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Western Healthcare, LLC v. Brooklyn Urgent Care, PLLC

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

July 9, 2019

Western Healthcare, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
Brooklyn Urgent Care, PLLC, et al., Defendants.

          FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          RENEE HARRIS TOLIVER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment Against Defendants Brooklyn Urgent Care, PLLC, Brooklyn UC Administrative Services, LLC, Dr. Ashraf Salem and Yasser Salem, Doc. 11, was referred to the undersigned United States magistrate judge for findings and a recommended disposition. Doc. 13. On July 9, 2019, an evidentiary hearing was held on issues of damages and attorneys' fees. Doc. 15; Doc. 17. Upon consideration of the evidence, pleadings, and applicable law, Plaintiff's motion for default judgment should be GRANTED as to Defendants Yasser Salem and Brooklyn Urgent Care, PLLC (collectively “Defendants”), and judgment reserved as to the remaining Defendants.[1]

         I. Background

         This action arises out of an agreement between Plaintiff and Defendant Brooklyn Urgent Care, under which Plaintiff contends it provided services for which Brooklyn Urgent Care failed to pay. Doc. 1 at 4-5. Plaintiff filed its Complaint on October 10, 2018, asserting claims against Brooklyn Urgent Care, Brooklyn UC Administrative Services, Ashraf Salem, and Yasser Salem (collectively “all Defendants”) for breach of contract, sworn suit on account and quantum meruit, and also seeking attorneys' fees and costs as well as pre- and post-judgment interest. Doc. 1 at 1-3, 6-8. All Defendants were served on October 15, 2018 or October 16, 2018, but neither Defendant answered or entered an appearance in this case. Doc. 5; Doc. 6; Doc. 7; Doc. 8. The Clerk of Court entered a default as to all Defendants on February 21, 2019. Doc. 12.

         II. Applicable Law

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55 governs the entry of a default judgment. Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b)(2). A default judgment is available as long as the plaintiff establishes:

(1) defendant has been served with the summons and complaint and default was entered for its failure to appear; (2) defendant is neither a minor nor an incompetent person; (3) defendant is not in military service or not otherwise subject to the Soldiers and Sailors Relief Act of 1940; and (4) if defendant has appeared in the action, that defendant was provided with notice of the application for default judgment at least three days prior to the hearing.

Arch Ins. Co. v. WM Masters & Assocs., Inc., No. 3:12-CV-2092-M, 2013 WL 145502, at *2 (N.D. Tex. Jan. 14, 2013) (Lynn, J.).

         In ruling on a motion for default judgment, the Court considers: (1) whether material issues of fact are at issue, (2) whether there has been substantial prejudice, (3) whether grounds for default are clearly established, (4) whether default was caused by a good faith mistake or excusable neglect, (5) harshness of default judgment, and (6) whether the Court would feel obligated to set aside a default on the defendants' motion. Lindsey v. Prive Corp., 161 F.3d 886, 893 (5th Cir. 1998).

         III. Analysis

         A. Plaintiff is entitled to default judgment.

         Plaintiff has satisfied the requisites for entry of a default judgment because: (1) all Defendants were served, none appeared, and a default was entered for their failure to appear, Doc. 12; (2) Brooklyn Urgent Care, PLLC, as an entity, is “neither a minor nor an incompetent person, nor can it be active in military service, ” Arch Ins. Co., 2013 WL 145502, at *3, and (3) Yasser Salem is neither a minor nor incompetent, nor is Yasser Salem enrolled in active military service, Doc. 11 at 3, Doc. 11-6 at 3.[2]

         Moreover, the relevant factors favor the entry of a default judgment. First, Defendants have “not filed any responsive pleadings or otherwise appeared in this case, and thus ha[ve] not contested any facts presented in Plaintiff's Complaint.” Arch Ins. Co., 2013 WL 145502, at *3. Second, Defendants' “failure to respond to Plaintiff's Complaint threatens to bring the adversary process to a halt, effectively prejudicing Plaintiff's interests in pursuing its rights afforded by law.” Id.Third, “the grounds for default are ‘clearly established,' as Defendants have not responded to the summons and complaint” for more than eight months. Holladay v. OTA Training, LLC, No. 3:14-CV-0519-B, 2015 WL 5916440, at *2 (N.D. Tex. Oct. 8, 2015) (Boyle, J.). Fourth, “there is no evidence before the Court ‘that a good faith mistake or excusable neglect' caused the default.” Arch Ins. Co., 2013 WL 145502, at *3. Fifth, Defendants have “had over six months to answer or otherwise respond to Plaintiff's Complaint, mitigating the harshness of default judgment.” Id. Finally, “based on the facts known to the Court, there is no ‘good cause' for which it would be obligated to set aside the default if later challenged by [Defendants.]” Id.

         That notwithstanding, “[t]here must be a sufficient basis in the pleadings for the [default] judgment [to be] entered.” Arch Ins. Co., 2013 WL 145502, at *3. The Court finds that Plaintiff's pleadings are sufficient. Under Texas law, the elements of a breach of contract claim are: (1) the existence of a valid contract; (2) performance or tendered performance by the plaintiff; (3) breach by the defendants; and (4) damages sustained as a result. Innova Hosp. San Antonio, L.P. v. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, Inc.,892 F.3d 719, 731 (5th Cir. 2018). The elements for a suit on sworn account under Texas law are that: (1) there was a sale and delivery of merchandise or performance of services; (2) the amount of the account is just, i.e., the prices were charged in accordance with an agreement, or in the absence of an agreement, they are usual, ...


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