United States District Court, D. Maine
DECISION AND ORDER
A. WOODCOCK, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
moves for entry of default judgment against a defaulted
defendant pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b).
The Court grants the motion and orders, sua sponte, that
final judgment be entered against the defaulted defendant
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b).
Salt LLC (Sea Salt) filed a complaint against East End
Transport, LLC (East End) and two additional defendants in
York County Superior Court for the state of Maine on August
3, 2018, alleging state law claims. Notice of
Removal, Attach. 1, Compl. (ECF No. 1-1). On
October 3, 2018, Sea Salt amended its Complaint to add three
new defendants as well as federal claims under the Racketeer
Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO Act), 18
U.S.C. §§ 1961 et seq. Id., Attach. 2,
First Am. Compl. (ECF No. 1-2) (FAC). On
October 5, 2018, Vincent J. Mastropasqua removed the action
to this Court. Id. (ECF No. 1). On November 14,
2018, the Clerk of Court issued a federal court civil summons
to East End, informing East End that a lawsuit had been filed
against it. Summons in a Civil Action, Attach. 5,
Summons Issued as to East End Transport, LLC (ECF
No. 19-5). On the same day, counsel for Sea Salt asserted
that she “sent the necessary forms to request a waiver
of service from Defendant East End Transport, LLC via the
entity's registered agent, Attorney Steven Rand.”
Pl.'s Mot. to Extend Deadline to Complete
Service ¶ 2 (ECF No. 28). East End did not respond
by the January 3, 2019 deadline to complete service of
process. Id. ¶ 4. On January 4, 2019, the
Magistrate Judge granted an extension of time to complete
service until March 4, 2019. Order (ECF No. 29).
February 11, 2019, East End was served with the issued
summons. Proof of Service (ECF No. 37). On April 5,
2019, Sea Salt filed a motion for default judgment against
East End. Pl.'s Mot. for Entry of Default J.
(ECF No. 41) (Pl.'s Default Mot.). On April 17,
2019, Sea Salt filed a motion for entry of default against
East End. Pl.'s Mot. for Entry of Default (ECF
No. 46). The Clerk's Office entered default that same
day. Order Granting Pl.'s Mot. for Entry of
Default (ECF No. 47).
April 30, 2019, the Court issued an order on Sea Salt's
motion for default judgment, granting Sea Salt's request
for an evidentiary hearing on damages and reserving judgment
on the entry of default judgment. Order on Mot. for
Default J. at 4-5 (ECF No. 49). The Court ordered Sea
Salt to place evidence on the record at the evidentiary
hearing that East End had not “appeared or otherwise
defended the case, ” and to provide East End with
“advance notice of the date, time, and place” of
the hearing. Id. at 4.
evidentiary hearing on damages took place on June 17, 2019.
At that hearing, the Court found that Sea Salt
“presented sufficient information to establish damages
. . . in the amount of $1, 500, 000” and sought from
counsel for Sea Salt “an argument . . . in writing as
to what amount of punitive damages . . . are justified and
why under the law.” Tr. of Proceedings at
62:24-63:07 (ECF No. 74). Although counsel for Sea Salt
thought at the time of the June 17, 2019 hearing that she had
complied with the notice requirement of the April 30, 2019
order, she later discovered that she had inadvertently failed
to do so. Following this hearing, on June 21, 2019, counsel
for Sea Salt therefore filed a motion to continue the damages
hearing due to the inadvertent failure to provide advance
notice of the hearing to East End. Pl.'s Mot. to
Continue Damages Hr'g (ECF No. 60). The Court
granted the motion the same day. Order (ECF No. 61).
21, 2019, Mr. Mastropasqua filed a motion for reconsideration
of the Court's Order on Sea Salt's motion to continue
the damages hearing. Def. Vincent Mastropasqua's Mot.
for Recons. of Order on Pl.'s Mot. to Continue Damages
Hr'g (ECF No. 62). On June 27, 2019, Defendant
Amanda F. Bellerose joined Mr. Mastropasque's motion.
Def. Amanda F. Bellerose's Mot. for Recons. of Order
on Pl.'s Mot. to Continue Damages Hr'g (ECF No.
66). On July 2, 2019, Sea Salt filed an affidavit
establishing its attempts to provide East End with notice of
the continued damages hearing. Suppl. Aff. of Laura H.
White Regarding Notice of Hr'g to East End Transport,
LLC (ECF No. 72). Sea Salt responded to Mr. Mastropasqua
and Ms. Bellerose's motion for reconsideration on July
12, 2019. Pl.'s Opp'n to Def. Vincent J.
Mastropasqua's Mot. for Recons. (ECF No. 73). Mr.
Mastropasqua replied to Sea Salt's opposition to its
motion for reconsideration on July 17, 2019. Def. Vincent
Mastropasqua's Reply to Pl.'s Opp'n to Mot. for
Recons. (ECF No. 77).
17, 2019, the Magistrate Judge issued a scheduling order in
the case. Scheduling Order with Incorporated Rule 26(f)
Order (ECF No. 78). In light of this scheduling order,
counsel for Mr. Mastropasqua sent a letter to the Clerk of
Court on August 7, 2019 withdrawing his motion for
reconsideration. August 7, 2019 Letter to Clerk of
Court (ECF No. 82). On August 8, 2019, at the continued
damages hearing, the Court deemed the August 7 letter to be a
withdrawal of the motion for reconsideration by Mr.
Mastropasqua, and further found Ms. Bellerose and her
attorney's absence from the proceeding to be a waiver of
the motion for reconsideration. Oral Order Withdrawing
Mot. for Recons. (ECF No. 84).
1, 2019, Sea Salt filed a memorandum in support of its motion
for default judgment, attaching an affidavit in support of
its request for attorney's fees. Pl.'s Mem. in
Support of Default J. (ECF No. 69); id.,
Attach. 2, Fee Aff. of Laura H. White (ECF No.
69-2). On August 8, 2019, the Court held the continued
damages hearing. The Court concluded, taking the allegations
against East End as true, that Sea Salt had presented
sufficient evidence to justify treble damages under the RICO
Act and sufficient evidence of actual or implied malice to
justify punitive damages of twice the amount of compensatory
damages. The Court awarded both treble damages and punitive
damages to Sea Salt, though noting that the punitive damages
would be subsumed by the treble damages. The Court reserved
judgment on the request for attorney's fees and ordered
counsel for Sea Salt to file an amended application for
attorney's fees with the Court by August 29, 2019.
Statement of Facts
the Court has previously found at the two evidentiary
hearings that sufficient evidence exists to support Sea
Salt's requests for damages and punitive damages, a brief
statement of relevant facts-found true as against East End
but no other defendant-follows.
summer of 2017, Sea Salt hired a forensic accounting firm to
investigate an unexplained and substantial loss of product
for the year 2016 in the amount of 100, 000 pounds of
lobster. Tr. of Proceedings at 10:10-11:06. Sea Salt
estimated that loss to be worth approximately $450, 000 to
$600, 000 based on a price per pound estimate of $4.50 to
$5.95. Id. at 11:07-17. The forensic accounting firm
determined that this ...