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Estate of Russick v. Koenig

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

October 10, 2019

ESTATE OF JAMES A. RUSSICK, GAIL RUSSICK, EXECUTRIX, GAIL RUSSICK, INDIVIDUALLY, Plaintiffs,
v.
TOM KOENIG and ANNA MARIE KOENIG, JOINTLY, SEVERALLY AND IN THE ALTERNATIVE, Defendants. TOM KOENIG, Cross-Claim Plaintiff,
v.
ANNA MARIE KOENIG, Cross-Claim Defendant.

          RICHARD T. FAUNTLEROY, RICHARD T. FAUNTLEROY, P.C. On behalf of Plaintiffs

          TOM KOENIG, Defendant/Cross-Claim Plaintiff appearing pro se

          MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

          NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.

         WHEREAS, this case[1] concerns $188, 000.00 obtained by Defendants Tom Koenig and Anna Marie Koenig, as husband and wife, from Anne Marie Koenig's parents in New Jersey in order to build their home in Tennessee; and

WHEREAS, after Anna Marie Koenig's father passed away, her mother, Gail Russick, as executrix of James Russick's estate, filed suit against the Koenigs to recover the balance of what she considers to be a loan, which was financed by a home equity loan on the Russick's New Jersey home; and

WHEREAS, on February 9, 2019, Plaintiffs' claims against Tom Koenig were settled, and on February 25, 2019, a judgment was entered against Tom Koenig in the amount of $188, 000; and

WHEREAS, previously, on February 19, 2016, Tom Koenig filed a cross-claim against Anna Marie Koenig for indemnification/contribution (Docket No. 29), [2] which he reasserted on December 9, 2016 in response to Plaintiffs' amended complaint (Docket No. 51); and

WHEREAS, Anna Marie Koenig never entered an appearance in the action, and on June 27, 2016, Tom Koenig filed a request that the Clerk enter default against Anna Marie Koenig, which the Clerk did that same day;[3] and

WHEREAS, before the Court is Tom Koenig's motion for default judgment in the amount of $188, 000 plus costs on his cross-claim for indemnification/contribution against Anna Marie Koenig (Docket No. 127); and

WHEREAS, under Federal Civil Procedure Rule 55, obtaining a default judgment is a two-step process: First, when a defendant has failed to plead or otherwise respond, a plaintiff must request the entry of default by the Clerk of the Court. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a). Second, after the Clerk has entered the party's default, a plaintiff may then obtain a judgment by default by either (1) asking the Clerk to enter judgment, if the judgment is a sum certain, or (2) applying to the Court, Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b); Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co. v. Starlight Ballroom Dance Club, 175 Fed.Appx. 519, 521, n.1 (3d Cir. 2006); and

WHEREAS, while Tom Koenig has satisfied the first step, he has failed to meet the requirements of the second step; and

WHEREAS, Tom Koenig's motion for default judgment asks the Clerk to enter judgment in his favor in the amount of $188, 000 plus costs because default has been entered against Anna Marie Koenig, and she is not a minor, incompetent, or in military service (Docket No. 127 at 6-7); but

WHEREAS, “[a]lthough the Court should accept as true the well-pleaded factual allegations of the Complaint, the Court need not accept the moving party's legal conclusions or allegations relating to the amount of damages. Consequently, before granting a default judgment, the Court must first ascertain whether the unchallenged facts constitute a legitimate cause of action, since a party in default does not admit mere conclusions of law, ” Chanel, Inc. v. Gordashevsky, 558 F.Supp.2d 532, 535-36 (D.N.J. 2008) (citing Comdyne I, Inc. v. Corbin, 908 F.2d 1142, 1149 (3d Cir. 1990); Directv, Inc. v. Asher, No. 03-1969, 2006 WL 680533, at *1 (D.N.J. Mar. 14, 2006) (citing Charles A. Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Mary Kay Kane, 10A Federal Practice and Procedure § 2688, at 58-59, 63 (3d ed. 1998)); and

WHEREAS, Tom Koenig seeks contribution/indemnification from Anna Marie Koenig on Plaintiffs' claims against them for breach of contract, promissory estoppel, unjust enrichment, and fraud in the entire amount of the settlement he entered into with Plaintiffs, along with the ...


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