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Brito v. 4018 W. Vine Street LLLP

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division

May 30, 2018

CARLOS BRITO, Plaintiff,
v.
4018 W. VINE STREET LLLP and RAMADA WORLDWIDE INC., Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          THOMAS B. SMITH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Pending before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Default Final Judgment against Defendant, 4018 W. Vine Street, LLLP (Doc 19). Upon due consideration, I respectfully recommend that the motion be DENIED and that Plaintiff's complaint be dismissed, with leave to amend.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff brings this Americans with Disabilities Act case for injunctive relief and attorney's fees and costs pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 12181, et seq. (the "ADA") (Doc. 1). Plaintiff sued two entities - Defendant Ramada Worldwide, Inc. (“Ramada”) and 4018 W. Vine Street LLLP (“Vine Street”). Ramada was served and answered the complaint, denying any liability (Doc. 18). Vine Street was served (Doc.14) and has failed to respond. A clerk's default was entered Vine Street on March 15, 2018 (Doc. 17). This motion followed and was referred to me.

         After Ramada answered and the motion for default judgment was filed, Plaintiff attempted to dismiss his claims against Ramada without prejudice, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(a)(1) (Doc. 20). By separate Order, I have stricken that notice because it does not comply with the rule it cites.

         II. Discussion

         Standard of Review

         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). In defaulting, a defendant “admit[s] the plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations of fact” for purposes of liability. Buchanan v. Bowman, 820 F.2d 359, 361 (11th Cir.1987). Nonetheless, a court may enter a default judgment only if the factual allegations of the complaint, which are assumed to be true, provide a sufficient legal basis for entry of a default judgment. Nishimatsu Constr. Co. v. Houston Nat'l Bank, 515 F.2d 1200, 1206 (5th Cir. 1975) ("The defendant is not held to admit facts that are not well-pleaded or to admit conclusions of law. In short, despite occasional statements to the contrary, a default is not treated as an absolute confession by the defendant of his liability and of the plaintiff's right to recover").

         The United States Supreme Court has noted the difference between well-pleaded facts and conclusory allegations. In Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009), the Supreme Court explained that a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, but it demands more than "an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation. A pleading that offers 'labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.' Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders 'naked assertion[s]' devoid of 'further factual enhancement.'" Id. at 678 (internal citations omitted). "[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not 'show[n]'-'that the plaintiff is entitled to relief.'" Id. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). This analysis is equally applicable to a motion for default judgment. See De Lotta v. Dezenzo's Italian Restaurant, Inc., No. 6:08-cv-2033-Orl-22KRS, 2009 WL 4349806, *5 (M.D. Fla. November 24, 2009).

         “Once liability is established, the court turns to the issue of relief.” Enpat, Inc. v. Budnic, 773 F.Supp.2d 1311, 1313 (M.D. Fla. 2011). “Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(c), ‘[a] default judgment must not differ in kind from, or exceed in amount, what is demanded in the pleadings,' and a court may conduct hearings when it needs to determine the amount of damages, establish the truth of any allegation by evidence, or investigate any other matter.” Enpat, 773 F.Supp.2d at 1313 (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2)). Where all the essential evidence is of record, an evidentiary hearing on damages is not required. SEC v. Smyth, 420 F.3d 1225, 1232 n. 13 (11th Cir. 2005). In other words, in order to enter a default judgment, the Court must find that an adequate showing has been made as to liability and the kind or amount of damages or other relief.

         The Allegations of the Complaint

         Plaintiff is a mobility impaired individual who requires the use of a wheelchair to ambulate (Doc. 1, ¶ 12). Here, he alleges that both Defendants operate the property that is the subject of this lawsuit:

6. At all times material, Defendant, 4018 W. VINE STREET, LLLP, owned and operated a hotel property/place of public accommodation which holds itself out to the public as "Ramada Kissimmee Downtown Hotel" located at located at 4018 W. Vine Street, Kissimmee, Florida 34741 (hereinafter "Hotel Property and Hotel Business").
7. At all times material, Defendant, RAMADA WORLDWIDE INC., was and is a Delaware Corporation, which conducts a significant amount of business at 4018 W. Vine Street, Kissimmee, Florida 34741.
8. At all times material, Defendant, RAMADA WORLDWIDE INC., owned and operated a hotel business which holds itself out to the public as "Ramada Kissimmee Downtown Hotel" located at 4018 W. Vineland Street, Kissimmee, Florida ...

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