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State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. v. Bumanglag

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

September 11, 2017

STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, an Illinois company, Plaintiff,
v.
JESSE BUMANGLAG, Defendant.

          TOM PETRUS & MILLER, LLLC, RICHARD B. MILLER, PATRICIA KEHAU WALL, ASHLEY R. SHIBUYA, ATTORNEYS FOR PLAINTIFF STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION GRANTING PLAINTIFF STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY'S MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          Kenneth J. Mansfield, United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY (“Plaintiff State Farm”), filed its Motion for Default Judgment or in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment against Defendant JESSE BUMANGLAG (“Defendant Bumanglag”) on June 2, 2017 (“Motion”). ECF No. 14. Defendant Bumanglag was served with a copy of the Motion, and he appeared at the initial hearing on the Motion held on July 14, 2017 and requested a continuance of 90 days to seek legal assistance. ECF No. 18. The Court continued the hearing on the Motion to September 6, 2017. Id. Defendant Bumanglag did not file an opposition or otherwise respond to the Motion. On September 6, 2017, a hearing on the Motion was held, Patricia Kehau Wall, Esq. appeared for Plaintiff State Farm and no appearance was made by Defendant Bumanglag. After careful consideration of the Motion, the declarations, exhibits, and the record established in this action, the Court FINDS AND RECOMMENDS that the Motion be GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case arises out of a traffic accident that occurred on July 17, 2014, in which Defendant Bumanglag's 1996 Isuzu Hombre was rear-ended by a 2003 Nissan Altima while traveling west bound on Farrington Highway. The 2003 Nissan Altima was determined to be uninsured at the time of the accident.

         Defendant Bumanglag was the named insured under Car Policy No. 082 2587- F17- 51 (the “Policy”) issued by Plaintiff State Farm. The Policy was in effect from June 17, 2014 to December 17, 2014, and included uninsured motorist (UM) coverage of $50, 000 per person. Plaintiff State Farm and Defendant Bumanglag could not agree on the amount of Defendant Bumanglag's damages as a result of the accident, and Defendant Bumanglag's UM claim was arbitrated in accordance with the terms of the Policy. The arbitrator issued a decision awarding Defendant Bumanglag damages in the amount of $72, 602.93. Plaintiff State Farm made payments to him totaling $50, 000.00. Defendant Bumanglag then claimed that he was entitled to recover from Plaintiff State Farm the entire amount awarded by the arbitrator as damages against the uninsured motorist, $72, 602.93.

         Plaintiff State Farm filed the Complaint for Declaratory Judgment herein on February 13, 2017. ECF No. 1. On February 27, 2017, a certified copy of Plaintiff State Farm's Complaint for Declaratory Relief was served on Defendant Bumanglag. ECF No. 8. Defendant Bumanglag did not answer or otherwise move to defend against the Complaint, and Plaintiff State Farm filed a Request for Entry of Default with the Clerk on May 2, 2017 (ECF No. 11), which request was granted on May 2, 2017 (ECF No. 12).

         II. DISCUSSION

         Default judgment may be entered for the plaintiff if the defendant has defaulted by failing to appear and the plaintiff's claim is for a sum certain or for a sum which can by computation be made certain. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(1), (2). The granting or denial of a motion for default judgment is within the discretion of the court. Haw. Carpenters Trust Funds v. Stone, 794 F.2d 508, 511-512 (9th Cir. 1986). Default judgments are ordinarily disfavored, and cases should be decided on their merits if reasonably possible. Eitel v. McCool, 782 F.2d 1470, 1472 (9th Cir. 1986). The court should consider the following factors in deciding whether to grant a motion for default judgment:

(1) the possibility of prejudice to the plaintiff;
(2) the merits of plaintiff's substantive claim;
(3) the sufficiency of the complaint;
(4) the sum of money at stake in the action;
(5) the possibility of a dispute concerning ...

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