United States District Court, M.D. Georgia
ORDER GRANTING IN PART MOTION FOR DEFAULT
E. SELF, III, JUDGE
before the Court is Plaintiff Sharonica Simmons' Motion
for Default Judgment [Doc. 6] on her claims against Defendant
Trinity Hope Associates, LLC. The Court
GRANTS this motion.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Complaint [Doc. 1], Plaintiff claims that Defendant violated
the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”)
by reporting an uncollected debt to credit reporting agencies
without designating that the debt was disputed. See
15 U.S.C. § 1692e(8) (prohibiting debt collectors from
“[c]ommunicating or threatening to communicate to any
person credit information which is known or which should be
known to be false, including the failure to communicate that
a disputed debt is disputed”). Plaintiff seeks
statutory damages in the amount of $1, 000.00; actual damages
in the amount of $15, 000.00; and attorney's fees and
expenses. [Doc. 6-1, pp. 4-5]. Plaintiff effected service on
Defendant and, after Defendant failed to make an appearance
in the case, sought and received an entry of default from the
Clerk of Court on February 20, 2019.
Standard of Review
party's request and following the Clerk's entry of
default, the Court may enter a default judgment against a
defendant who has failed to plead or otherwise defend.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 55; Solaroll Shade and
Shutter Corp. v. Bio-Energy Sys., Inc., 803 F.2d 1130,
1134 (11th Cir. 1986). Entry of default judgment is committed
to the discretion of the Court. Hamm v. Dekalb Cty.,
774 F.2d 1567, 1576 (11th Cir. 1985). However, default
judgment does not follow automatically from an entry of
default. The Court “must ensure that the well-pleaded
allegations in the complaint, which are taken as true due to
the default, actually state a substantive cause of action and
that there is a substantive, sufficient basis in the
pleadings for the particular relief sought.” Tyco
Fire & Sec., LLC v. Alcocer, 218 Fed.Appx. 860, 863
(11th Cir. 2007). As to requests for damages, the Court may
conduct evidentiary hearings, although “no such hearing
is required where all essential evidence is already of
record.” SEC v. Smyth, 420 F.3d 1225, 1232
n.13 (11th Cir. 2005).
alleges in her Complaint that she owed a debt to FastTrack
Immediate Care in the amount of $126.00. [Doc. 1, ¶ 6].
In January 2018, Plaintiff discovered that Defendant reported
the debt to Equifax for inclusion on her credit report.
[Id. at ¶ 7]. In response she mailed a letter
to Defendant disputing the debt in February 2018.
[Id. at ¶ 8]. Two months later, as she was
attempting to obtain a loan, Plaintiff reviewed her credit
report and saw that Defendant failed to designate the debt as
disputed, despite having received Plaintiff's formal
dispute. [Id. at ¶¶ 9, 10].
allegations are sufficient to state a claim for violation of
the FDCPA, which specifically prohibits debt collectors from
reporting disputed debts to credit reporting agencies without
designating that the debts are disputed. See 15
U.S.C. § 1692e(8). Thus, the Court turns to whether
Plaintiff is entitled to damages.
FDCPA provides allows for plaintiffs to receive actual
damages plus “such additional damages as the court may
allow, but not exceeding $1, 000.” 15 U.S.C. §
1692k(a). Given the clear violation Defendant is alleged to
have committed, the Court finds that an award of the
statutory maximum of $1, 000.00 to be appropriate.
See 15 U.S.C. § 1692k(b)(1).
Court also held a hearing to determine actual damages.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b)(2). Due to Plaintiff's
absence at the hearing and in lieu of other testimony as to
actual damages, Plaintiff's counsel orally withdrew
Plaintiff's request for $15, 000.00 in actual damages,
leaving only the request for statutory damages. Accordingly,
the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion for
Default Judgment. Defendant is ORDERED to
pay Plaintiff $1, 000.00. Plaintiff may file a motion for
attorney's fees with the requisite documentation within
14 days of the date of this Order. See LR 54.1,