Arizona Cardinals Football Club, Inc. et al v. Bryant et al

Filing 19

ORDER AND DEFAULT JUDGMENT: ORDERED that plas' motion for default judgment 18 is granted. The arbitration award in the amount of $2,767,778.00 (see Dkt #1-2 at 23-24) is confirmed. Default judgment is entered in favor of plas and against dft Wendell Bryant in the amount of $2,767,778.00, plus interest. Plas are awarded attorneys' fees and costs in the amount of $6,763.00. The Clerk is directed to terminate this action. Signed by Judge David G Campbell on 4/6/2009. (LAD, )

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 WO IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF ARIZONA Arizona Cardinals Football Club, Inc., an Arizona corporation; and National Football League Management Council, a non-profit association, Plaintiffs, vs. Wendell Bryant, an unmarried man, Defendant. ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) No. CV-08-1541-PHX-DGC ORDER AND DEFAULT JUDGMENT Wendell Bryant is a former football player for the Arizona Cardinals. Pursuant to the NFL collective bargaining agreement, the Cardinals and Bryant submitted separate noninjury grievances to an NFL arbitrator. The arbitrator denied Bryant's grievance and sustained the Cardinals' grievance, awarding the club $2,767,778. The Cardinals and the NFL Management Council filed a complaint seeking an order confirming the arbitration award pursuant to the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 185 ("LMRA"). Dkt. #1. Bryant has not answered or otherwise responded to the complaint. The Clerk entered Bryant's default pursuant to Rule 55(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Dkt. #12. Plaintiffs have filed a motion for default judgment. Dkt. #18. For reasons stated below, the Court will grant the motion. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 Because Bryant's default has been properly entered (see Dkt. ##6, 11, 12), the Court has discretion to grant default judgment pursuant to Rule 55(b). See Aldabe v. Aldabe, 616 F.2d 1089, 1092 (9th Cir. 1980). Factors the Court should consider include (1) the possibility of prejudice to Plaintiffs, (2) the merits of the claim, (3) the sufficiency of the complaint, (4) the amount of money at stake, (5) the possibility of a dispute concerning material facts, (6) whether default was due to excusable neglect, and (7) the policy favoring a decision on the merits. See Eitel v. McCool, 782 F.2d 1470, 1471-72 (9th Cir. 1986). A. Possible Prejudice to Plaintiffs. The first Eitel factor weighs in favor of granting default judgment because Plaintiffs will be prejudiced if default judgment is not entered. Plaintiffs served process on Bryant more than seven months ago. See Dkt. #6. Bryant has not responded to the complaint or otherwise shown an intention to defend this action. If Plaintiffs' motion for default judgment is not granted, Plaintiffs "will likely be without other recourse for recovery." PepsiCo, Inc. v. Cal. Security Cans, 238 F. Supp. 2d 1172, 1177 (C.D. Cal. 2002). B. The Merits of the Claim and the Sufficiency of the Complaint. The second and third Eitel factors favor a default judgment where the complaint states a claim for relief under the notice pleading standards of Rule 8. See Cal. Security Cans, 238 F. Supp. 2d at 1175; Danning v. Lavine, 572 F.2d 1386, 1388-89 (9th Cir. 1978). Plaintiffs' complaint alleges that Bryant has violated the grievance and arbitration procedures in the NFL collective bargaining agreement by failing to comply with the terms of the arbitration award. Dkt. #1. This is sufficient to state a plausible claim for confirmation of the arbitration award under the LMRA. See Grammar v. Artists Agency, 287 F.3d 886, 890 (9th Cir. 2002); Major League Baseball Players Ass'n v. Garvey, 532 U.S. 504, 509 (2001). The second and third Eitel factors therefore favor a default judgment. C. The Amount of Money at Stake. Under the fourth Eitel factor, the Court considers the amount of money at stake in relation to the seriousness of the defendant's conduct. See Cal. Security Cans, 238 F. Supp. 2d at 1176. Plaintiffs have obtained a valid arbitration award against Bryant in the amount -2- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 $2,767,778. While the amount of the award is substantial, it is not unreasonable on its face given the size of player salaries in the NFL. Moreover, Bryant has presented no explanation or defense for his failure to pay the award. This factor weighs in favor of a default judgment. See Bd. of Trs. of Cal. Metal Trades v. Pitchometer Propeller, No. C-97-2661-VRW, 1997 WL 7979222, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 15, 1997) (granting default judgment where amount of money at stake was reasonable and justified). D. Possible Dispute Concerning Material Facts. Given the sufficiency of the complaint and Bryant's default (see Dkt. ##1, 12), "no genuine dispute of material facts would preclude granting [Plaintiffs'] motion." Cal. Security Cans, 238 F. Supp. 2d at 1177; see Geddes, 559 F.2d at 560. Moreover, even if factual disputes existed, the Court's scope of review is extremely limited under the LMRA. See Garvey, 532 U.S. at 509. E. Whether Default Was Due to Excusable Neglect. Bryant was properly served with process. See Dkt. #6; Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(e); Ariz. R. Civ. P. 4.1(d). It therefore is "unlikely that [his] failure to answer and the resulting default was the result of excusable neglect." Gemmel v. Systemhouse, Inc., No. CIV 04-187-TUCCKJ, 2008 WL 65604, at *5 (D. Ariz. Jan. 3, 2008). F. The Policy Favoring a Decision on the Merits. "Cases should be decided upon their merits whenever reasonably possible." Eitel, 782 F.2d at 1472. But the mere existence of Rule 55(b) "indicates that this preference, standing alone, is not dispositive." Cal. Security Cans, 238 F. Supp. at 1177 (citation omitted). Moreover, Bryant's failure to defend this action "makes a decision on the merits impractical[.]" Id. The Court therefore is not precluded from entering default judgment against Bryant. See id.; Gemmel, 2008 WL 65604 at *5. G. Conclusion. Having reviewed Plaintiffs' motion, and having carefully considered the Eitel factors as a whole, the Court concludes that, pursuant to Rule 55(b), the entry of default judgment is appropriate. -3- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 IT IS ORDERED: 1. 2. Plaintiffs' motion for default judgment (Dkt. #18) is granted. The arbitration award in the amount of $2,767,778.00 (see Dkt. #1-2 at 23-24) is confirmed. 3. Default judgment is entered in favor of Plaintiffs and against Defendant Wendell Bryant in the amount of $2,767,778.00, plus interest. 4. 5. Plaintiffs are awarded attorneys' fees and costs in the amount of $6,763.00. The Clerk is directed to terminate this action. DATED this 6th day of April, 2009. -4-

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