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Paddock v. Ballou

United States District Court, D. Idaho

April 20, 2018

SHALYNN F. PADDOCK, M.B. and A.P., Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW BALLOU; BRIANA DIXON; COUNTY OF CANYON, a public entity; IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND WELFARE CPA; RAYCHELLE MINDEN, in her individual capacity; MIRANDA SQUIBB, in her individual capacity; JASMINE OLMEDO, in her individual capacity; ARACELI LUNA, in her individual capacity; CALDWELL POLICE DEPARTMENT; OFFICER T. EDWARDS, in his individual capacity; OFFICER DEFUR, in his individual capacity KIDS SERVICES, INC. of Caldwell, Canyon County, Idaho; and JOHN AND JANE DOES 1-50, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          David C. Nye U.S. District Court Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Pending before the Court is Plaintiff Shalynn Paddock's Motion for Entry of Default Judgment. Dkt. 47. This Motion is premature and procedurally improper; therefore, the Court will DENY the Motion. Additionally, this case has other procedural flaws that preclude default judgment in the first place. The Court will address these issues as well.

         II. DISCUSSION

         Paddock requests entry of default judgment against each of the defendants who have failed to appear in this case. Paddock makes the request under Federal Rule of Procedure 55(b) and asks the Court to enter judgment in the amount of $500, 000 as requested in her Complaint. Dkt. 1.

         Paddock fails to understand the two-step process required by Rule 55. When a defendant has “failed to pled or otherwise defend, ” the clerk must enter the party's default. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). This is a prerequisite to default judgement under Rule 55(b). See generally Fed. R. Civ. P. 55; Eitel v. McCool, 782 F.2d 1470, 1471 (9th Cir. 1986). Paddock, however, has not asked the clerk to enter default. This is the first reason the Court must deny Paddock's Motion. Additionally, if the clerk enters a party's default under Rule 55(a), Rule 55(b) outlines when the clerk must enter default judgment and when the Court must enter default judgment. The main distinction between the two is that if the claim is for a “sum certain or a sum that can be made certain by computation, ” the clerk can enter default judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(1). In all other cases, however, the Court must enter default judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2). Contrary to Paddock's assertion, the generic request of $500, 000 in her Complaint for damages does not qualify as a sum certain. See Franchise Holding II, LLC. v. Huntington Rests. Grp., Inc., 375 F.3d 922, 929 (9th Cir. 2004).

         Second, Rule 55(b)(1) only applies to defendants that have defaulted for failure to appear under Rule 55(a) and a person can only fail to appear if he or she had proper service of the lawsuit. As just noted, because the amount requested is not a sum certain, the Court would most likely need to undertake default judgment proceedings under Rule 55(b)(2) anyway-which requires notice to all parties-but that aside, Paddock has failed to properly serve the parties she requests default against in the first place. In other words, Paddock cannot seek Rule 55(b) default judgment because she has not sought a Rule 55(a) clerk's entry of default and she cannot seek a Rule 55(a) clerk's entry of default because she has not correctly served the defendants against whom she seeks default judgment. This is the second reason the Court must deny Paddock's Motion.

         In this case, there are twelve Defendants. Three of the Defendants have filed appearances (and subsequently moved for dismissal of this action). Paddock's Motion for Entry of Default is against the remaining nine Defendants. Paddock, however, has not properly served these Defendants and/or some of them are not even proper parties in this lawsuit. The status of the Defendants in this case is as follows:

         ANDREW BALLOU: Paddock served this Defendant (Dkt. 15), and he has made an appearance (Dkt. 3).

         BRIANA DIXON: Paddock served this Defendant (Dkt. 14), and she has made an appearance (Dkt. 4).

         KIDS SERVICES, INC. of Caldwell, Canyon County, Idaho: Paddock served this Defendant (Dkt. 12), and it has made an appearance (Dkt. 10).

         COUNTY OF CANYON, a public entity: Paddock incorrectly served Canyon County Prosecuting Attorney (Dkt. 17) in lieu of this Defendant. See I.R.C.P. 4(d)(4).[1]Paddock must correctly serve this Defendant.

         IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND WELFARE CPA: Paddock incorrectly served Canyon County Prosecuting Attorney (Dkt. 16) in lieu of this Defendant. See I.R.C.P. 4(d)(4). Paddock must correctly serve this Defendant.

         RAYCHELLE MINDEN, in her individual capacity: Paddock has not submitted ...


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