Demello et al v. United States of America et al

Filing 60

ORDER by Judge Benjamin H. Settle granting 59 Motion for Default Judgment.(TG)

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1 2 3 4 5 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AT TACOMA 6 7 8 JAMIE DEMELLO, et al., Plaintiffs, 9 10 v. CASE NO. C16-5741 ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et al., 11 Defendants. 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff’s motion for default judgment. Dkt. 59. Plaintiffs move for entry of default judgment against Defendant Adonis Brown in the sum of $1,130,000. Id. On December 13, 2016, the Clerk entered default against Brown. Dkt. 15. On April 30, 2018, Plaintiffs moved for entry of default judgment. Dkt. 59 Plaintiffs move for entry of default judgment pursuant to Rule 55(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Dkt. 59. However, the entry of default judgment pursuant to Rule 55(b)(1) is allowed only where a claim is for a “sum certain or a sum that can be made certain by computation.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b)(1). If a claim is not for a 22 ORDER - 1 1 sum certain, a party must apply to the Court for default judgment. Fed. R. Civ. P. 2 55(b)(2). Under Rule 55(b)(2), “factual allegations in the complaint relating to liability 3 are automatically taken as true, but allegations regarding the amount of damages are not.” 4 Taylor Made Golf Co., Inc. v. Carsten Sports, Ltd., 175 F.R.D. 658, 661 (S.D. Cal. 1997). 5 Accordingly, a motion must be supported by evidence establishing an appropriate sum of 6 damages. The Court may conduct hearings or make referrals when it needs to “(A) 7 conduct an accounting; (B) determine the amount of damages; (C) establish the truth of 8 any allegation by evidence; or (D) investigate any other matter.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b)(2). 9 “A default judgment may be entered without a hearing on damages when the amount 10 claimed is capable of ascertainment from definite figures contained in the documentary 11 evidence or in detailed affidavits.” Taylor Made Golf Co., Inc., 175 F.R.D. at 661. 12 The Court determines that neither the physical and mental pain and suffering 13 alleged by Plaintiffs, nor the economic damages suffered from Plaintiff Alexander 14 Demello’s premature loss of life constitute a “sum certain” for the purposes of Rule 15 55(b)(1). Accordingly, any entry of default judgment must be granted by the Court 16 pursuant to Rule 55(b)(2). Nonetheless, Plaintiffs have submitted a research summary 17 from the Social Security Administration indicating $1,130,000 as the estimated lifetime 18 earnings of a male with less than a high school education. See Dkt. 59-1. The Court finds 19 that this adequately supports a finding that Plaintiffs are entitled to $1,130,000 of 20 economic damages in the context of Alexander Demello’s survival action. This amount 21 does not account for medical, hospital, medication expenses, and emotional damages to 22 which the surviving Plaintiffs are likely entitled under an action for injury or death of a ORDER - 2 1 minor child pursuant to RCW 4.24.010 or Plaintiff A.D.’s claim for negligent infliction 2 of emotional distress. Nonetheless, if Plaintiffs do not seek to pursue these claims in their 3 motion for default judgment, the Court will not burden them with the potentially 4 prohibitive costs associated with proving such claims’ resulting damages. 5 Plaintiffs’ motion for default judgment (Dkt. 59) is GRANTED pursuant to Rule 6 55(b)(2). The Clerk shall enter a JUDGMENT against Defendant Adonis Brown and in 7 favor of Plaintiffs in the amount of $1,130,000 and close the case. 8 Dated this 5th day of June, 2018. A 9 10 BENJAMIN H. SETTLE United States District Judge 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 ORDER - 3

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