark E. Fuller on 1/12/2012. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Appeals Checklist)(jg, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
UC ACQUISITION CORP., doing
business as UNICARE,
SALEM NURSING & REHAB
CENTER OF TUSKEGEE, INC.,
Case No. 3:11-cv-443-MEF
(WO—Do not publish)
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
This cause comes before the Court on Plaintiff Unicare’s Motion for Default
Judgment (Doc. # 8). The Clerk of Court has already entered default against the
defendant, Salem Nursing & Rehab Center of Tuskegee (Doc. # 10), meaning that all
well-pled factual allegations against Salem Nursing have been deemed admitted. See Fed.
R. Civ. P. 55(a); Buchanan v. Bowman, 820 F.2d 359, 361 (11th Cir. 1987). The Court
must therefore accept these facts as true and determine whether they state a claim upon
which relief may be granted. See Anheuser-Busch, Inc. v. Philpot, 317 F.3d 1264, 1266
(11th Cir. 2003). After thoroughly reviewing the pleadings and the contract between the
parties, the Court finds that Unicare has stated valid claims against Salem Nursing.1
The Court should note its concern about the timing of the lawsuit. The contract between the
parties went into effect sometime around 1998 or 1999 and, by its terms, ended in 2001. Yet Unicare
waited until 2011 to file suit for breach. This delay by Unicare triggers statute of limitations concerns,
Accordingly, Unicare is entitled to have default judgment entered in its favor.
Once a court determines that it should enter a default judgment on liability, it then
turns to damages. See Chudasama v. Mazda Motor Corp., 123 F.3d 1353, 1364 n.27 (11th
Cir. 1997). “If, in order to enable the court to enter judgment . . . it is necessary to take an
account or to determine the amount of damages . . . the court may conduct such hearings
or order such references as it deems necessary and proper . . . .” Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b)(2).
But a hearing is not always required. The Court can award damages without one where
the “amount claimed is a liquidated sum or one capable of mathematical calculation,” or
if there is “a demonstration by detailed affidavits establishing the necessary facts.”
Adolph Coors Co. v. Movement Against Racism & the Klan, 777 F.2d 1538, 1543 (11th
Here, the contract at issue, which Unicare has attached as an exhibit, does not
contain a liquidated damages clause. Instead, the contract required Unicare to submit
invoices to Salem for the amounts owed as they came due. Although Unicare has
especially considering how Alabama has a six-year limitations period for contract claims. See Ala. Code
§ 6-2-34(9). But these concerns are not for the Court’s consideration. In fact, because the statute of
limitations is an affirmative defense (and a waivable one at that), the Court cannot properly raise the
issue on its own motion. See Arizona v. California, 530 U.S. 392, 412–13 (2000) (stating courts should
raise statute of limitations defense on own motion only in narrow circumstances); Erline Co. S.A. v.
Johnson, 440 F.3d 648, 654–56 (4th Cir. 2006) (finding district court erred by considering statute of
limitations defense on its own motion after plaintiff moved for default judgment); Haskell v. Wash. Twp.,
864 F.2d 1266, 1273 (6th Cir. 1988) (“Since it is a waivable defense, it ordinarily is error for a district
court to raise the [statute of limitations] sua sponte.”); Davis v. Bryan, 810 F.2d 42, 45 (2d Cir. 1987)
(concluding sua sponte consideration of statute of limitations an “error of law”); Wagner v. Fawcett
Publ’ns, 307 F.2d 409, 412 (7th Cir. 1962) (observing that statute of limitations is “a personal privilege
of the defendant,” and that district court erred in raising it sua sponte). Consequently, the Court has
ignored Unicare’s delay for the purposes of deciding its motion for default judgment.
submitted an affidavit claiming that Salem owes $181,918.61, the document lacks the
detail necessary for the Court, without further proof, to award damages in the claimed
amount. See, e.g., Adolf Coors, 777 F.2d at 1543 (requiring documentary evidence or
detailed affidavits before district court can dispense with evidentiary hearing); United
Artists Corp. v. Freeman, 605 F.2d 854, 857 (5th Cir. 1979) (“ . . . a judgment by default
may not be entered without a hearing unless the amount claimed is a liquidated sum or
one capable of mathematical calculation.”).2 As a result, the Court will have a hearing on
the matter at a later date, and Unicare will have the opportunity to prove its damages then.
Unicare also seems to request attorneys’ fees, accrued interest, and costs of
collection in its motion for default judgment. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,
however, only allow a court to order the payment of “costs other than attorney’s
fees . . . to the prevailing party . . . .” Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(d)(1) (emphasis added). To get
attorneys’ fees after winning a default judgment, a federal statute—like Title VII, for
example—has to expressly provide for their recovery. Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(d)(1). Because
Unicare has failed to show that federal law allows it to recover attorneys’ fees, its motion
is denied to the extent that it asks for them. Similarly, the motion is denied insofar as it
seeks to recover costs outside the purview of either the contract or the relevant federal
statute expressly allowing for the recovery of certain specified costs. See 28 U.S.C. §
In Bonner v. City of Prichard, 661 F.2d 1206, 1209 (11th Cir. 1981) (en banc), the Eleventh
Circuit adopted as binding precedent all Fifth Circuit decisions handed down before the close of business
on September 30, 1981.
1920 (allowing party to recover costs listed); Crawford Fitting Co. v. J.T. Gibbons, Inc.,
482 U.S. 437, 441–42 (1987) (holding that party prevailing on Rule 54 motion can
recover “costs” listed in 28 U.S.C. §1920).
For the reasons discussed above, it is hereby ORDERED as follows:
Unicare’s Motion for Default Judgment (Doc. # 8) is GRANTED IN PART
and DENIED IN PART. It is granted to the extent that it seeks a default
judgment; it is denied to the extent that it requests attorneys’ fees and extracontractual damages.
Default judgment is ENTERED against Salem Nursing & Rehab Center of
Tuskegee, Inc. on liability for breach of contract.
A hearing is set for February 22, 2012 at 9:00 A.M. in the United States
Courthouse, One Church Street, Courtroom 2A, Montgomery, Alabama, to
determine Unicare’s damages stemming from Salem’s breach of contract
and what costs, if any, Unicare can recover.
DONE this the 12 th day of January, 2012.
/s/ Mark E. Fuller
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?