United States District Court, D. Maine
JOHN A. CHARRON, Plaintiff,
CHRISTOPHER MOSS, et al.
ORDER ON MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT
A. WOODCOCK, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Court rejects Plaintiff's suggestion that his claims for
compensatory and punitive damages are for a sum certain under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55 and orders the Plaintiff
to give notice of the damages hearing to the defaulted
Defendants. The Court orders that an evidentiary damages
hearing be held.
March 8, 2018, John A. Charron filed a lawsuit pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 against Christopher Moss, Eric J.
Pilvelait as well as a number of Defendants associated with
York County Maine, alleging that the Defendants violated his
civil rights. Compl. (ECF No. 1). Mr. Charron
effected service of the Complaint and Summons on Mr. Moss on
May 29, 2018, Summons in a Civil Action (ECF No. 7),
and on Mr. Pilvelait on June 6, 2018. Summons in a Civil
Action (ECF No. 13). Neither Mr. Moss nor Mr. Pilvelait
has answered or otherwise defended the Complaint.
27, 2018, Mr. Charron moved for default against Defendants
Moss and Pilvelait. Pl.'s Appl. to Clerk for Default
against Non-County Defs. Christopher Moss and Eric J.
Pilvelait (ECF No. 18). On July 30, 2018, the Clerk
entered default against each Defendant. Order Granting
Mot. for Entry of Default (ECF No. 20). On July 27,
2018, Mr. Charron moved for entry of default judgment.
Pl.'s Verified Mot. for Default J. against Non-County
Defs. Christopher Moss and Eric J. Pilvelait (ECF No.
19). In his motion, Mr. Charron says that he is seeking $100,
000 in compensatory damages and $150, 000 in punitive damages
against Mr. Moss and Mr. Pilvelait. Id. at 2. He
writes that “[i]f this qualifies as a ‘sum
certain,' then the Clerk should enter a judgement against
them accordingly. Otherwise, the Court should conduct a
hearing on damages.” Id.
Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b)(2) governs the reduction of a
procedural default to a default judgment by the Court. Before
issuing such a judgment, the Court “may conduct”
an evidentiary hearing “when . . . it needs to . . .
determine the amount of damages.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
55(b)(2). In general, the Court may not grant a default
judgment unless the damages are fixed and certain. KPS
& Assocs., Inc. v. Designs By FMC, Inc., 318 F.3d 1,
19-20 (1st Cir. 2003). Where the amount of damages is not
fixed by operation of law, susceptible to mathematical
calculation, or agreed to by the parties, the Court must hold
an evidentiary hearing to determine the amount of damages
before granting a default judgment. Id. at 20-21;
see also CSXT Intermodal, Inc. v. Mercury Cartage,
LLC, 271 F.R.D. 400, 401 (D. Me. Nov. 9, 2010)
(“Unless a claim is for a ‘sum certain,' a
court must consider proof of damages before entering final
Charron's claimed damages are not for a “sum
certain” as the term appears in Rule 55. KPS &
Assocs., 318 F.3d at 19 (“[A] claim is not a sum
certain unless there is no doubt as to the amount to which a
plaintiff is entitled as a result of the defendant's
default.”). Mr. Charron claims damages for injury to
“his personal and professional reputation, ” for
“humiliation, embarrassment, anxiety, severe emotional
distress, ” for “financial loss to his
self-employment business as a tree removal expert, ”
and for punitive damages. Compl. ¶¶ 44-45,
47. These are not damage categories susceptible to
mathematical calculation, liquidated damages, damages fixed
by law, or damages agreed to by both parties. KPS &
Assocs., 318 F.3d at 18-21. Consequently, the Court must
receive testimony and make a factual determination as to the
proper amount of damages in these categories. Id.
Notice to Defaulted Parties
though the defaulted parties do not have the right to contest
liability at this point, they retain the right to contest the
scope and amount of damages. Accordingly, in order to make
certain that the defaulted Defendants are aware of their
rights, the Court ORDERS counsel for the Plaintiff to give
the Defendants notice of the date, time and location of the
damages hearing so that the Court satisfies itself of the
concerns raised by the First Circuit in Key Bank of Maine
v. Tablecloth Textile Co., 74 F.3d 349 (1st Cir. 1996).
Counsel for the Plaintiff should be prepared to present
evidence of compliance with this order at the damages
Court ORDERS that an evidentiary hearing on damages be held
at the mutual convenience of the Plaintiff and the Court and
that, once the date, time and place of the damages hearing
are set, Plaintiff's counsel give notice of the hearing
to the defaulted Defendants and alert them of their ...