United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Southwestern Division
ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT AGAINST
AMANDA AND JONAH SCHWEITZER
ROSEANN A. KETCHMARK, JUDGE
an insurance coverage declaratory judgment action pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2201. Before the Court is the Amended Motion
for Entry of Judgment by Default filed by Plaintiff Safeco
Insurance Company of America (“Safeco”). (Doc.
31.) No. response has been filed, and the time to do so has
passed. The motion is GRANTED.
relevant facts are set forth in the Court's earlier Order
and will not be repeated here. (Doc. 28.) Entries of default
were entered by the Clerk against Amanda Schweitzer and Jonah
Schweitzer, on August 22, 2018, and September 11, 2018,
respectively. (Docs. 14, 20.) The Court has previously
determined that Safeco is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law as to Defendants C.A. and Christy Owens. (Doc. 28.)
Plaintiff now moves the Court for entry of default judgment
against Defendants Amanda Schweitzer and Jonah Schweitzer. In
particular, Safeco seeks a judgment declaring no coverage
under the homeowners' insurance policy issued by Safeco
to Defendants Amanda and Jonah Schweitzer for C.A.'s
civil claims against Amanda and Jonah.
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure sets out a two-step
procedure for obtaining a default judgment. First, when a
party “has failed to plead or otherwise defend”
“the clerk must enter the party's default.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a); Johnson v. Dayton Elec. Mfg.
Co., 140 F.3d 781, 783 (8th Cir. 1998) (entry of default
by the clerk must precede grant of default judgment under
Rule 55(b)). Second, Rule 55(b) authorizes the clerk or court
to enter a default judgment. If the judgment sought is not
for a sum certain, a “party must apply to the court for
default judgment.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2). Rule 55
provides that the court may conduct hearings if necessary to
conduct an accounting; determine the amount of damages;
establish the truth of any allegation by evidence; or
investigate any other matter. Id.
Court begins by addressing the issue of its jurisdiction over
both the subject matter and the defaulted parties. Smith
v. Ghana Commer. Bank, Ltd., 379 Fed. App'x 542, 543
(8th Cir. 2010) (per curiam) (no abuse of discretion in
denying motion for default because court lacked personal
jurisdiction); Nolles v. State Comm. for the
Reorganization of Sch. Dists, 524 F.3d 892, 897 (8th
Cir. 2008) (the court has an independent obligation to
examine its own jurisdiction); Norsyn, Inc. v.
Desai, 351 F.3d 825 (8th Cir. 2003) (no abuse of
discretion where district court sua sponte dismissed
complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction); Burnham v.
Superior Court of Calif., 495 U.S. 604, 608 (1990) (the
judgment of a court lacking jurisdiction is void); 2
Moore's Federal Practice - Civil § 12.31 (2019)
(“the court has an affirmative duty to look into its
jurisdiction over both the subject matter and the
parties” when considering a motion for default
judgment). Then, the Court turns to the instant motion in
which Safeco seeks default judgment against Defendants Amanda
and Jonah Schweitzer.
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
Court has diversity jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1332. Safeco is a New Hampshire company with
its principal place of business in Massachusetts.
(Id. at ¶ 1.) Defendants are all citizens of
Missouri. (Id. at ¶ 2-5.) The insurance policy
at issue provides personal liability coverage in the amount
of $100, 000 per occurrence. (Id. at ¶ 19.)
Because the dispute is between citizens of different states,
and the amount in controversy exceeds the sum of $75, 000,
exclusive of interest and costs, the Court has diversity
jurisdiction. (Doc. 1 at ¶ 6.)
courts have general personal jurisdiction over individuals in
the states in which the individuals are domiciled.
Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S. 117, 137 (2014).
“[T]he domicile of an individual is his true, fixed and
permanent home and place of habitation.” Vlandis v.
Kline, 412 U.S. 441, 454 (1973). “For purposes of
federal jurisdiction, ‘domicile' and
‘citizenship' are synonymous terms.”
Eckerberg v. Inter-State Studio & Publ'g
Co., 860 F.3d 1079, 1086 (8th Cir. 2017) (citations
omitted). Defendant Amanda Schweitzer is a citizen of the
state of Missouri. (Doc. 1 at ¶ 2.) Defendant Jonah
Schweitzer is a citizen of the state of Missouri.
(Id. at ¶ 3.) Because they are domiciled in the
State of Missouri, the Court has general personal
jurisdiction over Defendants Amanda and Jonah Schweitzer.
Entitlement to Judgment Against Amanda and Jonah
default judgment entered by the court binds the party facing
the default as having admitted all of the well-pleaded
allegations in the plaintiff's complaint.”
Angelo Iafrate Constr., LLC v. Potashnick Constr.,
Inc., 370 F.3d 715, 722 (8th Cir. 2004) (citations
omitted). “Factual allegations in the Complaint are
taken as true, except those relating to damages. See
Everyday Learning Corp. v. Larson, 242 F.3d 815, 818
(8th Cir. 2001). “[I]t is incumbent upon the district
court to ensure that the unchallenged facts constitute a
legitimate cause of action prior to entering final
judgment.” Marshall v. Baggett, 616 F.3d 849,
852-53 (8th Cir. 2010) (citation and internal quotations
omitted). A hearing is not necessary. See Stephenson v.
El-Batrawi, 524 F.3d 907, 915-16 (8th Cir. 2008)
(hearing not necessary if there is sufficient evidence to
support default judgment). Safeco does not seek a monetary
award, but a declaratory judgment, which can be rendered on