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Hawaii Carpenters Trust Funds v. Saragosa

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

October 18, 2017

HAWAII CARPENTERS TRUST FUNDS, ET AL., Plaintiffs,
v.
CRENSTON W. SARAGOSA, Defendant.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION TO GRANT PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT AGAINST DEFENDANT CRENSTON W. SARAGOSA [1]

          Richard L. Puglisi, United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiffs Trustees of the Hawaii Carpenters Trust Funds ("Plaintiffs") filed a Motion for Default Judgment Against Defendant Crenston W. Saragosa on September 20, 2017 ("Motion"). ECF No. 11. Defendant was served with a copy of the Motion, but did not file an opposition or otherwise respond. See ECF No. 11- 8. The Court found the Motion suitable for disposition without a hearing pursuant to Rule 7.2(d) of the Local Rules of Practice of the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii. ECF No. 12. After consideration of the Motion, the supporting memoranda, exhibits, and the record in this action, the Court FINDS AND RECOMMENDS that the Motion be GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs filed their Complaint against Defendant on August 2, 2017. ECF No. 1. The Complaint alleges that Defendant was an employee eligible, along with his dependents, under a collective bargaining agreement for benefits from the Hawaii Carpenters Trust Funds. Id. ¶ 6-7. Defendant and his former spouse, Melissa K. Au-Saragosa, received benefits from the Hawaii Carpenters Trust Funds. Id. ¶ 7. Pursuant to the rules and regulations of the Hawaii Carpenters Trust Funds, coverage for a participant's spouse terminates upon the dissolution of the marriage. Id. ¶ 8.

         On August 20, 2014, Defendant submitted a form to the Hawaii Carpenters Trust Funds that indicated he was "single." Id. ¶ 9. Plaintiffs sought clarification from Defendant asking that he submit his divorce decree as required by the agreement. Id. On May 24, 2016, Defendant provided a copy of the decree showing that his divorce was finalized on July 7, 2011. Id. Benefits in the amount of $57, 758.37 were paid out on behalf of Melissa K. Au-Saragosa between the time of the divorce and May 24, 2016. Id. ¶ 10. Plaintiffs seek to recover $57, 758.37 from Defendant and also request attorneys' fees and costs under the collective bargaining agreement and 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g). Id. ¶¶ 13-14. The Clerk entered default against Defendant pursuant to Rule 55(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on September 11, 2017. ECF No. 9.

         ANALYSIS

         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 the entry of default judgment is within the discretion of the court. Haw. Carpenters' Trust Funds v. Stone, 794 F.2d 508, 511-12 (9th Cir. 1986). Entry of default does not entitle the non-defaulting party to a default judgment as a matter of right. Valley Oak Credit Union v. Villegas, 132 B.R. 742, 746 (9th Cir. 1991). 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 material facts;
(6) whether the default was due to excusable neglect; and
(7) the strong policy underlying the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure favoring ...

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