United States District Court, S.D. Florida
ORDER ON MOTION FOR FINAL DEFAULT JUDGMENT
BLOOM UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
CAUSE is before the Court upon Plaintiff King Ocean
Services Ltd.'s (“Plaintiff”) Motion for
Final Default Judgment, ECF No.  (“Motion”),
filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b)(2)
against Defendant Tru Green Plastics LLC
(“Defendant”). A clerk's default was entered
against Defendant on December 4, 2019, ECF No. , because
Defendant failed to answer or otherwise plead to the
complaint, despite having been properly served. See
ECF No. . The Court has carefully considered the Motion,
the record in this case and the applicable law, and is
otherwise fully advised. For the following reasons,
Plaintiff's Motion is granted.
initiated this action on September 27, 2019, asserting a
claim in admiralty for breach of a maritime contract. ECF No.
 (“Complaint”). According to the Complaint,
Plaintiff is a Vessel Operating Common Carrier (VOCC), or
shipping line, that engages in international ocean cargo
transportation. Id. ¶ 3. Defendant is a Florida
Limited Liability Company that performs plastics recycling.
Id. ¶ 4. Between August 2016 and November 2016,
at the request and direction of Defendant, Plaintiff
transported goods aboard ocean vessels from international
ports of origin to the mainland United States and delivered
said goods to the named consignee. Id. ¶ 5.
Plaintiff has performed all of its contractual obligations
and duties, as well as all conditions precedent to bring this
action. Id. ¶ 12.
repeated demands for remittance of the funds due, Defendant
has failed and refused to pay $27, 985.00 in ocean freight
and related charges owed to Plaintiff. Id. ¶
9.; ECF Nos. [11-1], [11-2], [11-3]. In accordance with
Paragraph 15 of the bill of lading contract, Defendant is
responsible for payment of the freight charges assessed by
Plaintiff pursuant to the contract. ECF No. [11-3] ¶ 15.
As a result of Defendant's failure to pay the ocean
freight and related charges, Plaintiff has sustained damages
in the amount of $27, 985.00. ECF No. [11-1] ¶
Motion, Plaintiff seeks the entry of final default judgment
against Defendant on its claim for breach of maritime
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b), the Court is
authorized to enter a final judgment of default against a
party who has failed to plead in response to a complaint.
This Circuit maintains a “strong policy of determining
cases on their merits and we therefore view defaults with
disfavor.” In re Worldwide Web Sys., Inc., 328
F.3d 1291, 1295 (11th Cir. 2003). Nonetheless, default
judgment is entirely appropriate and within the district
court's sound discretion to render where the defendant
has failed to defend or otherwise engage in the proceedings.
See, e.g., Tara Prods., Inc. v.
Hollywood Gadgets, Inc., 449 Fed.Appx. 908, 910 (11th
Cir. 2011); Dawkins v. Glover, 308 Fed.Appx. 394,
395 (11th Cir. 2009); In re Knight, 833 F.2d 1515,
1516 (11th Cir. 1987); Wahl v. McIver, 773 F.2d
1169, 1174 (11th Cir. 1985); Pepsico, Inc. v.
Distribuidora La Matagalpa, Inc., 510 F.Supp.2d 1110,
1113 (S.D. Fla. 2007); see also Owens v. Benton, 190
Fed.Appx. 762 (11th Cir. 2006) (default judgment within
district court's direction).
defendant's “failure to appear and the Clerk's
subsequent entry of default against him do[es] not
automatically entitle Plaintiff to a default judgment.”
Capitol Records v. Carmichael, 508 F.Supp.2d 1079,
1083 (S.D. Ala. 2007). Indeed, a default is not “an
absolute confession by the defendant of his liability and of
the plaintiff's right to recover, ” Pitts ex
rel. Pitts v. Seneca Sports, Inc., 321 F.Supp.2d 1353,
1357 (S.D. Ga. 2004), but instead acts as an admission by the
defaulted defendant as to the well-pleaded allegations of
fact in the complaint. See Eagle Hosp. Physicians, LLC v.
SRG Consulting, Inc., 561 F.3d 1298, 1307 (11th Cir.
2009) (“A defendant, by his default, admits the
plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations of fact, is
concluded on those facts by the judgment, and is barred from
contesting on appeal the facts thus established.”)
(citations omitted); Descent v. Kolitsidas, 396
F.Supp.2d 1315, 1316 (M.D. Fla. 2005) (“the
defendants' default notwithstanding, the plaintiff is
entitled to a default judgment only if the complaint states a
claim for relief”); GMAC Commercial Mortg. Corp. v.
Maitland Hotel Assocs., Ltd., 218 F.Supp.2d 1355, 1359
(M.D. Fla. 2002) (default judgment is appropriate only if
court finds sufficient basis in pleadings for judgment to be
entered, and that complaint states a claim). Stated
differently, “a default judgment cannot stand on a
complaint that fails to state a claim.” Chudasama
v. Mazda Motor Corp., 123 F.3d 1353, 1370 n.41 (11th
Cir. 1997). Therefore, before granting default judgment,
“the district court must ensure that the well-pleaded
allegations of the complaint . . . actually state a cause of
action and that there is a substantive, sufficient basis in
the pleadings for the particular relief sought.”
Tyco Fire & Sec., LLC v. Alcocer, 218 Fed.Appx.
860, 863 (11th Cir. 2007).
review of Plaintiff's submissions, the Court finds a
sufficient basis in the Complaint to enter default judgment
in Plaintiff's favor. Because Defendant has not appeared,
“all of Plaintiff's well-pled allegations in the
Complaint are deemed admitted.” Ordonez v. Icon Sky
Holdings LLC, No. 10-60156-CIV, 2011 WL 3843890, at *5
(S.D. Fla. Aug. 30, 2011) (citing Buchanan v.
Bowman, 820 F.2d 359, 361 (11th Cir. 1987)). Having
reviewed the Complaint, the Court finds Plaintiff's
allegations well-pled, and sufficient to establish
Defendant's liability. By default, Defendant has admitted
the truth of the allegations, and accordingly, the Court
finds that Plaintiff has established its claims against
the admitted facts in the Complaint establish liability, then
the Court must determine appropriate damages.”
Ordonez, 2011 WL 3843890, at *5. “Where all
the essential evidence is on record, an evidentiary hearing
on damages is not required.” Id. (citing
SEC v. Smyth, 420 F.3d 1225, 1232 n.13 (11th Cir.
2005) (“Rule 55(b)(2) speaks of evidentiary hearings in
a permissive tone . . . We have held that no such hearing is
required where all essential evidence is already of
record.” (citations omitted)). Plaintiff seeks damages
in the amount of $27, 985.00, and in support of the claim,
submits an affidavit from Jorge Gomez, the Credit &
Collections Manager for Plaintiff King Ocean Services, Ltd.,
the freight collect ocean bills of lading, the bill of lading
terms and conditions, and copies of invoices. ECF No. [11-1].
Accordingly, under the facts of this case and in light of the
evidence contained in the record, the Court finds that a
hearing on damages is unnecessary and the requested amount of
damages is justified.
addition to damages, Plaintiff also requests reimbursement of
$490.00 in costs, including the service of process fee
($90.00) and filing fee ($400.00). Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 54(d)(1) provides that “[u]nless a federal
statute, these rules, or a court order provides otherwise,
costs-other than attorney's fees-should be allowed to the
prevailing party.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(1). A prevailing
party is “[a] party in whose favor a judgment is
rendered, regardless of the amount of damages awarded.”
Buckhannon Bd. & Care Home, Inc. v. W.Va. Dep't
of Health & Human Res., 532 U.S. 598, 603 (2001);
see Util. Automation 2000, Inc. v. Choctawhatchee Elec.
Coop., 298 F.3d 1238, 1248 (11th Cir. 2002). A
prevailing party is “entitled to receive all costs that
are recoverable under 28 U.S.C. § 1920.”
Bryant v. Cab Asset Mgmt., LLC, No. 10-61514-CIV,
2011 WL 1331267, at *3 (S.D. Fla. Apr. 6, 2011), report
and recommendation adopted by, 2011 WL 1598732, at *1
(S.D. Fla. Apr. 27, 2011). “Such costs, ...