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Cedar Rapids Electrical Apprenticeship Training and Educational Trust v. Ehret

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Cedar Rapids Division

March 31, 2018

CEDAR RAPIDS ELECTRICAL APPRENTICESHIP TRAINING AND EDUCATIONAL TRUST, Plaintiff,
v.
CHAD MICHAEL EHRET, Defendant.

          ORDER

          LINDA R. READE, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         I. INTRODUCTION

         The matter before the court is Plaintiff Cedar Rapids Electrical Apprenticeship Training and Educational Trust's Motion for Default Judgment (“Motion”) (docket no. 8), which Plaintiff filed on March 1, 2018.

         II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On January 3, 2018, Plaintiff filed a “Complaint for Enforcement of an Arbitration Award” (“Complaint”) (docket no. 1), requesting that the court enforce an arbitration award under the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. § 9. On January 26, 2018, Defendant Chad Michael Ehret was personally served with a copy of the Complaint. See Proof of Service (docket no. 4). On February 20, 2018, Plaintiff filed an Application for Entry of Default (docket no. 6) in light of Defendant's failure to answer or otherwise respond to the Complaint. On February 21, 2018, the Clerk of Court entered default. See Default Entry (docket no. 7). On March 1, 2018, Plaintiff filed the Motion. Defendant has not filed any responsive pleading.

         III. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Defendant was a participant in Plaintiff's apprenticeship training program, which is an “employee welfare benefit plan” under Section 3(1) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C. § 1002(1). As part of the program, Defendant executed three Scholarship Loan Agreements and Promissory Notes (collectively, the “Agreements”) (docket nos. 1-1 through 1-3), each of which contained an arbitration provision. Defendant subsequently failed to make the required payments as set forth in the Agreements.

         Pursuant to the terms of the Agreements, Plaintiff initiated an arbitration proceeding through the American Arbitration Association. All parties had an opportunity to present evidence during the arbitration proceedings; however, Defendant did not appear personally or through a representative and did not present a defense. On October 16, 2017, Arbitrator Norma Sutton issued an award in favor of Plaintiff, stating:

I find for [Plaintiff] in the total amount of $10, 420.00 (repayment obligation of $7, 250.01 (plus interest [at] 3.25% from February 24, 2011 [through] August 21, 2013), plus costs of $1, 332.00 and attorney fees of $1, 837.99).
The fees and expenses of the American Arbitration Association totaling $750.00 and the compensation and expenses of the Arbitrator totaling $1, 000.00 shall be born by [Defendant] in accordance with the [Arbitration] Agreement. Therefore, [Defendant] shall reimburse [Plaintiff] the additional sum of $1, 750.00.

Arbitration Award (docket no. 1-4) at 2.

         IV. ANALYSIS

         A. Liability

         The Clerk of Court entered a default against Defendant pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(a). “Entry of a default under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(a) is not, as such, entry of a judgment; it merely permits the plaintiff to move for a default judgment under Rule 55(b)(2), assuming that the default is not set aside under Rule 55(c).” Inman v. Am. Home Furniture Placement, Inc., 120 F.3d 117, 118 ...


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