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DariTech, Inc. v. Te Velde

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Pendleton Division

November 16, 2018

DARITECH, INC., a Washington corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
GREG TE VELDE, an individual, formerly doing business as Willow Creek Dairy, and doing business as Lost Valley Farm, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          PATRICIA SULLIVAN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff DariTech, Inc., brings this action for breach of contract and related claims against defendant Greg Te Velde, formerly doing business as Willow Creek Dairy, and doing business as Lost Valley Farm, to recover the unpaid balance on dairy farm equipment and services that plaintiff provided defendant. Defendant has not appeared or otherwise taken any action in this matter. The Court entered default on March 6, 2018. (Docket No. 9). Plaintiff filed a Motion for Default Judgment (Docket No. 10), on which the Court, finding the Motion deficient, ordered supplemental briefing (Docket No. 14). Plaintiff then filed an Amended Motion for Default Judgment. (Docket No. 15). On April 30, 2018, plaintiff filed a Notice that defendant filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on April 27, 2018, in the Eastern District of California. (Docket No. 18). On August 28, 2018, the Court stayed this matter pending the bankruptcy proceedings. (Docket No. 19). On August 31, 2018, plaintiff filed a Notice that the Bankruptcy Court had approved relief from the automatic stay of bankruptcy. (Docket No. 20).

         On November 15, 2018, plaintiff filed an Unopposed Motion for Entry of Judgment Consistent with Stipulation between Parties and Order of Bankruptcy Court. (Docket No. 22). Pursuant to the stipulation between the parties, the parties move for this Court to enter Judgment in favor of plaintiff and against defendant in the amount of $396, 271.47. The Court GRANTS plaintiff's motion.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is a dairy equipment company that manufactures, supplies, and installs dairy farm equipment. Compl. ¶ 7 (Docket No. 1); Suppl. DeWaard Decl. ¶ 2 (Docket No. 16). Defendant had been developing and improving property in Morrow County, Oregon, to operate a dairy farm. Compl. ¶ 6; Suppl. DeWaard Decl. ¶ 3.

         In March 2016, defendant ordered various pieces of dairy farming equipment from plaintiff. Compl. ¶ 8; Suppl. DeWaard Decl. ¶ 4. Defendant agreed to pay $862, 952 for the equipment. Id. Defendant made a 10% down payment in March 2016, with 70% of the agreed price to be paid upon delivery, and the remaining 20% to be paid within 30 days of completion of the order. Id. Plaintiff completed installation of the order in July 2017. Compl. ¶ 9; Suppl. DeWaard Decl. ¶ 5. Defendant then ordered additional equipment and services, in the amount of $342, 993.16, which plaintiff delivered and provided. Compl. ¶ 10; Suppl. DeWaard Decl. ¶ 6.

         Plaintiff has invoiced defendant and demanded payment for the supplied equipment, labor, service, and parts, but defendant has failed to pay the full balance owed. Compl. ¶ 11; Suppl. DeWaard Decl. ¶ 7. As of March 6, 2018, defendant had paid plaintiff $820, 236.54, leaving a balance owed to plaintiff of $376, 146.06, including interest. Id.; see Compl., Exs. 1 & 2; Suppl. DeWaard Decl. ¶ 7, Exs. 1 & 2.

         Defendant was served with the Summons and Complaint in this action by substitute service on January 29, 2018, with follow-up mailing completed on January 30, 2018. (Docket No. 4). Proof of service was filed February 5, 2018. Id. On February 21, 2018, defendant's attorney contacted plaintiff's attorney and informed her that defendant did not dispute the Complaint's allegations, did not intend to contest the matter, and agreed that default judgment was appropriate. Schleicher Decl. ¶ 4 (Docket No. 7). Defendant failed to appear, plead, or otherwise defend this action. Id. ¶ 5.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         After an entry of default against an unresponsive defendant, a court may grant default judgment in plaintiff's favor and award damages. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2). “The district court's decision whether to enter a default judgment is a discretionary one.” Aldabe v. Aldabe, 616 F.2d 1089, 1092 (9th Cir. 1980). In exercising its discretion, the court considers the following factors, as articulated in Eitel v. McCool:

(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 decisions on the merits.

782 F.2d 1470, 1471-72 (9th Cir. 1986). Upon entry of default, the non-responding party is deemed to have admitted the factual allegations against him, except allegations of damages. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(b)(6); Geddes v. United Fin. Group, 559 F.2d 557, 560 (9th Cir. 1977). Thus, the court accepts plaintiff's pleaded facts as true, but plaintiff must prove damages. TeleVideo Sys., Inc. v. Heidenthal, 826 F.2d 915, 917-18 (9th Cir. 1987).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Whether to Grant ...


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