United States District Court, D. Maryland
Xinis United States District Judge.
October 17, 2014, Plaintiff Dakota Financial
(“Dakota”) entered into a finance lease agreement
with Defendant Dallas Trucking, LLC (“Dallas”)
whereby Dakota agreed to lease to Dallas a 2005 Mack Granite
CV713 Tri-Axle Dump Truck. ECF No. 1 at 2; ECF No. 1-2.
According to the terms of the lease agreement, Dallas was
required to pay monthly installments of $2, 737 to Dakota for
forty-two months. On March 23, 2016, Dakota filed a Complaint
against Dallas and Robinson (collectively,
“Defendants”), alleging that Dallas breached the
terms of the finance lease by failing to make timely
payments. Robinson likewise breached the lease agreement and
also breached the guaranty agreement for his failure to make
the necessary payments after Dallas defaulted on its
obligations. Dakota also requested a writ of replevin for the
immediate seizure and delivery of the truck back to Dakota.
ECF No. 1 at 5-6. On June 13, 2016, the Clerk entered an
Order of Default against the Defendants for failure to plead
or otherwise defendant against the Complaint within the time
allowed. ECF No. 18.
August 4, 2016, Dakota filed a Motion for Entry of Default
Judgment, asking this Court to “[e]nter judgment by
default, jointly and severally, against defendants Dallas
Trucking, LLC and Antione Robinson, in the total amount of
$83, 138.76, plus attorneys' fees, with post-judgement
interest at the legal rate until the judgment is fully
paid.” ECF No. 19 at 3. Dakota also requested the Court
award possession of the Truck to Dakota and award Dakota
“damages for the wrongful detention of the Equipment, .
. . and enter judgment in Dakota's favor and against
Defendant Dallas Trucking, LLC, in the amount of $25,
September 19, 2016, the Court granted Dakota's motion.
ECF Nos. 27 and 28. It also ordered Dakota's counsel to
provide, within fourteen days, a complete explanation of the
reasonable attorney's fees and associated costs that
Dakota is seeking. Defendants had fourteen days after
Dakota's submission to respond. Dakota filed its
attorney's fees motion on September 30 (ECF No. 29) and
Defendants have not responded. For the foregoing reasons,
Dakota's motion is granted.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
liability has been established, an allegation “relating
to the amount of damages” is not deemed admitted based
on a defendant's failure to deny in a required responsive
pleading. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(b)(6); Trs. of the Elec. Welfare
Trust Fund v. MH Passa Elec. Contracting, Inc., No.
DKC-08-2805, 2009 WL 2982951, at *1 (D. Md. Sept. 14, 2009)
(“Upon default, the well-pled allegations in a
complaint as to liability are taken as true, although the
allegations as to damages are not.”). Therefore, with
respect to a default judgment, “[c]laims for damages
must generally be established in an evidentiary proceeding at
which the defendant is afforded the opportunity to contest
the amount claimed.” U2 Home Entm't, Inc. v. Fu
Shun Wang, 482 F.Supp.2d 314, 318 (E.D.N.Y. 2007);
see Greyhound Exhibitgroup, Inc. v. E.L. U.L. Realty
Corp., 973 F.2d 155, 158 (2d Cir. 1992) (same). Yet, the
Court may award damages without a hearing if the record
supports the damages requested. See Pentech Fin. Servs.,
Inc. v. Old Dominion Saw Works, Inc., No. 6:09cv00004,
2009 WL 1872535, at *2 (W.D. Va. June 30, 2009) (concluding
that there was “no need to convene a formal evidentiary
hearing on the issue of damages” after default judgment
was entered against defendant because plaintiff submitted
affidavits and printouts of electronic records establishing
the amount of damages it sought); see also Virgin Records
Am., Inc. v. Lacey, 510 F.Supp.2d 588, 593 (S.D. Ala.
2007) (noting that an entry of default judgment “in no
way obviates the need for determinations of the amount and
character of damages, ” but an evidentiary hearing is
not required if “all essential evidence is already of
contends that each Defendant contracted to pay legal fees and
costs incurred by Dakota in connection with Dakota's
enforcement of its rights under the contracts at issue. The
lease agreement states that Dakota:
shall be entitled to recover its reasonable attorneys fees,
including costs of in-house counsel, whether litigation has
or has not been commenced, and all other reasonable costs
incurred in that action or proceeding, in addition to any
other remedies, reasonable costs and reasonable expenses to
which the Lessor may be entitled.
ECF No. 1-2 at 7. Similarly, in the Guaranty, Robinson
unconditionally guaranteed to pay, among other things:
(d) all costs, expenses and fees, including, but not limited
to, court costs and attorneys' fees, arising in
connection with the collection of any or all amounts, such
liabilities, obligations and duties of Lessee to Lessor and
any assignee of Lessor . . . .
ECF No. 1-3 at 2.
Maryland, a contractual obligation to pay legal fees is
generally valid and enforceable. Argonaut Ins. Co. v.
Wolverine Const., Inc., 976 F.Supp.2d 646, 656 (D. Md.
2013) (citing Atl. Contracting & Material Co. v.
Ulico Cas. Co., 380 Md. 285, 316, 844 A.2d 460, 478
(2004)). But “[w]here an award of attorneys' fees
is called for by the contract in question, the trial court
will examine the fee request for reasonableness, even in the
absence of a contractual term specifying that the fees be
reasonable.”Atl. Contracting & Material Co. v.
Ulico Cas. Co., 380 Md. 285, 316, 844 A.2d 460, 478
(2004); see also Developers Sur. v. Brantly Dev. Grp.,
Inc., No. JFM-15-3465, 2016 WL 5868550, at *12 (D. Md.
Oct. 6, 2016). Dakota bears ...