United States District Court, D. Maryland
LIPTON HOLLANDER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
January 22, 2018, plaintiff Braxton-Grant Technologies, Inc.
(“Braxton-Grant”) filed suit against defendant
C&C International Computers & Consultants, Inc.
(“C&C”). ECF 1. Braxton-Grant, a
cybersecurity consulting firm specializing in network and
data security, asserted a claim for breach of a contract to
provide information technology services.
Id.Plaintiff appended two exhibits to the
docket reflects that C&C was served on January 30, 2018,
by personal service on Bill James, President of C&C.
See ECF 4; see also ECF 10-1. C&C did
not respond to the suit. Therefore, pursuant to a request by
Braxton-Grant (ECF 5), the Clerk entered an Order of Default
as to C&C on March 22, 2018. ECF 7.
April 24, 2018, Braxton-Grant filed a Request for Entry of
Default Judgment (ECF 10 (“Motion”), as well as
the Affidavit of Kathleen M. McDonald, Esq., counsel for
plaintiff (ECF 10-1), and the Affidavit of Meredith Braxton,
a principal of Braxton-Grant. ECF 10-2. The Motion requests
entry of judgment against C&C in the amount of $252,
840.00, plus costs. ECF 10 at 3. However, Braxton-Grant has
not enumerated any applicable costs. Defendant has not
responded to the Motion, and the time to do so has expired.
See Local Rule 105.2(a).
hearing is necessary to resolve the Motion. See
Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons that follow, I shall GRANT
55(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil procedure governs default
judgments. In particular, Rule 55(b)(1) provides that the
clerk may enter a default judgment if the plaintiff's
claim is “for a sum certain or a sum that can be made
certain by computation.” But, “[a] plaintiff's
assertion of a sum in a complaint does not make the sum
‘certain' unless the plaintiff claims liquidated
damages; otherwise the complaint must be supported by
affidavit or documentary evidence. Monge v. Portofino
Ristorante, 751 F.Supp.2d 789, 794 (D. Md. 2010) (Grimm,
sure, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth
Circuit has a “strong policy that cases be decided on
the merits.” United States v. Shaffer Equip.
Co., 11 F.3d 450, 453 (4th Cir. 1993); see Tazco,
Inc. v. Director, Office of Workers' Compensation
Program, 895 F.2d 949, 950 (4th Cir. 1990); Disney
Enters. v. Delane, 446 F.Supp.2d 402, 405 (D. Md. 2006).
But, that policy is not absolute. Default judgment
“‘is appropriate when the “adversary
process has been halted because of an essentially
unresponsive party.'” Entrepreneur Media, Inc.
v. JMD Entertainment Group, LLC, 958 F.Supp.2d 588, 593
(D. Md. 2013) (quoting SEC v. Lawbaugh, 359
F.Supp.2d 418, 421 (D. Md. 2005)).
noted, defendant did not respond to the suit. Therefore, all
of plaintiff's factual allegations, other than those
pertaining to damages, are deemed admitted. See Fed.
R. Civ. P. 8(b)(6); see also Ryan v. Homecomings Fin.
Network, 253 F.3d 778, 780 (4th Cir. 2001) (stating that
the court accepts as true the well pleaded factual
allegations in the Complaint as to liability). But, the court
must determine whether the undisputed factual allegations
constitute a legitimate cause of action. Id. at
780-81; see also 10A Wright, Miller & Kane,
Federal Practice and Procedure § 2688 (3d ed.
2010 Supp.) (“[L]iability is not deemed established
simply because of the default . . . and the court, in its
discretion, may require some proof of the facts that must be
established in order to determine liability.”).
court is satisfied that liability has been established, it
must then determine the appropriate amount of damages.
Ryan, 253 F.3d at 780-81. Allegations
“relating to the amount of damages” are not
deemed admitted based on a defendant's failure to respond
to a suit. Fed R. Civ. P. 8(b)(6); see Ryan, 253
F.3d at 780 (“‘[D]efault is not treated as an
absolute confession by the defendant of his liability and of
the plaintiff's right to recover'”) (citation
omitted); Monge, 751 F.Supp.2d at 794; Trs. of
the Elec. Welfare Trust Fund v. MH Passa Elec. Contracting,
Inc., 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.”); Pentech Fin.
Servs., Inc. v. Old Dominion Saw Works, Inc., No.
6:09cv00004, 2009 WL 1872535, at *1 (W.D. Va. June 30, 2009)
(“Upon default judgment, Plaintiff's factual
allegations are accepted as true for all purposes excluding
determination of damages.”).
the court must make an independent determination regarding
allegations as to damages. See Credit Lyonnais Sec.
(USA), Inc. v. Alcantara, 183 F.3d 151, 154 (2d Cir.
1999). In so doing, the court may conduct an evidentiary
hearing. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2). However, the court may also
make a determination of damages without a hearing, so long as
there is an adequate evidentiary basis in the record to
support an award of the requested damages. See Adkins v.
Teseo, 180 F.Supp.2d 15, 17 (D.D.C. 2001) (“[T]he
court may rely on detailed affidavits or documentary evidence
to determine the appropriate sum.”); see also
Trustees of the Nat'l Asbestos Workers Pension Fund v.
Ideal Insulation, Inc., ELH-11-832, 2011 WL 5151067, at
*4 (D. Md. Oct. 27, 2011) (determining that, in a case of
default judgment against an employer, “the Court may
award damages without a hearing if the record supports the
damages requested”); Monge, 751 F.Supp.2d at
795 (same); Pentech Fin. Servs., Inc., 2009 WL
1872535, at *2 (concluding that there was “no need to
convene a formal evidentiary hearing on the issue of
damages” after default judgment because plaintiff
submitted affidavits and records establishing the amount of
damages); JTH Tax, Inc. v. Smith, Civil No.
2:06CV76, 2006 WL 1982762, at *3 (E.D. Va. June 23, 2006)
(“If the defendant does not contest the amount pleaded
in the complaint and the claim is for a sum that is certain
or easily computable, the judgment can be entered for that
amount without further hearing.”).
under Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(c), “[a] default judgment must
not differ in kind from, or exceed in amount, what is
demanded in the pleadings.” See In re Genesys Data
Techs, Inc., 204 F.3d 124, 132 (4th Cir. 2000)
(“When a Complaint demands a specific amount of
damages, courts have generally held that a default judgment
cannot award additional damages.”). This is meant to