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Spencer v. Aranda

United States District Court, D. Colorado

November 30, 2017

TABITHA SPENCER, Plaintiff,
v.
JUAN RAMON ARANDA, Defendant.

          ORDER ON DAMAGES

          CHRISTINE M. ARGUELLO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Tabitha Spencer's Motion for Default Judgment against Defendant Juan Ramon Aranda. (Doc. # 34.) For the following reasons, the Court grants the motion and awards Plaintiff $10, 558.94 in damages.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The events giving rise to this lawsuit occurred on March 9, 2015 when Plaintiff visited Salud Family Health Centers clinic for medical treatment. (Doc. # 4 at 2.) In an examination room, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant, a medical assistant at the clinic, made a number of sexual comments and advances toward her, including pushing himself onto her, kissing her, grabbing “the right side of her buttocks, ” and rubbing her bare back. (Id. at 4.) Plaintiff adds that when she returned home from the clinic, she received several text messages from Defendant, who she claims retrieved her phone number from her medical files. (Id. at 3-4.)

         Based on these events, Plaintiff contacted law enforcement who contacted Defendant on March 12, 2016. (Id.) Defendant admitted to making the sexual advances and sending the text messages but stated that he thought Plaintiff wanted him to do so. (Id.) Defendant was arrested and charged with unlawful sexual conduct and harassment. (Id.) He pled guilty to both charges. (Id.)

         On March 9, 2016, Plaintiff initiated this suit against Defendant, bringing claims for assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, and negligence per se. (Doc. # 1.) On March 3, 2017, based on Defendant's failure to defend or otherwise appear in this lawsuit, Plaintiff filed the instant motion seeking a default judgment against him. (Doc. # 34.)

         On August 24, 2017, the Court held an evidentiary hearing on this motion, following which the Court found that, because Defendant failed to defend or otherwise appear in this lawsuit, default judgment was proper under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55. The Court also found that there was a legitimate basis for relief, as presented in the Complaint and at the hearing, on Plaintiff's claims for assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligence.

         The only remaining issue before the Court was the amount of damages awardable on those claims, which the Court took under advisement. The Court also permitted Plaintiff to file supplemental briefing on damages-briefing that would incorporate evidence from the hearing, supporting documentation from Plaintiff's medical providers, and applicable legal authority.

         On October 5, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Brief For Damages wherein she requests that this Court award her a total $210, 558.94. (Doc. # 51.) That total represents $558.94 for Medicare reimbursements; $150, 000.00 for past pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life; and $60, 000.00 for future pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life. The Court addresses each request in turn.

         II. DAMAGES

         A. LAW

         Default judgment cannot be fully entered against a defaulting defendant until the amount of damages has been ascertained. See Herzfeld v. Parker, 100 F.R.D. 770, 773 (D. Colo. 1984). When a default judgment is entered on a claim for an indefinite or uncertain amount of damages, facts relating to the amount of damages must be proven in a supplemental hearing or proceeding.” United States v. Craighead, 176 Fed.Appx. 922, 925 (10th Cir. 2006) (unpublished) (quoting Am. Red Cross v. Cmty. Blood Ctr. of the Ozarks, 257 F.3d 859, 864 (8th Cir. 2001)); Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b). One of the main reasons for this requirement is to prevent plaintiffs who obtain default judgments from receiving more in damages than is supported by actual proof. Id. at n.2.

         A party seeking damages must set forth proof of damages to provide the Court a record sufficient to decide the matters before it. This includes the submission of affidavits, testimony by witness, and other proper documentary evidence in support of the claimed damage amounts. Venable v. Haislip, 721 F.2d 297, 300 (10th Cir. 1983); Ullico Cas. Co. v. Abba Shipping Lines, Inc., 891 F.Supp.2d 4, 7 (D.D.C. 2012). The Court is vested with broad discretion in awarding damages. Dolenz v. United States, 443 F.3d 1320, 1321 (10th Cir. 2006).

         B. MEDICARE ...


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