United States District Court, S.D. Florida
ORDER ON MOTION FOR ENTRY OF DEFAULT FINAL
BLOOM UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
CAUSE is before the Court upon Plaintiff United
States of America's (“Plaintiff”) Motion for
Entry of Default Final Judgment, ECF No.  (the
“Motion”). A Clerk's Default, ECF No.  was
entered against Defendant Carlos I. Vera
(“Defendant” or “Vera”) on December
18, 2019, as Defendant failed to appear, answer, or otherwise
plead to the Complaint, ECF No. , despite having been
served. ECF No. . The Court has carefully considered the
Motion, the record in this case, the applicable law, and is
otherwise fully advised in the premises. For the reasons that
follow, the Motion is granted.
November 18, 2019, Plaintiff initiated this action, asserting
two claims for failure to pay the balance on student loans.
See ECF No.  (“Complaint”). In the
Complaint, Plaintiff states that Vera is a resident of
Miami-Dade County, Florida, and owes Plaintiff a total of
$14, 575.21, for which a demand has been made. Id.
¶¶ 2-4. Attached to the Complaint are Certificates
of Indebtedness, ECF Nos. [1-3], [1-4]
(“Certificates”), setting forth the amounts
allegedly owed by Vera. As of the date of this Order,
Defendant has not responded to the Complaint or otherwise
appeared in this action.
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.”
yco 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 pleading 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. In order to establish a prima
facie case of student loan default, Plaintiff must prove
three elements: “(1) the defendant signed a promissory
note for a student loan; (2) the government is the present
owner or holder of the promissory note signed by the
defendant; and (3) the promissory note is in default.”
United States v. Foreman, Case No:
6:14-cv-1965-Orl-40DAB, 2016 WL 1402885, at *2 (Mar. 21,
2016) (citing United States v. Carter, 506 Fed.Appx.
853, 858 (11th Cir. 2013)).
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 a total
of $14, 575.21, representing unpaid principal in the amount
of $4, 295.46 and interest of $2, 631.26 for Claim No.
2015A29397, and unpaid principal in the amount of $4, 654.45,
and interest of $2, 994.04 for Claim No. 2015A29775. In
support of the request, Plaintiff submits the Certificates.
ECF Nos. [11-2], [11-3]. Accordingly, under the facts of this
case and in light of the evidence contained in the record,
the Court finds a hearing on damages unnecessary and the
requested amount of damages justified.
addition, Plaintiff seeks reimbursement of $45.00 for its
cost for service of process. 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).
Court finds that these costs are reasonable, and were
necessarily incurred in connection with the prosecution of
this action against Defendant. See EEOC v. W&O,
Inc., 213 F.3d 600, 623 (11th Cir. 2000) (concluding
that private process servers may be taxed pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1920(1) which permits taxation of “[f]ees
of the clerk and marshal”). Plaintiff is therefore
entitled to recover $45.00 in costs.