Tucker et al v. Mirage Yacht Inc. et al
ORDER denying 19 Emergency Motion to Modify Order Granting Default Judgment. Signed by Judge Robert N. Scola, Jr on 8/24/2017. (lrz1)
United States District Court
Southern District of Florida
Joanne Tucker and Shaun Tucker,
Federal Lien Corp., and Mirage
Yacht, Inc., Defendants.
) Civil Action No. 17-21496-Civ-Scola
Order Denying Motion to Modify Order Granting Default Judgment
This matter is before the Court on the Defendant Mirage Yacht, Inc.’s
emergency motion to modify the order granting default judgment. (Mot., ECF No.
19.) In the default judgment order, the Court permitted the Plaintiffs Joanne and
Shaun Tucker to retake possession of the vessel at issue––a 1998 Dufour with
Hull Identification Number of DUFC0544C898) (“the Vessel”)––from Mirage,
pursuant to an order entered by Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga in separate
proceedings. (Order, ECF No. 18.) The Court has considered the motion, the
Plaintiffs’ response (ECF No. 21), Mirage’s reply (ECF No. 22), the record, and the
relevant legal authorities. For the reasons stated below, the Court denies the
motion (ECF No. 19).
On April 25, 2017, Mirage and co-Defendant Federal Lien Corporation,
without representation of counsel, appeared before this Court for a hearing on the
Tucker’s verified complaint for injunctive and declaratory relief. All parties agreed
to entry of a temporary restraining order, precluding the nonjudicial sale of the
subject Vessel. (Order, ECF No. 9.) The Court ordered the Defendants to respond
to the complaint within twenty days and ordered Federal Lien to retain counsel.
(Id.) Neither Mirage nor Federal Lien complied with the Court’s order.
The Clerk then entered default against Mirage and Federal Lien on May 19,
2017. On May 22, 2017, the Court informed Mirage and Federal Lien that if they
failed to move to vacate the Clerk’s default on or before June 1, 2017, then
default judgment could be entered against them. Neither Mirage nor Federal Lien
responded. On June 5, 2017, the Defendants received the Tucker’s motion for
default judgment. Neither Mirage nor Federal Lien responded. On July 31, 2017,
the Court entered default judgment against both Defendants.
Then, fifteen days after entry of judgment, and 113 days after the hearing
on the temporary restraining order, Mirage reappeared in this case with the
present “emergency” motion to modify the default judgment. In other words, after
failing to assert any rights or defenses over a period of several months, Mirage
suddenly attempts to stop the effects of the Court’s order.1 Mirage complains that
The Court notes that Mirage does not request that this Court vacate the default judgment.
this Court’s order exceeds the relief requested by the Tuckers. (Mot. at 3–4.) And
yet, the relief that Mirage seems to seek—payment of storage fees––must be
sought by Mirage, and not by the Tuckers.
Mirage allegedly holds a maritime lien for payment of $64,060.00 in storage
fees. (Comp. ¶¶ 14, 17, ECF No. 1.) Even assuming Mirage’s maritime lien is
valid, that lien does not give rise to an automatic right of possession of the Vessel.
Crimson Yachts v. Betty Lyn II Motor Yacht, 603 F.3d 864, 871 (11th Cir. 2010)
(“[M]aritime liens do not depend on the injured party’s possession of the vessel; a
maritime lien travels with the vessel wherever it goes, regardless of into whose
hands it may pass, whether or not the lien is recorded.”); Vandewater v. Mills,
Claimant of Yankee Blade, 60 U.S. 82, 89 (1856) (“The maritime ‘privilege’ or lien
is adopted from the civil law, and imports a tacit hypothecation of the subject of
it. It is a ‘jus in re,’ without actual possession or any right of possession.”)
(emphasis added). As far as this Court has been informed, Mirage to date has not
sought a warrant of arrest in rem against the vessel to enforce its maritime lien.
Mirage must avail itself of the proper remedies to obtain the relief it seeks—and
this Court will not instruct Mirage on archaic and yet firmly established rules and
law of maritime claims.
The Tuckers have obtained two orders from the United States District Court
for the Southern District of Florida permitting the Tuckers to retake possession of
the Vessel, and ordering the Defendants to allow reasonable access to their
property for this purpose. (Order, Case No. 15-cr-20008-CMA, ECF No. 91;
Order, Case No. 17-cv-21496-RNS, ECF No. 18.) These orders do not foreclose
any rights the Defendants may have to seek enforcement of a maritime lien. The
Court again orders that pursuant to Judge Altonaga’s order, the Tuckers are
permitted to retake possession of the Vessel, and the Defendants shall allow
reasonable access to their property for this purpose.
Accordingly, the Court denies Mirage’s motion to modify the order granting
default judgment (ECF No. 19).
Done and ordered in chambers at Miami, Florida on August 24, 2017.
Robert N. Scola, Jr.
United States District Judge
Dorta & Ortega, P.A.
3860 SW 8th Street, Penthouse
Coral Gables, Florida 33134
Counsel for Mirage Yacht, Inc.
318 Indian Trace
Weston, Florida 33326
Owner of Federal Lien Corp., Inc.
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