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Miranda v. Praxis Financial Solutions, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Colorado

October 31, 2014

JECENIA MIRANDA, Plaintiff,
v.
PRAXIS FINANCIAL SOLUTIONS, INCORPORATED, an Illinois corporation, Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT

WILLIAM J. MARTÍNEZ, District Judge.

Plaintiff Jecenia Miranda ("Plaintiff") brings this action against Praxis Financial Solutions, Incorporated ("Defendant"), alleging violations under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act ("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692 et seq. (ECF No. 1.) Before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion of Default Judgment (the "Motion"). (ECF No. 11.) For the following reasons, the Motion is granted.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff initiated this action by filing a Complaint on April 11, 2013. (ECF No. 1.) The Complaint alleges that "[s]ometime before 2012 the Plaintiff incurred a financial obligation that was primarily for personal, family or household purposes namely an amount due an owing on [a] personal account owed to Advance America Cash Advance" (the "Account"). ( Id. ¶ 18.) The Account went into default and was transferred to Defendant for collection. ( Id. ¶¶ 20-21.) In the year prior to filing the instant action, Plaintiff and Defendant had telephone conversations discussing Plaintiff's dispute of the Account. ( Id. ¶ 26.) During these telephone conversations, Defendant told Plaintiff that: (1) the Account would remain on Plaintiff's credit report indefinitely unless and until paid; (2) Plaintiff's dispute of the Account had to be valid; and (3) Plaintiff's dispute of the Account was not valid. ( Id. ¶¶ 30, 32.)

Plaintiff brings claims against Defendant for making material misrepresentations in violation of the FDCPA. ( Id. ¶¶ 55-57.) Plaintiff seeks the following damages: (1) $1, 000.00 in statutory damages under the FDCPA; (2) $2, 700 in attorney's fees; and (3) $420.00 in costs. (ECF No. 11 at 9-10.)

Defendant was served with a Summons and a copy of the Complaint on April 12, 2013. (ECF No. 6.) After Defendant failed to answer or otherwise defend against this action, upon Plaintiff's motion, the Clerk of the Court entered default against Defendant. (ECF No. 8.) Plaintiff filed the instant Motion on April 4, 2014. (ECF No. 11.)

The Court has reviewed the Motion, the attached exhibit and affidavit, and the applicable law, and is sufficiently advised on the issues involved.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Default must enter against a party who fails to appear or otherwise defend a lawsuit. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). Pursuant to Rule 55(b)(1), default judgment must be entered by the clerk of court if the claim is for "a sum certain"; in all other cases, "the party must apply to the court for a default judgment." Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2). "[D]efault judgment must normally be viewed as available only when the adversary process has been halted because of an essentially unresponsive party. In that instance, the diligent party must be protected lest he be faced with interminable delay and continued uncertainty as to his rights. The default judgment remedy serves as such a protection." In re Rains, 946 F.2d 731, 732-33 (10th Cir. 1991) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

Further, "a party is not entitled to a default judgment as of right; rather the entry of a default judgment is entrusted to the sound judicial discretion' of the court." Greenwich Ins. Co. v. Daniel Law Firm, 2008 WL 793606, at *2 (D. Colo. Mar. 22, 2008) (internal citation omitted). Before granting a motion for default judgment, the Court must take several steps. First, the Court must ensure that it has personal jurisdiction over the defaulting defendants and subject matter jurisdiction over the action. See Williams v. Life Sav. & Loan, 802 F.2d 1200, 1202-03 (10th Cir. 1986). Next, the Court should consider whether the well-pleaded allegations of fact, which are deemed admitted by a defendant in default, support a judgment on the claims against the defaulting defendants. See Federal Fruit & Produce Co. v. Red Tomato, Inc., 2009 WL 765872, at *3 (D. Colo. March 20, 2009) ("Even after entry of default, however, it remains for the court to consider whether the unchallenged facts constitute a legitimate basis for the entry of a judgment.") (citations omitted). "In determining whether a claim for relief has been established, the well-pleaded facts of the complaint are deemed true." Id. (citing Dundee Cement Co. v. Howard Pipe & Concrete Prods., 722 F.2d 1319, 1323 (7th Cir. 1983)).

Once the Court is satisfied that default judgment should be entered, it has the discretion to hold a hearing to determine the amount of damages. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2). Generally, a damages hearing is not needed when the damages requested are for a sum certain. See United States v. Craighead, 176 F.App'x 922, 925 (10th Cir. 2006).

III. ANALYSIS

A. Jurisdiction

The Court finds that jurisdiction exists in this case pursuant to the FDCPA, which states that a plaintiff may pursue a civil cause of action "in any appropriate United States district court without regard to the amount in controversy[.]" 15 U.S.C. § 1692k(d). Plaintiff alleges that Defendant called him in Colorado, and that these calls form the basis for this action. (ECF ...


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