United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. BOYLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court are two motions filed by Plaintiff Benjamin Moore
and Co.: (1) its Motion for Entry of Default Judgment (Doc.
20), pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55, filed on
July 24, 2019, against Defendant Delwyn Howell Menendez; and
(2) its Motion to Disburse Interplead Funds (Doc. 22), filed
on July 26, 2019. For the reasons discussed below, the Court
GRANTS both motions.
August 29, 2018, Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. filed its Original
Petition for Interpleader, identifying Menendez and Benjamin
Moore as claimants to funds in a Wells Fargo checking
account. Doc. 1, Orig. Pet. for Interpl., ¶¶ 1-2.
Wells Fargo sought to deposit the funds into the Court
Registry, so that Menendez and Benjamin Moore could litigate
their respective claims. Id. ¶ 18.
November 20, 2018, Benjamin Moore answered. Doc. 5,
B.M.'s Answer. After Wells Fargo was unable to locate
Menendez for service, the Court granted Wells Fargo's
request for service by publication. Doc. 9, Elec. Order.
Publication was made during four consecutive weeks in
February 2019. Doc. 13, Notice. On May 3, 2019, the Clerk
entered Menendez's default. Doc. 15, Entry of Default. To
date, Menendez has not entered an appearance in this case nor
filed any responsive pleadings to the Original Petition for
21, 2019, Wells Fargo was dismissed as a party and ordered to
deposit the interplead funds into the Court Registry. Doc.
17, Order. On July 12, 2019, Benjamin Moore and Menendez were
realigned as Plaintiff and Defendant, respectively, and
Benjamin Moore was ordered to move for default judgment
against Menendez no later than July 26, 2019. Doc. 19, Order.
Moore now moves for default judgment and disbursement of the
only one of the claimants named in an interpleader action has
answered, the court need not consider the merits of which
party is entitled to the funds. USAA Fed. Sav. Bank v.
Lavean, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 134301, at *4 (W.D. Tex.
Oct. 1, 2015) (citing Nationwide Mut. Fire Ins. Co. v.
Eason, 736 F.2d 130, 133 n.4 (4th Cir. 1984)
(“Clearly, if all but one named interpleader defendant
defaulted, the remaining defendant would be entitled to the
fund.”); N.Y. Life Ins. Co. v. Conn. Dev.
Auth., 700 F.2d 91, 95 & n.6 (2d Cir. 1983) (default
of two of three interpleader defendants obviated need for
judicial determination of answering defendant's
entitlement to funds)). Accordingly, if default judgment
against Menendez is warranted, then disbursement of the
interplead funds to Benjamin Moore is proper.
a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is
sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend, . . . the
clerk must enter the party's default.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
55(a). Once default has been entered, the court may enter a
default judgment against the defaulting defendant upon motion
of the plaintiff. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b).
the entry of default judgment is committed to the district
court's discretion. Mason v. Lister, 562 F.2d
343, 345 (5th Cir. 1977). Among the factors a district court
may consider when deciding whether to grant a default
judgment are whether: (1) material issues of fact exist; (2)
there has been substantial prejudice; (3) the grounds for
default are clearly established; (4) the default was caused
by a good faith mistake or excusable neglect; (5) the
harshness of a default judgment; and (6) the court ...