Quality Diesel Service, Inc. v. Hayden Evans MV et al
ORDER AND REASONS granting 8 Motion for Default Judgment. Judgment shall be entered against J&M Towing, LLC in the amount of $ 39,987.97, plus prejudgment and post judgment legal interest thereon, for unpaid repairs and parts provided by Plai ntiff Quality Diesel Service, Inc. In addition, Plaintiff shall be awarded attorney's fees and costs pursuant to Louisiana Revised Statutes 9:2781. Plaintiff shall file an Affidavit of Attorneys Fees and Costs incurred in obtaining this Judgment within 21 days of this Order so that reasonable attorney's fees may be calculated.Signed by Judge Jane Triche Milazzo on 10/18/2016. (my)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
QUALITY DIESEL SERVICE, INC.
HAYDEN EVANS MV ET AL.
ORDER AND REASONS
Before the Court is Plaintiff’s Motion for Entry of Default Judgment
(Doc. 8). For the following reasons, the Motion is GRANTED.
This is an action to enforce a maritime lien against Defendant J&M
Towing, LLC (“J&M”) and the vessel M/V HAYDEN EVANS (the “EVANS”).
Plaintiff, Quality Diesel Service, Inc., alleges that it provided parts and labor
for the repair of the EVANS that were essential to its operation. J&M has
failed to pay the invoices for this work, despite amicable demand. Plaintiff
brought this suit alleging that J&M owes it $ 39,987.97 for the work performed
and that it has a lien on the EVANS in this amount.
Plaintiff served J&M with process on June 20, 2016. J&M has not made
any appearance in this litigation. Default was entered against J&M on August
1, 2016. Plaintiff now moves for the entry of a default judgment.
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b), a default judgment may be
entered against a party who fails to plead or otherwise respond to the
complaint within the required time period. Default may be entered against a
defendant when the plaintiff shows “by affidavit or otherwise” that the
defendant has failed to appear. 1 By virtue of the default, Plaintiff’s wellpleaded allegations of fact are deemed admitted. 2 After default is entered, the
plaintiff may move for default judgment. 3
The decision to enter default
judgment is within the sound discretion of the trial court. 4
LAW AND ANALYSIS
Before entering default judgment, the Fifth Circuit has admonished
district courts to examine the basis of jurisdiction “both over the subject matter
and the parties.” 5 In accordance with this mandate, the Court first examines
I. Subject Matter Jurisdiction
Before entering a default judgment, the Court has an affirmative duty to
investigate its subject matter jurisdiction. 6
Jurisdiction in this matter is
premised in admiralty. Plaintiff alleges a maritime lien against the EVANS
and bring a state law suit on open account against J&M. It also brings a breach
of contract claim against J&M in the alternative. “A contract for the repair of
FED. R. CIV. P. 55(a).
Nishimatsu Const. Co., Ltd. V. Houston Nat’l. Bank, 515 F.2d 1200, 1206 (5th Cir.
FED. R. CIV. P. 55(b)(2).
Lewis v. Lynn, 236 F.3d 766, 767 (5th Cir. 2001).
5 Sys. Pipe & Supply, Inc. v. M/V Viktor Kurnatovskiy, 242 F.3d 322, 324 (5th Cir.
a vessel is a maritime contract, governed by general maritime law.” 7 In
addition, maritime liens are within admiralty jurisdiction and may be enforced
in an in rem proceeding. 8
Accordingly, this Court has subject matter
jurisdiction over this action.
II. Personal Jurisdiction
Plaintiff’s Complaint alleges that J&M operates its principal place of
business in Houma, Louisiana. This allegation is sufficient to establish general
jurisdiction over the LLC. General jurisdiction “exists when a non-resident
defendant’s contacts with the forum state are substantial, continuous, and
systematic.” 9 “The paradigm all-purpose forums for general jurisdiction are a
corporation’s place of incorporation and principal place of business.” 10
III. Suit on Open Account
In entering default judgment, the Court is mindful that such judgments
are “generally disfavored in the law and thus should not be granted on the
claim, without more, that the defendant has failed to meet a procedural time
requirement.” 11 “A defendant’s default does not in itself warrant the court in
entering a default judgment” as “[t]here must be a sufficient basis in the
pleadings for the judgment entered.” 12 “The defendant is not held to admit
facts that are not well-pleaded or to admit conclusions of law.” 13 “A default
judgment is unassailable on the merits . . . only so far as it is supported by
One Beacon Ins. Co. v. Crowley Marine Servs., Inc., 648 F.3d 258, 262 (5th Cir.
See Effjohn Int’l Cruise Holdings, Inc. v. A&L Sales, Inc., 346 F.3d 552, 556 (5th
9 Johnston v. Multidata Sys. Int’l Corp., 523 F.3d 602, 609 (5th Cir. 2008).
10 Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S. Ct. 746, 749 (2014).
11 Lacy v. Sitel Corp., 227 F.3d 290, 292 (5th Cir. 2000) (internal quotations omitted).
12 Nishimatsu Construction Co. v. Houston Nat’l Bank, 515 F.2d 1200, 1206 (5th Cir.
13 Id. (emphasis in original).
well-pleaded allegations, assumed to be true.” 14 Accordingly, the reviewing
court must “ensure that the unchallenged facts constitute a legitimate cause
of action.” 15 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.” 16 Accordingly, in order to grant damages, the amount must be
Pursuant to Louisiana’s law on open accounts,
When any person fails to pay an open account within thirty days
after the claimant sends written demand therefor correctly setting
forth the amount owed, that person shall be liable to the claimant
for reasonable attorney fees for the prosecution and collection of
such claim when judgment on the claim is rendered in favor of the
Plaintiff’s Complaint establishes that it sent J&M written demand for the
amount owed and such was not paid within 30 days. Accordingly, Plaintiff is
entitled to a judgment in the amount of $ 39,987.97, which has been
established by affidavit and invoices attached to the Complaint. In addition,
Louisiana’s open account law provides for an award for attorney’s fees for the
prosecution and collection of a claim. Accordingly, Plaintiff is also “entitled to
recover reasonable attorney’s fees, costs, and prejudgment and post judgment
legal interest in obtaining this Judgment.” 18
For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff’s Motion for Default is granted.
Judgment shall be entered against J&M Towing, LLC in the amount of
Id. (citing Thomson v. Wooster, 114 U.S. 104, 113 (1884)).
Farrell v. Landrieu, No. 14-0072, 2016 WL 1714227, at *2 (E.D. La. Apr. 1, 2016).
16 United Artists Corp. v. Freeman, 605 F.2d 854, 857 (5th Cir. 1979).
17 La. Rev. Stat. § 9:2781.
18 Int’l Constr. Equip., Inc. v. Laborde Constr. Indus., L.L.C., No. 15-433, 2016 WL
4480689, at *3 (M.D. La. Aug. 24, 2016).
$ 39,987.97, plus prejudgment and post judgment legal interest thereon, for
unpaid repairs and parts provided by Plaintiff Quality Diesel Service, Inc. In
addition, Plaintiff shall be awarded attorney’s fees and costs pursuant to
Louisiana Revised Statutes § 9:2781.
Plaintiff shall file an Affidavit of
Attorney’s Fees and Costs incurred in obtaining this Judgment within 21 days
of this Order so that reasonable attorney’s fees may be calculated.
New Orleans, Louisiana this 18th day of October, 2016.
JANE TRICHE MILAZZO
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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