United States District Court, D. Maryland
PETERJ.MESSITTE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
February 9, 2018, Sahr Bockai filed a Complaint against
Ruvanni, Inc. ("Ruvanni") and its President Ruth
Macauley-Barrett ("Defendants''), alleging
breach of contract, unjust enrichment and misrepresentation.
Bockai filed two Returns of Summons on March 19, 2018,
showing service of the summons and Complaint on both
Defendants on February 21, 2018. Neither Ruvanni nor
Macauley-Barrett answered or entered an appearance in the
case. Accordingly, on April 18, 2018, the Clerk of the Court,
at the behest of Bockai, entered a Default in his favor. ECF
NO.8. Bockai has now filed a Motion for (Default) Judgment
(ECF No.9,, seeking $200, 000 in compensatory damages, as
well as $100, 000 in punitive damages.
following reasons, Bockaiss Motion for Judgment (ECF No.9) is
GRANTED IN PART and REVISED IN
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
about April 13, 2016, Bockai entered into a Joint Venture and
Profit Sharing Agreement (the "Agreement") with
Ruvanni for the wholesale purchase and resale of 1, 000 carat
rough diamonds. Complaint ~ 9, ECF No. I. The general terms
of the Agreement were that Bockai would wire Ruvanni, via
Ruvanni's authorized representative Macauley-Barrett,
$33, 000.00 to purchase the diamonds. Id.
¶¶ 11-12. Macauley-Barrett, who represented that
she had significant expertise and experience in this type of
transaction, would then resell the diamonds for a significant
profit. ¶¶ 14-15. Macauley-Barrett purportedly told
Bockai that a buyer for the diamonds had already been
arranged before he entered into the Agreement,, and that
Bockai was "guaranteed to receive roughly $200, 000.00
in profit in return" for his $33, 000.00 investment.
Id. ¶¶ 13, 15.
Agreement required Ruvanni to purchase and resell the
diamonds within 60 days of the execution of the Agreement,
during which time Ruvanni would return Bockaiss investment
and earned profits. ¶¶ 21-22; see also the
Agreement ¶ 2, ECF No. 9-2. If Ruvanni failed to
purchase the diamonds within the 60-day period, Bockai was
entitled to demand, in writing, the return of his investment
of $33, 000.00, which would be reimbursed within 30 days.
Complaint ¶¶ 26-27, ECF No. I; see also
the Agreement ¶ 4, ECF No. 9-2.
investment never bore fruit. He alleges in fact that neither
Macauley-Barrett nor Ruvanni ever had a potential buyer for
the diamonds, and that Macauley-Barrett intentionally
misrepresented the risk of the transaction "as a means
of inducing [him] into executing the Agreement and wiring the
funds." Complaint ~ 19, ECF No. I. Bockai purportedly
contacted Ruvanni via email on February 13, 2017, requesting
the return of his investment due to Ruvanni's failure to
perform its duties under the Agreement, but Ruvanni refused
to return the money. Id.
February 9, 2018, Bockai filed the present Complain,,
alleging breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and
misrepresentation. /d. On March 19, 2018, he filed
two Returns of Summons showing that a Summons and Complaint
were served personally on Macauley-Barrett on February 14,
2018, as to both herself individually and as the corporate
representative of Ruvanni. ECF Nos. 4 & 5. Neither
Macauley-Barrett nor Ruvanni has ever entered an appearance
in the case. On April 12, 2018, Bockai filed a Motion for
Clerks Entry of Default (ECF No. 7), which
the Clerk of the Court entered in favor of Bockai on April
18, 2018 (ECF No. 8). On May 18, 2018,
Bockai subsequently filed the present Motion for (Default)
Judgment (ECF No.9,, seeking $200, 000 in compensatory
damages and $100, 000 in punitive damages.
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a), "[w)hen a party against whom a
judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead
or otherwise defend, and that failure is shown by affidavit
or otherwise, the clerk must enter the party's
defendant's default does not automatically entitle the
plaintiff to entry of a default judgment; rather, that
decision is left to the discretion of the court. See
Baltimore Line Handling Co. v. Brophy, 771 F.Supp.2d
531, 540 (D. Md. 2011). The Fourth Circuit has a "strong
policy that cases be decided on the merits." United
States v. Shaffer Equip. Co., U F.3d 450, 462 (4th Cir.
1993). Nevertheless, default judgment may be appropriate
where the "adversary process has been halted because of
an essentially unresponsive party." S.E.C. v.
Lawbaugh, 359 F.Supp.2d 418, 421 (D. Md. 2005) (citing
Jackson v. Beech, 636 F.2d 831, 836 (D.C. Cir.
Court takes as true the well-pleaded factual allegations in
the Complaint as to liability, but is not obligated to do so
as to damages. See Ryan v. Homecomings Fin. Network,
253 F.3d 778, 780 (4th Cir. 2001). In order to determine the
appropriate damage award in a default case, the court may
hold a hearing to prove damages, but, again, it is not
required to do so; it may rely instead on "detailed
affidavits or documentary evidence to determine the
appropriate sum" Adkins v. Teseo, 180 F.Supp.2d
15, 17 (D.D.C. 2001) (citing United Artists Corp. v.
Freeman, 605 F.2d 854, 857 (5th Cir. 1979)); see
also Laborers' Disl. Council Pension v. E.G.S.,
Inc., Civ. No. 09.31742 2010 WL 1568595, at *3 (D. Md.
Apr. 16, 200)) r[O]n default judgment, the Court may only
award damages without a hearing if the record supports the
damages requested."); DirecTV Inc. v. Yancey,
2005 WL 3435030, at *2 (W.O. Va. Dec. 12, 2005) (concluding
that plaintiff "presented sufficient evidence to support
its claim for damages, costs and fees by way of
taken as true, Bockai's allegations clearly establish
liability on the part of Ruvanni for breaching the Agreement.
Along with the language of the Agreement itself, they
indicate that Bockai entered into a contract with Defendants
to purchase diamonds, that he performed his contractual
obligations by wiring Defendants $33, OOO, and that
Defendants breached the contract when they failed to return
Bockai's investment to him within 30 days of his written