United States District Court, D. Maryland
Lipton Hollander United States District Judge
February 23, 2018, plaintiff J&J Sports Productions, Inc.
(“J&J”) sued Glanville, Inc., t/a
Savana's Island Bar & Grill, t/a Savannah Island, t/a
Savannah's (“Glanville”); Shannon Glanville;
and Lores Glanville. ECF 1 (“Complaint”). Plaintiff
alleges that it had exclusive distribution rights to the
“Floyd Mayweather, Jr. v. Andre Berto WBA/WBC
Welterweight Championship Fight Program” (the
“Program”) and that defendants violated 47 U.S.C.
§§ 605 et seq. and 47 U.S.C. §§
553 et seq. by intercepting and broadcasting the
Program without a valid sublicensing agreement. Id.
(italics in original). Plaintiff seeks statutory and punitive
damages. Id. ¶¶ 25, 30.
provided returns of service for all three defendants. ECF 5;
ECF 6; ECF 7. However, defendants did not respond to the
suit. See Docket. Therefore, pursuant to requests by
J&J (ECF 8; ECF 9; ECF 12), the Clerk entered a default
as to Shannon (ECF 10) and Lores (ECF 11) on April 19, 2018,
and as to Glanville on May 2, 2018. ECF 13. The matter of
service on Lores is discussed, infra.
31, 2018, counsel for plaintiff notified the Court that on
May 26, 2018, Shannon initiated bankruptcy proceedings in the
U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland.
See ECF 14. Therefore, under 11 U.S.C. §
362(a)(1), this litigation was automatically stayed as to
Shannon. But, the automatic stay did not preclude the
continuation of the suit as to Lores and Glanville. See
Kreisler v. Goldberg, 478 F.3d 209, 213 (4th Cir. 2007).
19, 2018, plaintiff filed a Request for Entry of Default
Judgment (ECF 16) as to Glanville and Lores, supported by a
memorandum of law (ECF 16-4) (collectively, the
“Motion”) as well as exhibits. ECF 16-5 to ECF
16-12. The Motion requests entry of judgment against
defendants in the amount of $14, 200. ECF 16 at 2. In
particular, J&J seeks $2, 000 “[f]or statutory
damages under 47 U.S.C. § 605”; $10, 000
“[f]or enhanced damages under 47 U.S.C. §
605”; and $2, 200 in “attorney's fees and
costs, ” for a total of $14, 200. Id.
hearing is necessary to resolve the Motion. Local Rule 105.6.
For the reasons that follow, I will deny the Motion, as
premature, and without prejudice.
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). 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.
the entry of default against a party, the court must
determine whether the undisputed factual allegations
constitute a legitimate cause of action. Ryan v.
Homecomings Fin. Network, 253 F.3d 778, 780-81 (4th Cir.
2001); 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 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
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