United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
HARRIS TOLIVER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
case has been referred to the undersigned United States
magistrate judge for pretrial management. Doc. 80. Before the
Court is Plaintiff's second Motion for Default
Judgment.Doc. 85. For the reasons that
follow, the motion should be GRANTED.
BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
November 2016, Plaintiff sued Defendant Juan Pablo Zavala
Diaz (“Diaz”) (and others who have been dismissed
as defendants in this suit) in state court for damages he
suffered during a car accident in January 2015. Doc. 1-5 at
1-3. The case was removed to this Court in July 2017.
Doc. 1 at 1.
conditions upon which default may be entered against a party,
as well as the procedure to seek the entry of default
judgment, are found in Rule 55 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. The entry of default judgment is the culmination
of three events: (1) default, which occurs when a defendant
has failed to plead or otherwise respond to the complaint
within the time required by Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure; (2) entry of default by the clerk of court
when such default is established by affidavit or otherwise;
and (3) application by plaintiff to the clerk for a default
judgment after the entry of default. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a);
New York Life Ins. Co. v. Brown, 84 F.3d 137, 141
(5th Cir. 1996).
alone, however, a defendant's default does not entitle a
plaintiff to a default judgment. Lewis v. Lynn, 236 F.3d 766,
767 (5th Cir. 2001) (per curiam); Nishimatsu Constr. Co.
v. Hous. Nat'l Bank, 515 F.2d 1200, 1206 (5th Cir.
1975). The decision to grant a default judgment is one
soundly within the district court's discretion. Lewis,
236 F.3d at 767. “[D]efault judgments are a drastic
remedy, not favored by the Federal Rules and resorted to by
courts only in extreme situations.” Id.
(quoting Sun Bank of Ocala v. Pelican Homestead &
Sav. Ass'n, 874 F.2d 274, 276 (5th Cir. 1989)).
Moreover, there must be a sufficient basis in the pleadings
for a court to enter judgment by default. Nishimatsu, 515
F.2d at 1206. In defaulting, the defendants are deemed to
have admitted the well-pleaded allegations of the
plaintiff's complaint and are precluded from contesting
the established facts. Id. (citations omitted).
ARGUMENTS AND ANALYSIS
contends that the facts alleged in the complaint support a
negligence claim against Diaz. Doc. 85 at 4. Plaintiff also
requests entry of a $2, 000, 000.00 damages award based on
Plaintiff's physical and psychological injuries, medical
costs, past lost wages, and past pain, suffering, and mental
anguish. Doc. 85 at 6-11.
review, the well-pled allegations of Plaintiff's
complaint establish that Plaintiff was injured due to
Diaz's negligence as: (1) Diaz owed Plaintiff a duty of
care to operate his vehicle safely; (2) Diaz breached that
duty by failing to yield the right of way and smashing into
Plaintiff's vehicle; and (3) Diaz's breach
proximately caused Plaintiff's injuries. Doc. 85 at 4-5;
see Nabors Drilling, U.S.A., Inc. v. Escoto, 288
S.W.3d 401, 404 (Tex. 2009) (holding that negligence actions
in Texas require allegations of “a legal duty owed by
one person to another, a breach of that duty, and damages
proximately caused by the breach”). Accordingly,
Plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations support the
negligence claim against Diaz.
the Court determines the issue of damages. In the context of
a default judgment, damages may be determined without a
hearing if “the amount claimed is a liquidated sum or
one capable of mathematical calculation.” United
Artists Corp. v. Freeman, 605 F.2d 854, 857 (5th Cir.
1979) (citations omitted). That is, a hearing is not
necessary where the amount of damages can be determined with
certainty, by reference to the pleadings and supporting
documents, and a hearing would not be beneficial or
necessary. James v. Frame, 6 F.3d 307, 310 (5th Cir.
1993). While unliquidated damages are normally not awarded
without an evidentiary hearing, Rule 55(b) “does not
mandate an evidentiary hearing but, rather, gives the judge
wide latitude in determining whether such a hearing will be
beneficial.” Id. at 310-11.
case, Plaintiff's liquidated and unliquidated damages are
capable of mathematical calculation based on Plaintiff's
supporting documents. Thus, the Court concludes that no
evidentiary hearing is necessary. Plaintiff has provided
affidavits, medical records, and expert opinion, Doc. 85 at
2-3, 10, to support a $65, 924.60 award for past reasonable
and necessary medical charges, a $264, 747.39 award for
present value of future reasonable and necessary medical
charges, a $66, 000.000 award for past lost wages, and a $1,
603, 328.10 award for pain, suffering, and mental
anguish-totaling $2, 000, 000 in damages. Doc. 85 at 11. See
Leedo Cabinetry v. James Sales & Distribution,
Inc.,157 F.3d 410, 414 (5th Cir. 1998) (finding no
abuse of discretion in the district court's decision to
award unliquidated damages without an evidentiary hearing
when plaintiff submitted affidavits and supporting documents;
the damage award was therefore capable of mathematical
calculation); see also Copeland v. EMC Mortg. LLC,
No. 1:16CV159-HSO-JCG, 2017 WL 11318925, at *1 (S.D.Miss.
Nov. 17, 2017) (a hearing on unliquidated damages-emotional
distress, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and physical
pain-is not required when supported by affidavits, expert
reports, and other evidence). ...