United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division
RANDAL HALL, CHIEF' JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
the Court is Plaintiff's motion for default judgment.
(Doc. 24.) For the reasons set forth below, the Court
GRANTS Plaintiff's motion.
is a doctor of medicine registered to dispense Schedule II,
III, IV, and V controlled substances in the State of Georgia.
Plaintiff, the United States of America, alleges that
Defendant violated Section 829 of the Controlled Substances
Act ("CSA"), 21 U.S.C. § 829, by improperly
dispensing Schedule II controlled substances. Specifically,
Plaintiff claims that Defendant, who practiced at three
different locations, would pre-sign blank prescriptions so
that physician assistants - who otherwise could prescribe
only Schedule III, IV, and V drugs - could prescribe Schedule
II controlled substances in Defendant's absence.
filed its complaint against Defendant on May 26, 2017. (Doc.
1.) Defendant failed to answer or otherwise appear. Plaintiff
moved for an entry of default, and on December 22, 2017, the
Clerk entered default against Defendant. (Docs. 20, 21.) On
March 20, 2018, Plaintiff moved for default judgment against
Defendant. (Doc. 24.) Plaintiff sought damages of $3.3
million and requested an evidentiary hearing to establish its
requested damages. The Court held an evidentiary hearing on
April 25, 2018, and heard evidence related to Defendant's
liability as well as damages.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55, a court may enter default
judgment against a defendant when: (1) both subject-matter
and personal jurisdiction exist; (2) the allegations in the
complaint state a claim against the defendant; and (3) the
plaintiff has shown the damages that it is entitled to.
See Pitts ex rel. Pitts v. Seneca Sports, Inc., 321
F.Supp.2d 1353, 1356-58 (S.D. Ga. 2004).
defendant's default does not in itself warrant the court
in entering a default judgment." Nishimatsu Constr.
Co. v. Houston Nat'l Bank, 515 F.2d 1200, 1206 (5th
Cir. 1975). Default judgment is warranted only "when
there is a sufficient basis in the pleadings for the judgment
entered." Surtain v. Hamlin Terrace Found., 789
F.3d 1239, 1245 (11th Cir. 2015) (citation omitted) (internal
quotation marks omitted). And although a ''defaulted
defendant is deemed to admit the plaintiff's well-pleaded
allegations of fact, [a defendant] is not held to admit facts
that are not well-pleaded or to admit conclusions of
law." Id. (citation omitted) (internal
quotation marks omitted). The upshot of this standard is that
"a motion for default judgment is like a reverse motion
to dismiss for failure to state a claim." Id.
Thus, when evaluating a motion for default judgment, a court
must look to see whether the "complaint contain[s]
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation omitted)
(internal quotation marks omitted).
Court has subject-matter jurisdiction because this case
arises under federal law. 28 U.S.C. § 1331. It also has
personal jurisdiction over Defendant because the conduct at
issue occurred in the Southern District of Georgia. 21 U.S.C.
§ 842(c) (1) (A); see also Goodyear Dunlop Tires
Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915, 923 (2011).
alleges that Defendant violated 21 U.S.C. § 842 by
pre-signing blank prescriptions. Section 842 states that
"[i]t shall be unlawful for any person . . . who [is
registered to dispense controlled substances] to distribute
or dispense a controlled substance in violation of section
829 of this title." 21 U.S.C. § 842(a)(1). Section
829 states that "[e]xcept when dispensed directly by a
practitioner, other than a pharmacist, to an ultimate user,
no controlled substance in schedule II may be dispensed
without the written prescription of a practitioner . . .
." 21 U.S.C. § 829(a). For purposes of § 829,
a valid "written prescription" means:
A prescription for a controlled substance to be effective
must be issued for a legitimate medical purpose by an
individual practitioner acting in the usual course of his
professional practice. The responsibility for the proper
prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances is upon
the prescribing practitioner, but a corresponding
responsibility rests with the pharmacist who fills the
prescription. An order purporting to be a prescription issued
not in the usual course of professional treatment or in
legitimate and authorized research is not a prescription
within the meaning and intent of section 309 of the Act (21
U.S.C. 829) and the person knowingly filling such a ...