United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
VIRGINIA M. HERNANDEZ COVINGTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court pursuant to Plaintiff Midland
National Life Insurance Company's Motion for Default
Judgment (Doc. # 18), which was filed on May 10, 2018. For
the reasons that follow, the Court grants the Motion.
Rule of Civil Procedure 55(a) sets forth the following
regarding an entry of default:
(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.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(a). A district court may enter a default
judgment against a properly served defendant who fails to
defend or otherwise appear pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 55(b)(2). DirecTV, Inc. v. Griffin, 290
F.Supp.2d 1340, 1343 (M.D. Fla. 2003).
mere entry of a default by the Clerk does not, in itself,
warrant the Court entering a default judgment. See Tyco
Fire & Sec. LLC v. Alcocer, 218 Fed.Appx. 860, 863
(11th Cir. 2007)(citing Nishimatsu Constr. Co. v. Houston
Nat'l Bank, 515 F.2d 1200, 1206 (5th Cir. 1975)).
Rather, a court must ensure that there is a sufficient basis
in the pleadings for the judgment to be entered. Id.
A default judgment has the effect of establishing as fact the
plaintiff's well-pled allegations of fact and bars the
defendant from contesting those facts on appeal. Id.
initiated this action against Defendant Karen L. Burgess on
March 8, 2018. (Doc. # 1). Therein, Midland seeks rescission
of a life insurance policy of which Ms. Burgess is the
beneficiary, and a declaration that the policy is void ab
initio and that Midland has no obligation or liability other
than the refund of premiums paid since the policy was
reinstated. As alleged in the Complaint, Midland is a citizen
of Iowa, Ms. Burgess is a citizen of Florida, and the amount
in controversy exceeds $75, 000. (Id. at 1).
Therefore, this Court has jurisdiction based on diversity of
served Ms. Burgess on April 12, 2018, making Ms.
Burgess's response to the Complaint due May 3, 2018.
(Doc. # 12). After Ms. Burgess failed to appear or respond to
the Complaint, Midland applied for entry of Clerk's
default. (Doc. # 15). Clerk's default was entered on May
8, 2018. (Doc. # 17). Midland has now moved for entry of
default judgment. (Doc. # 18). Based upon the Clerk's
default and the Complaint's well-pled factual
allegations, Midland has established the following facts.
Burgess was the primary beneficiary of a life insurance
policy, policy **7292, issued to her husband, Mr. Burgess.
(Doc. # 1 at ¶ 5). Due to nonpayment or premiums, the
policy “entered a grace period in or about February of
2017.” (Id. at ¶ 8). The required premium
payment was not made during the grace period, so the policy
lapsed and coverage terminated. (Id. at ¶ 9).
But Midland “subsequently sent [Mr. Burgess] the
paperwork required to seek reinstatement of the
policy.” (Id. at ¶ 10).
Burgess completed the reinstatement application in May of
2017. (Id. at ¶ 11). But Mr. Burgess's
application contained various false statements or
misrepresentations about his health. (Id. at
¶¶ 12-20, 26-27). For example, Mr. Burgess gave
false answers to the following questions, among others:
13. In the past 10 years, has any person proposed for
insurance been diagnosed by a licensed medical professional,
treated or advised to get medical treatment from a licensed
medical professional, hospitalized, or presently taking
prescription(s) for any of the following disease(s) or
a. Angina, chest pain, heart attack, heart failure, heart
surgery, irregular heartbeat, abnormal EKG, coronary artery
bypass, angioplasty, stents, peripheral vascular disease,
poor circulation, valvular ...