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United States v. Hubbard

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Eastern Division

April 22, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
WILLIAM HUBBARD, JR. and HUBBARD'S FISHING FLOAT & CAFÉ, L.L.C., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ON MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT

          Leonard T. Strand, Chief Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This case is before me on a motion (Doc. No. 10) for default judgment by plaintiff United States of America (the Government). Defendants have filed a resistance (Doc. No. 15) and the Government has filed a reply (Doc. No. 20). I find that oral argument is not necessary. See Local Rule 7(c).

         II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On September 21, 2018, the Government filed its complaint (Doc. No. 1) for ejectment and injunctive relief. Service of the complaint was not easily accomplished due to defendant William Hubbard Jr.'s attempts to evade service - as described in Judge Mahoney's order denying defendants' motion to set aside the entry of default. See Doc. No. 29 at 3-5. On October 29, 2018, the Government moved for the entry of default and the Clerk of Court entered default the same day. See Doc. Nos. 6, 7. Defendants' counsel sent a letter to the Government dated November 13, 2018, asking to speak about defendants' case. See Doc. No. 29 at 6. The Government provided defendants' attorney with the relevant court documents. Id.

         On November 27, 2018, defendants filed a motion (Doc. No. 9) to set aside the default entry. On December 11, 2018, the Government filed its motion (Doc. No. 10) for default judgment. On December 17, 2018, defendants filed an answer (Doc. No. 12). Judge Mahoney denied defendants' motion to set aside the default entry on March 29, 2019. See Doc. No. 29. Defendants had the opportunity to appeal Judge Mahoney's ruling to me but did not do so. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(a); see also N.D. Ia. L.R. 72A (providing that a party who objects to a magistrate judge's order on a civil pretrial matter must file objections within 14 days after service of the order). Because default has been entered, and has not been set aside, I consider whether the Government is entitled to the entry of judgment by default.

         III. APPLICABLE STANDARDS

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55 provides, in relevant part:
(a) ENTERING A DEFAULT. When a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend, and that failure is shown by affidavit or otherwise, the clerk must enter the party's default.
(b) ENTERING A DEFAULT JUDGMENT.
(1) By the Clerk. If the plaintiff's claim is for a sum certain or a sum that can be made certain by computation, the clerk-on the plaintiff's request, with an affidavit showing the amount due-must enter judgment for that amount and costs against a defendant who has been defaulted for not appearing and who is neither a minor nor an incompetent person.
(2) By the Court. In all other cases, the party must apply to the court for a default judgment. . . . If the party against whom a default judgment is sought has appeared personally or by a representative, that party or its representative must be served with written notice of the application at least 7 days before the hearing. The court may conduct hearings or make referrals-preserving any federal statutory right to a jury trial-when, to enter or effectuate judgment, it needs to:
(A) conduct an accounting;
(B) determine the amount of damages;
(C) establish the truth of any allegation by evidence; or
(D) investigate any other matter.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(a)-(b). Thus, as this court has ...


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