United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT
L. ROBART United States District Judge.
the court is Plaintiff John Beck's motion for the entry
of default judgment against Defendant Jeffrey Pike. (Mot.
(Dkt. # 8).) The court has reviewed the motion, all
submissions filed in support of the motion, the relevant
portions of the record, and the applicable law. Being fully
advised, the court DENIES the motion without prejudice to
filing a renewed the motion for default judgment as described
more fully herein.
January 4, 2016, Mr. Beck filed a complaint against Mr. Pike
and Defendant F/V Fishalot for lost wages. (Compl. (Dkt. #
1).) Mr. Beck alleges that, on June 10, 2015, Mr. Pike left
Mr. Beck a voicemail promising Mr. Beck “a job as
deckhand aboard the F/V Fishalot for the 2015 Bristol Bay
(Alaska) salmon gillnet season at a crewshare of 10%.”
(Id. ¶ 6.) Mr. Beck also alleges that Mr. Pike
asked Mr. Beck “not to accept any other jobs so he
could be sure to work aboard the F/V Fishalot.”
(Id.) Mr. Beck alleges that he passed up other jobs
in the Bristol Bay salmon fishery in reliance on Mr.
Pike's promise of employment aboard the F/V Fishalot.
(Id. ¶ 7.) Mr. Beck asserts that Mr. Pike
“reneged on his promise to employ [Mr. Beck] aboard the
Fishalot.” (Id. ¶ 8.) Finally, Mr. Beck
alleges that he lost approximately $15, 000.00 as a result of
Mr. Pike's broken promise. (Id. ¶ 9.) Mr.
Beck alleges that he is entitled to recover these
“unearned wages for breach of contract.”
(Id. ¶ 10.)
April 20, 2016, Mr. Beck filed a declaration of personal
service upon Mr. Pike. (Decl. of Serv. (Dkt. # 5).) Mr. Pike
has not appeared in this action. (See generally
Dkt.) On May 20, 2016, Mr. Beck filed a motion for the entry
of default against Mr. Pike “in personam.” (Mot.
for Def (Dkt. # 6) at 1.) On May 23, 2016, the court granted
Mr. Beck's motion and entered default against “the
in personam defendant Jeffrey Pike.” (Order of Def.
(Dkt. # 7) at 1.)
January 13, 2016, Mr. Beck filed a notice asking the court
not to arrest the F/V Fishalot at this time. (Notice (Dkt. #
3).) Mr. Beck has not served F/V Fishalot, and F/V Fishalot
has never appeared in this action. (See generally
September 15, 2016, Mr. Beck filed a motion for default
judgment against Mr. Pike. (See Mot.) The court now
considers that motion.
Standard for a Default Judgment
defendant fails to respond to a complaint, the court presumes
that all well-pleaded factual allegations supporting
liability are true. See DIRECTV, Inc. v. Hoa Huynh,
503 F.3d 847, 854 (9th Cir. 2007); Televideo Sys., Inc.
v. Heidenthal, 826 F.2d 915, 917-18 (9th Cir. 1987);
Geddes v. United Fin. Grp., 559 F.2d 557, 560 (9th
Cir. 1977). “However, a defendant is not held to admit
facts that are not well-pleaded or to admit conclusions of
law.” DIRECTV, 503 F.3d at 854 (quoting
Nishimatsu Constr. Co. v. Houston Nat'l Bank,
515 F.2d 1200, 1206 (5th Cir. 1975) (quotation marks
omitted)). Further, a court may “examine a
plaintiff's complaint to determine whether it alleges a
cause of action.” Quirindongo Pacheco v. Rolon
Morales, 953 F.2d 15, 16 (1st Cir. 1992). Finally, the
court does not presume that any factual allegations regarding
the amount of damages that the plaintiff allegedly suffered
are true. Id. at 560; Televideo Sys., 826
F.2d at 917-18. Indeed, the court must ensure that the amount
of damages the plaintiff claims is reasonable and supported
by the evidence. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b); Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(b)(6);
Geddes, 559 F.2d at 560; Televideo Sys.,
826 F.2d at 917-18.
whether to grant or deny a motion for default judgment is
within the discretion of the court. See Aldabe v.
Aldabe, 616 F.2d 1089, 1092 (9th Cir. 1980); Draper
v. Coombs, 792 F.2d 915, 924-25 (9th Cir. 1986)
(recognizing that the defendant's default does not
automatically entitle the plaintiff to a court-ordered
judgment). In exercising this discretion, the court considers
several factors: (1) the possibility of prejudice to the
plaintiff is relief is denied; (2) the substantive merits of
plaintiff's claims; (3) the sufficiency of the claims
raised in the complaint; (4) the sum of money at stake; (5)
the possibility of a dispute concerning material facts; (6)
whether the default was due to excusable neglect; and (7) the
strong policy favoring decisions on the merits when
reasonably possible. See Eitel v. McCool, 782 F.2d
1470, 1471-72 (9th Cir. 1986).
The Eitel Factors
instance, the Eitel factors weigh against granting
Mr. Beck's motion for default judgment. Only one
Eitel factor-the sixth-weighs in favor of the entry
of default judgment; and two Eitel factors-the first
and the fourth-are neutral. On the other hand, four of the
Eitel factors-the second, third, fifth, and
seventh-weigh against the entry of default judgment. On