United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Bluefield
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
A. FABER SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the court is plaintiff's motion for entry of default
judgment. ECF No. 8. For reasons more fully expressed below,
the court GRANTS plaintiff's motion.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
a contract action. In September and October 2012, Plaintiff,
REI Drilling, Inc. performed drilling and related services on
Resurrection Coal Mine #2 located in Bartley, West Virginia
pursuant to an agreement with the defendant, Resurrection
Coal Company, Inc. See Complaint, pp. 1-2. The terms
of the parties' agreement are contained in a Contract
Purchase Order dated June 5, 2012. See id., Ex. A.
After performing the services requested by Resurrection Coal,
REI sent the defendant an invoice for $116, 129.52. See
id., Ex. B. Between May 6, 2013 and May 6, 2014, REI
states Resurrection Coal made 10 payments in the amount of
$32, 373.18. Despite REI's demands, Resurrection Coal
failed to make additional payments on the outstanding balance
of $83, 756.34. Id., pp. 2- 3.
filed its Complaint on October 16, 2017. Resurrection Coal
failed to answer the Complaint and REI moved for an entry of
default on January 11, 2018, (ECF No. 8), which the Clerk of
this court entered the same day. ECF No. 10. The same motion
also requested this court to enter a default judgment in the
amount of $83, 756.34, plus interest. ECF No. 8. Plaintiff
attached two affidavits setting forth plaintiff's
service, defendant's failure to respond, and an
accounting of the sum certain of $83, 756.34 owed.
See ECF Nos. 8-1, 8-2.
service on a defendant is validly effected under Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 4, and the defendant chooses not to plead
or otherwise defend itself in an action, all of the averments
in the complaint except those relating to damages are deemed
admitted. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(b)(6); Ryan v.
Homecomings Fin. Network, 253 F.3d 778, 780 (4th Cir.
2001) (stating that “the defendant, by his default,
admits the plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations of
fact”); Branch Banking & Trust Co. v.
Fowler, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3799, at *6 (W.D. Va. Mar.
entry of default judgment under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 55 is left to the discretion of the court. SEC
v. Lawbaugh, 359 F.Supp.2d 418, 421 (D.Md. 2005). The
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has a “strong
policy” that “cases be decided on their
merits.” Id. (quoting United States v.
Shaffer Equip. Co., 11 F.3d 450, 453 (4th Cir. 1993)).
Nevertheless, a default judgment may be appropriate when the
adversary process has been halted because of an essentially
unresponsive party. Lawbaugh, 359 F.Supp.2d at
421-22 (citing Jackson v. Beech, 636 F.2d 831, 836
(D.C. Cir. 1980)).
case, Resurrection Coal was validly served pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4. See ECF Nos. 3-
5. Resurrection Coal has failed to answer, defend or
substantially appear in this action. Because Resurrection
Coal has had ample notice of this pending lawsuit but has
taken no meaningful action, granting plaintiff's motion
for default judgment is appropriate. See Lawbaugh,
359 F.Supp.2d at 422.
Rule of Civil Procedure 54(c) provides some limitation on the
court's discretion to enter default judgment: “A
default judgment must not differ in kind from, or exceed in
amount, what is demanded in the pleadings.” Damages may
not generally be awarded without a hearing or a demonstration
by detailed affidavits establishing the necessary facts.
See United Artists Corp. v. Freeman, 605
F.2d 854, 857 (5th Cir. 1979). Courts, however, may award
damages in situations in which they may be determined with
certainty by reference to the pleadings and supporting
documentation. James v. Frame, 6 F.3d 307, 310 (5th
instant case, plaintiff submits the affidavit of Jeremy
Mortensen, Chief Financial Officer of REI, subtracting the
payments made by defendant from the amount owed under
REI's invoice sent to Resurrection Coal. ECF Nos. 8-2;
1-2. Having reviewed plaintiff's motion and supporting
materials, the court concludes that a hearing is not
necessary to establish that plaintiff is entitled to the
entry of default judgment in the amount of $83, 756.34, plus
post-judgment interest at the rate established by 28 U.S.C.