Magness v. Eaton et al
ORDER AND REASONS granting 19 Motion for Default Judgment as to liability of Randi Eaton. The issue of damages must await trial. Signed by Judge Martin L.C. Feldman on 7/27/2017. (clc)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
JERRY D. MAGNESS
RANDI EATON, ET AL.
ORDER AND REASONS
Local Rule 7.5 of the Eastern District of Louisiana requires
that memoranda in opposition to a motion be filed eight days prior
to the noticed submission date.
No memoranda in opposition to the
plaintiff’s motion for default judgment as to liability of Randi
Eaton, noticed for submission on July 26, 2017, has been submitted.
Accordingly, because the motion is unopposed, and further, it
appearing to the Court that the motion has merit, 1 IT IS ORDERED:
This case arises from a car accident in which the plaintiff
alleges that defendant Randi Eaton was driving a 1993 Chevrolet
Lumina southbound on Pontchartrain Drive, and crossed over the
center line, causing a head-on collision with the plaintiff’s
The plaintiff contends that he has suffered multiple
serious injuries that have required multiple surgeries. Ms. Eaton
was cited for careless operation of a motor vehicle, no driver’s
license, and no insurance. When Ms. Eaton failed to appear for
the citation, an attachment was issued for her arrest. Ms. Eaton
testified at her deposition that she intends to pay the required
fine. Despite being personally served, Ms. Eaton has failed to
answer or otherwise appear, and the Clerk of Court entered a
default against Ms. Eaton pursuant to Rule 55(a) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure. Ms. Eaton still has not appeared.
that the plaintiff’s motion for default judgment as to liability
of Randi Eaton is hereby GRANTED as unopposed.
The issue of
damages must await trial. 2
New Orleans, Louisiana, July 27, 2017
MARTIN L. C. FELDMAN
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
The plaintiff submits that a default judgment should now
issue. The Court agrees. The prerequisites for a default judgment
are present in this matter.
Indeed, the factors support the
plaintiff; Ms. Eaton’s willful failure to appear supports issuing
a default judgment. Ms. Eaton’s default was not caused by good
faith mistake or excusable neglect and despite being served, Ms.
Eaton has admitted to counsel that she received process, yet has
failed to appear. Because the plaintiff seeks only a judgment as
to Ms. Eaton’s liability at this time and damages resulting
therefrom, a default judgment would not be overly harsh; the issue
of what damages, if any, the plaintiff is entitled to compensate
him, and any liability or damages on the part of State Farm’s
alleged bad faith claims handling practices, are reserved for
trial. As to whether there are material issues of fact, Ms. Eaton
through her default has admitted to the facts as established by
the plaintiff’s pleadings. Moreover, there has been no substantial
prejudice to Ms. Eaton, given that she received proper notice of
The Court observes that Ms. Eaton has also
consulted with counsel and participated in a videotaped
Notwithstanding having been properly served with
summons and complaint several months ago, Ms. Eaton has failed to
appear such that the grounds for default are clearly established.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 55; see also Lindsey v. Prive Corp., 161 F.3d
886, 893 (5th Cir. 1998).
2 The default judgment against Ms. Eaton has no bearing on the
liability and damages issues that remain to be tried against State
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