United States District Court, D. New Jersey
MICHAEL A. SHIPP, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs Tryg Insurance
and Toms Confectionary Group's ("Toms")
(collectively "Plaintiffs") Motion for Default
Judgment against National Refrigerated Trucking
("Defendant" or "NRT"). (ECF No. 44.) NRT
has not filed an Answer to the Complaint, any responsive
motion, or opposition to the instant motion. The Court has
carefully considered Plaintiffs's submission and decides
the matter without oral argument pursuant to Local Civil Rule
9, 2015, Plaintiffs filed a Complaint against NRT and C.H.
Robinson Worldwide, Inc. ("CHRW") (collectively
"Defendants") alleging that Defendants are liable
for damage to goods that occurred during an interstate
transport of cargo belonging to Toms. Plaintiffs allege that
Toms hired CHRW as a motor carrier to transport the goods,
which consisted of miniature chocolate liquor bottles, and
CHRW sub-contracted the transportation to NRT. According to
the Complaint, the refrigeration mechanism in NRT's truck
malfunctioned during delivery, destroying the chocolate
allege that NRT is a motor carrier and obligated under the
Carmack Amendment, 49 U.S.C. § 14706, and the terms of
the Bill of Lading to properly and safely transport the
goods. Plaintiffs allege NRT breached this duty by failing to
deliver the Cargo in the same good order and condition as
when NRT received the Cargo.
served with the Complaint by personal delivery upon NRT's
Registered Agent on August 10, 2015. (ECF No. 9; Pls.'
Mot. For Default, Affidavit of John T. Lillis, Jr.
¶¶ 9-11, ECF No. 44-1.) NRT did not appear in this
matter. The Court conducted a one-day bench trial on the
issue of liability as to CHRW. Plaintiffs move for default
judgment against NRT.
Rule of Civil Procedure 55 allows for the entry of default
judgment against a party who has failed to plead or otherwise
defend claims asserted against it. Default judgment is left
"primarily to the discretion of the district
court." Hritz v. Woma Corp., 732 F.2d 1178,
1180 (3d Cir. 1984) (citing Tozer v. Charles A. Krause
Milling Co., 189 F.2d 242, 244 (3d Cir. 1951)) Before a
Court can award default judgment, it must consider
"whether the moving party's complaint establishes a
legitimate cause of action." La. Counseling &
Family Servs., Inc. v. Makrygialos, LLC, 543 F.Supp.2d
359, 365 (D.N J. 2008). "A consequence to the entry of a
default judgment is that the factual allegations of the
complaint, except those relating to the amount of damages,
will be taken as true." Comdyne I, Inc. v.
Corbin, 908 F.2d 1142, 1149 (3d Cir. 1990) (internal
quotation marks omitted). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
55(b)(2)(B) specifies that "the court may conduct
hearings . .. when ... it needs to . . . determine the amount
of damages" owed to a party after entry of default
judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2)(B). Damages, however, may be
determined without a hearing "as long as [the court]
ensure[s] that there [is] a basis for the damages specified
in the default judgment." Malik v. Hannah, 661
F.Supp.2d 485, 493 (D.N.J. 2009).
to entering default judgment, the Court must determine
whether it has subject matter jurisdiction over the claims
asserted and personal jurisdiction over the parties. Mark
IV Transp. & Logistics v. Lightning Logistics, Inc.,
No. 16-3572, 2017 WL 3668946, at *4 (3d Cir. Aug. 25, 2017)
(citing Prudential Ins. Co. of Am. v. Bramlett, No.
08- 119, 2010 WL 2696459, at *1 (D.N.J. July 6, 2010)).
Further, the Court must determine "whether the moving
party's complaint establishes a legitimate cause of
action." La. Counseling and Family Servs.,
Inc., 543 F.Supp.2d at 3 65. If these initial
requirements are met, then the Court must consider three
factors to determine whether entry of a default judgment is
appropriate: "(1) prejudice to the plaintiff if default
is denied, (2) whether the defendant appears to have a
litigable defense, and (3) whether defendant's delay is
due to culpable conduct." Chamberlain v.
Giampapa, 210 F.3d 154, 164 (3d Cir. 2000) (citing
United States v. $55, 518.05 in U.S. Currency, 728
F.2d 192, 195 (3d Cir. 1984)).
bring their claims under the Carmack Amendment, 49 U.S.C.
§ 14706, for damage caused to goods during interstate
transport. The Court, therefore, exercises subject matter
jurisdiction over the federal claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§1331, In addition, the Court has personal jurisdiction
over NRT. Plaintiffs personally served NRT's registered
agent in the State of New Jersey. (ECF No. 9; Pls.' Mot.
For Default, Affidavit of John T. Lillis, Jr. ¶¶
Legitimate Cause of Action
Plaintiffs allege one-count against NRT for "Breach of
Contract of Motor Carriage." Plaintiffs assert liability
under the Carmack Amendment and the terms of the Bill of
Lading for "failing to deliver the Cargo in the same and
good order and condition as when ...